Unlike my first Boston prep, this one felt surprisingly easy – I used the same training plan for both races. Granted I missed training sessions here and there due to laziness – if I felt a slight twinge anywhere on my body, it was reason enough to skip that day’s training.
Motivation was a 5/10. At one point I had thought about not running, granted it was a very brief moment.
I had loosely set a goal of 3:35. Last year, it was 3:30 but I missed it by 10 minutes.
In the 2 weeks leading up to the race, I was semi-obsessed with the weather prediction. It started off with low 50s and cloudy, but as we got closer to race day the temp started inching higher, and the clouds evaporated revealing brilliant sunshine. Brilliant sunshine is fine on normal days, but totally overrated when one is trying to run a marathon.
Race Day –
Mother nature decided to give all us runners a big middle finger. This is her second one in a row.
I’d resigned to the fact that 2017 was going to be a repeat of 2016 – hot and slow. It was 70 at the start and no cloud in sight. At this point, I had dialed back my expectations to 3:40 – 3:42. I still wanted to qualify.
Normally, the doubt and regret of running a marathon starts when I hit mile 20. The idea of having to run another 6 miles is exasperating. This year the doubt started earlier – on the BAA bus on the way to Hopkinton, the starting line. That’s right, I hadn’t even start the race and I was already regretting my decision to run.
It was going to be 26.2 miles of exasperation.
After learning my lesson last year, I purposely started out slower. The last thing I needed was to run the second half of the race with simultaneous quadriceps and calf cramping.
I also started earlier with the cup-of-water-overhead at every water station to keep me cool. Ran through every single sprinkler and spraying hydrant. I was surprised not more people did what I did, and I later found out that some people don’t like their socks and shoes to be soaking wet. Well, I don’t like to be hot while running.
It wasn’t hard along the way, but I was bored. I like doing different things, seeing varying sceneries. I rarely go back to the same vacation spot twice, and when I do, I don’t usually enjoy it as much as I did the first time. I like to be awed. Given that this was my 3rd Boston, it was becoming familiar. There was no element of surprise. I was totally lacking in motivation, but I had to keep going because it was the only way back to Boston.
I was struggling with motivation. At the outset, I had wanted to run a 3:40. That turned to “I’ll just try to qualify”. At one point, I made the decision that I wouldn’t care what time I ran because this was going to be the last marathon that I will ever run in my life. Oddly enough that made me pause and enjoy the moment – the runners around me and the cheering spectators. It’s akin to when you know you only have a finite time to live, you start appreciating what’s around you instead of taking everything for granted.
Interestingly, the 2 opposing motivations kept changing along with the hills. It was yeah-I’m-going-to-try-to-qualify as I was cruising downhill, to last-marathon-ever as I was going up.
One thing I was looking forward to was mile 17. That’s where the family was supposed to meet me. I say ‘supposed to’ because they never made it there in time, thanks to the wonky Boston T – something about the T going express at one point and skipping their stop.
On the flip side, having done Boston twice gave me the advantage of knowing the course and managing my race strategy. I knew if I made it to mile 21 without any major issues, I’d be golden, because 21 and on was all gradual downhill to the finish.
Mile 21 has to be my favorite along the entire Boston course. That’s where the Boston College kids are. Everyone talks about the Wellesley girls, but they just don’t do much for me. I love the BC kids – maybe because there are more boys, and I’ve always been partial to boys. But, they are a wilder bunch. Imagine Super Bowl Sunday in the sports bar with people screaming at the screen, that’s the BC kids shouting at us. They gave me such an adrenaline rush that I sped up too much, and briefly caught a cramp in my calves.
From then on it was cruise control to the finish line – a 3:41:32.
So I’ve qualified again, and am obligated to run 2018.
Everyone said I wasn’t obligated to do anything, but only runners would understand why it’s an obligation.
I’m just hoping for 45-50 degrees next year, because I really want to go for a sub 3:35, hopefully, a 3:30.
One final note, I did not end up in the medical tent like I did last year.