I’ve put off writing this post for weeks. But with the race just four days away I think it’s about time.
Since I hit that coveted 3:40:59 mark last spring, I haven’t thought too much about where I go next in the marathon. I started doing tris soon after Shamrock and then started to focus heavily on multisport training and the eventual Ironman. I haven’t done 26.2 since I qualified in March 2010.
All along, I fully planned on doing Boston just for fun. No time goal, no pressure, just enjoying the ride and the accomplisment of getting to the start line. And I never made plans to run another marathon this year because of the demands of IM training.
16 weeks ago, I had a schedule. I was going to train smart, do all my long runs as planned and be in shape to at least complete the race feeling strong. I’ve never actually completed a full marathon training cycle — my BQ efforts last year were almost foiled by Snowmageddon — and I wanted to do it for the big one. Then I got injured. I managed to get in a 16-miler and an 18-miler before that happened, but the last eight weeks have been a mix of shorter “long” runs, pool workouts and cross training. The “no goal” plan seemed like even more of a reality.
But as I’ve spent the last week reading and rereading race reports, course analyses, friends’ blog posts and my BAA packet, along with watching reruns of previous Bostons, I can’t help but feel like I’ve gotta go with a goal. I was so chill about the whole thing, but now I’m just as excited and nervous and anxious as everyone else. Maybe the reality is finally hitting. Maybe I’m letting other people get in my head. In any case, there’s something about running world’s most famous marathon that gets you amped to put it all out there. And if you know me, you know it’s [nearly] impossible for me to go to a race and not actually give it every last thing I’ve got. When I get to that start line, I’m going to want and need to shoot for something bigger than just finishing.
The challenge is the unknown injury factor. Is it reasonable to expect a good performance? Can I do it? Can I do it without injuring myself? I PR’d the shit out of my half at National a few weeks back and felt awesome the whole way, but the marathon is an entirely different beast. Those weekly long runs I missed are critical to surviving the distance. On the other hand, my base fitness level is really high thanks to all the cross-training I’ve done, so in the end my current ability is wildly unpredictable.
I started this blog in part to hold myself accountable through my training and racing adventures. So I’m going to put it out there:
I want to PR.
I’m competitive with myself and others, and it only seems fair to use that as my marker. So if it happens, great. But if it doesn’t, that’s ok too. I made it to Boston. I’m going to be at that start line, I’m going to cross the finish line, and I’ve got nothing to prove.
Before you call me soft or whatever, just remember that I also have to be reasonable because I’ve got a long race season ahead of me. I didn’t train to PR this race. While I’ve been fairly successful with that strategy and my body has yet to set real limits and truly rebel against all the terrible pain I put it through, my recent injury shows that might not work forever. Sure, I even have a secret time goal I’d love to hit beyond just a PR. But Boston may not be that race.
Someday I will return to intensely focused marathon training and, who knows, maybe post times in the 3:20 range. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of my first Boston. I hope you’ll be cheering for me to do just that on Monday.