I just wrapped up my last run for this Boston Marathon training block. 22 weeks and 871.4 miles in preparation to run 26.2. I’ll take it easy the next two days and then go on a shakeout run around the Charles River in Boston on Sunday. Until then, it’s rest, relax, stay hydrated, fed, and, God willing, toe the line healthy in Hopkinton on Monday morning.
This training cycle has been, in a word, interesting. I’d qualified for Boston in Houston back in January of 2020. And then the pandemic happened so any potential races or running goals that I might’ve had never materialized. The “normal” Boston Marathon in April of last year was canceled in lieu of a virtual event. The B.A.A. announced they were going to do the 125th running of the marathon in October of this year, so I decided to submit my qualifying time from Houston. A week or so later, I received the email that I was in. So then I had to start thinking about how I was going to get back into shape and train for a marathon.
Getting into Boston is an achievement in and of itself. I’ll go out on a limb and say for most first-timers, and even veterans of the race, you run the Boston Marathon to experience the Boston Marathon. It’s the oldest marathon run on U.S. soil, it’s rich with tradition, stories, amazing victories, heartbreaks, and, unfortunately, horror.
There’s been a part of me that just wanted to go back to Boston and run the race to experience and enjoy it. I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2018 when it was cold, pouring rain, and we all fought headwinds reaching 30 mph the entire 26 miles. I “experienced” the race, but not the way I’d hoped. I think this training block has got me into shape to where I can cover the distance, but I haven’t really settled on any kind of time that I want to hit. It wasn’t until today, on my final run, that I decided that I should put a goal out there. I learned the hard way that it’s not wise to train for a big race without a plan. And I reckon that it’s probably equally unwise to go into a big race without some kind of goal. You’re setting yourself up for uncertainty which, I’d also venture to guess could lead to poor performance. I could be totally wrong. But for me, I think if I don’t have a goal, then I’ll flounder. If I do have a goal, I can be present, mindful, and conscious of my splits and check-ins at certain course mile markers.
Today I decided that my goals would be the following:
Goal A: 3:10 (Boston Qualifier that will more than likely get me into Boston 2022 (or 2023?)
Goal B: 3:19 (BQ)
Goal C: 3:30 (PR the Boston Course by 7 minutes)
Up until today, I’d settled on the notion of “I’m just going to see how I feel Sunday evening and Monday morning.” I think that’s always the case for any race. It’s not a goal. It’s not a strategy. It reminds me of what a sales manager of mine used to always say: “Hope is not a strategy.” I obviously hope I’m healthy and feeling spry on Monday morning. My goals are to run hard, feel good for the 3+ hours, and have fun. And now I have quantifiable numbers behind those goals. The psychology, feelings, and emotions are implied. They’re going to happen regardless of anything that I can do. I have to work for the splits. I’ve been working for the past 22 weeks in my training.
Monday is when the real work happens.