did i run boston? people have asked.
as of last friday morning, i hadn’t decided whether i would run or simply spectate. i registered for the 2012 boston marathon in september of 2011. unfortunately, in the current day of sold out marathons, a runner must sign up months before the race and before we know our the condition of our bodies and life circumstances on race day. six months before the gun goes off in hopkinton, we commit $185 to race and hope that our training will progress smoothly and our bodies will be free of injury on patriot’s day.
not wanting to miss out on my 3rd consecutive boston marathon, i signed up. however, in january, i determined that it wasn’t in my best interest to continue training and race boston 2012. therefore, i backed off my training regimen and decreased my mileage. since the end of january, i have only been running about 30 – 35 miles per week over 3 days a week. (in comparison, last february i ran up to 80 miles per week over 6 – 7 days a week).
i wasn’t going to run boston. i was not in shape to run boston.
but marathon weekend showed up and i couldn’t help myself. i love this race.
my family drove out from missouri to watch my brother run his first boston marathon. i wanted to take part in the fun as well, but not race it. i resolved to start the race with wave 1, sans a timing chip, run my race until mile 21 where i would meet my brother, whom started 20 minutes later in wave 2, and finish the race together. this marathon was going to be about the fun and experience, not a personal record.
which is good, because it was hot. really hot. 80 degrees at the 10am start kind of hot. 86 degrees on the bank sign in framingham kind of hot. grab ice cubes from little kids along the route and shove them in your sports bra kind of hot.
i started the first 6 miles with a sub 8:00 mile pace. that was dumb. my next 9 miles were 8:00 to 8:30 before i slid to 10:00 miles around mile 17. i slowly made it to heartbreak hill at mile 21 and waited for my brother, as was our pre-race plan. i waited for awhile, but didn’t find him. since i had slowed so much in the last few miles, i figured that i must have missed him running by and he was already near the finish. i decided to move along. after stopping at mile 21, it was all but impossible to start running again. i finished the final 5 miles in a jog/walk/slog manner, stopping to talk with friends i spotted along the route and eat a grape popsicle from a guardian angel at mile 22 (it was the most amazing part of the entire race).
and for the record, i wasn’t the only one hitting the wall. i may have seen 2 people actually running up heartbreak hill. we were all walking dead at this point of the race.
the race was absolutely miserable. the backs of my knees were sunburned. i puked in newton. the bottom front pad on my right foot was a solid blister. i drank approximately 20 cups of water during the race, 1 liter of water after the race, followed by 1 liter of diet coke, 0.5 liter of sprite, 12 oz of cranberry juice, and a large iced coffee from dunkin donuts before i finally peed approximately 8 hrs after the race.
but, i finished, as ugly as my performance might have been.
what did i learn from boston?
expectations are everything.
all week we heard the weatherman warn us and the BAA warn us. we had an excuse not to do well, therefore, i think many of us let that excuse slow us down even more. we had no expectations of running well, therefore it was easy to accept our below average performance. i have never walked in a marathon before monday. however, i knew that monday brought forth a new set of circumstances and walking was a very acceptable, and common, behavior in the 2012 boston marathon. in another marathon, i might have pushed my body harder but on monday i accepted a lower standard of effort and just ‘stuck it out’ rather than ‘fight it out.’
that is not to say that i didn’t try. i absolutely tried. however, i just didn’t push myself as hard as i have in previous marathons. i knew the results of a harder effort would not be as rewarding as the damage i could have done to my body.
experience is golden. we can gain valuable lessons from both good and bad situations.
i earned my 3rd unicorn medal on monday. when i look at those pieces of blue and yellow metal, i will recall what each of them meant. during each marathon training cycle, i have a theme which can usually be summarized by one word. on race day, i write that word on my hand to serve as inspiration during the race. the first of my boston finisher’s medal will remind me of ‘purpose’ — about how we don’t run a race like a man running aimlessly, how we don’t fight like a man beating the air. the theme of my second boston was ‘movement.’ after learning about a friend’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, i wrote the word movement on my hand to serve as i reminder that i should never take running, or movement in general, for granted. i am lucky to have a healthy, able body.
monday’s race taught me about ‘choices.’ for the last two years, i have made the choice to train hard for marathons. i have changed my eating habits, my social habits, my sleeping habits, in order to boost my fitness level. i have changed my focus from my family, my husband, and my friends to myself and my goals. which brings me to my next lesson.
marathoning is a selfish sport.
i knew this before, which is why i decided back off my training in january. training for a marathon takes hundreds of hours away from our loved ones and causes them to adjust their lives for our hobby. this was reinforced over marathon weekend as my family followed my brother and i around boston. they stayed in the hotel that we wanted in order to be near the starting line. they walked around the expo and took pictures of us as we picked up our bibs. they ate where we wanted to eat so that we had the right amount of carbs in our bodies. they waited for hours at the finish line as we battled our way through the course. at one point, i stopped and borrowed a cell phone from a spectator to call my husband and warn him that i would be longer than i originally expected. he waited an extra hour for me to come into boston. they waited at the hotel as we went to the hospital to seek post-race treatment. they gave up their day of sightseeing on tuesday because we were too sore and tired to tour the city. it was all about us.
sometimes we have to take a break from running, not just because our bodies need the rest from the physical stress, but also because our loved ones need the rest from our selfishness.
no regrets. everything i have done has brought me to where i am.
regardless of the difficult conditions on monday and the ups and downs of this training season, i am very happy that i ran the 2012 boston marathon. this year’s race wasn’t about setting a personal record, but about proving to myself that i can relax my running goals in order to focus on bigger life goals. i proved to myself that i can be happy running slower or less often in order to find balance in other areas of life.
the 2012 boston marathon taught me that …… life has its seasons.