"That's a character building run." Those are the words my Boston marathon training partner Michael used to sum up today's 76 degree, full-sun, 13-mile run. They're much more positive and uplifting than my summary statement upon finishing which was, roughly, "F*@%."
Two weeks to Boston. Am I ready? I approach any race with three goals - baby goal, do-able goal, and "the stars and planets must align but there's still a shot" goal. My goals for Boston are thus:
- PLANETS ALIGNED: Beat my time in Chicago, so anything under a 3:44:02
- DO-ABLE GOAL: Come in under 4 hours
- BABY GOAL: Just finish
I'm not really sure what to expect from the hills of Boston. Are they comparable to what I've been running around here? Hills on the Greenway are easy because I know where they are and how long they last. Will I mentally flake out when I approach hills where I have no idea when they might end?
I'm also unsure what the first six downhill miles of Boston will do to me. Six miles of downhill sounds lovely, but the quads can take a beating over that period of time. Will I be able to control pace and not race ahead, just because it "feels" easy in the beginning?
My mind is all over the place. "Go for a new PR." "No, just relax and enjoy the experience. You don't have anything to prove." "Who are you kidding? There's no way you'll let yourself relax. Go for it!" "Run right at pace." "Run 5 seconds faster than pace so you have time for the water stops." "No, even running right on pace will let you beat Chicago's PR. Don't force the run. Stay consistent!"
In the end, what it all comes back to, and what got me through Chicago, is this: TRUST THE TRAINING.
I've put in the work. Now it's time to relax and assume the body knows what to do. Assuming no horrible weather, I'm fairly confident I can maintain race pace for at least 15-16 miles. If I need to slow up after that, I should have plenty of time banked to still meet my middle goal of under 4 hours. A 3:40 would be nice, yes. And I'll try. But I already feel like a feather on the edge of a cliff and one strong gust or "I must PR!" mandate will be enough to push me over the edge.
On a side note, let us pray for cold weather. I can hear my Greensboro friends laughing, as I believe my voice was the loudest this winter, complaining of being sick of running with frozen feet and hands and that I couldn't wait to do a run where my face didn't feel like an ice carving. I've now had two days of high 70's/low 80's running and I take it all back! That hot sun beating down just drains the life force from a runner. So please, Boston weather gods, some 40 degree temps would be just fine and dandy. I will drink a beer in your honor upon completing the race if you comply. Thank you.