Another Boston Marathon has come and gone. That year went very fast. Pun intended. Let me catch everyone up if you have not been following me.
Last year, 2015, went as good as I could hope for, almost too good. I remember saying a few weeks before Boston 2015. My training was going great, I felt faster, stronger and more ready then ever. I had PR’d in the 5k and half, and everything was working right. Then one week before Boston 2015, I went on a 5 mile run and got a cramp or what I thought was a cramp in my left foot. I ran through it thinking it would go away. It didn’t. After the race it hurt, and the next day it hurt. Anyway, I still ran Boston, but it was a just finish and qualify for 2016. I did that, and it was a hard lesson to learn.
Fast forward to 2016. Training was going OK, my half marathon 8 weeks out from Boston went like crap. I ignored the weather and went out too fast, crashed and burned at the finish. I was road kill. Mentally, I had just quit in the race. I kept telling myself how bad it was going to be (knowing the weather was not good). And sure enough it was bad. The hardest half I had ever ran. I finished 1:35, 7 minutes slower than just one year before at the same race.
Well I made somewhat of a revelation from that half. Training is important, but your attitude is very important. If you say it will suck, it will. If you say you are doing fine, even though it sucks, somehow you will work it out and make it a great race. It is the mental part of a race. I though I understood that, but clearly I didn’t until my half.
So I focused on a positive attitude for Boston. Even though the weather was not ideal. High of 70°F. But instead of saying how bad it was going to be (what I did in the half) I said, be smart, run a conservative first half and then if you feel good go for it. So instead of a 3:00:00 goal, I set a 3:10:00 goal and planned a 1:35:00 first half split. I also refused to be upset at the weather. It was what it was. Deal with it and run a good, smart race. I started off the first 5k (all downhill) at an average pace of 7:22 per/mile. Just a little slower then my plan of 1:35 half (7:15 per/mile). But that was ok, start easy, pick it up a bit and settle in. So I increased my pace for the next few miles and settled in at a 7:15 per/mile overall average pace by mile 8-9. I hit the half way point right at 1:35:12. OK, now get to heartbreak hill and maintain, then finish the last 5 miles strong and get under 3:10.
The weather was starting to heat up right at the worst place, the Newton Hills. I stayed positive and refused to let myself say how awful it was. I slowed a bit going through Newton, but not much. My 5k splits were as follows.
As I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill I was hurting. But I had not slowed. Keep going, I said, finish strong. You got this! I started to pass a lot of people who were giving up and walking. The heat and hills got them. I gave a few thoughts to walking, but I have been there before and walked at mile 25 and I knew that was not going to make me feel better. It feels worse. So I said to myself, pick it up, you are going to do this. You can walk at mile 26.2. So I did, I pushed it, and maintained my pace. I didn’t notice, but my HR was going max and then some. The heat put me in a higher HR zone for the first 21 miles, it was higher then I would have liked. But this is a race, it is not supposed to feel easy. FINISH I told myself.
I crossed the finish line at 3:13:35. My last PR was 3:16:44—a PR of 3+ minutes. With the weather being what it was, I was very happy with the time. It was not my adjusted goal of 3:10, but it was my best. As Meb would say, Run to win. Give it your all, run a smart race. Today the best I was going to run was 3:13:35. Nothing I could have done would have changed that other than going out faster finishing with a time much slower. Or to say how awful the weather was and hit the wall, mentally give up. The results as measured in time does not reflect the effort given. I had learned from the half I ran in February to, run happy, do not force a race to be what you want, but run the race that is presented to you. Mentally I learned that not only is it key to be relentless but, to be positive, keep telling yourself you are doing great, you got this. Do not allow yourself to say how hard it is, and that you should just stop and walk like everyone else.
I can’t wait for 2017. It will be my 5th Boston in a row. I’m sure no matter what the weather, it will be the best one ever!
I will Never forget 2013 and those who lost their life. Martin Richard, Keystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Sean Collier.