It’s become an unintentional tradition to race the Run By The Creek 5K & 10K every other year. Since starting a paying job at Austin Runners Club this summer, my racing has taken a backseat to supporting the running community. Today I raced what has become one of my favorite local races. Untrained.
Today’s goals were: A: Run how I felt B: Podium my age group or win Masters C: Break 37 minutes D: Win the whole thing
I felt good, excited, and nervous at the same time this morning after getting out of bed. Usually I’m not nervous on race day. I always tell my athletes, “You can only control so much. Control what you can.” So I embraced the anxiety and accepted it as simply the way that I was feeling. The anxiety was good. It meant I had expectations of myself.
There were some other “seasoned” runners in the starting corral, so I knew there might be a race for Goal B. There were a lot of high school kids, probably coming off cross country season, so Goal D stayed at the bottom of the list.
The gun went off and we piled out. After the first half mile I looked at my watch and had already settled nicely into the Goal C pace. I revisited Goal A and decided I could hang there for 5 more miles. I knew I’d pay for it at the 5k mark, but I also knew that over the course of 10 years I’ve been learning to deal with the discomfort.
I hit the 5k split at 18:29. I could do it.
And that’s when I noticed how quiet it had become. I was out front. All alone. I’d outrun the footfalls behind me.
That’s when Goal D moved up. I knew the last 3/4 of a mile were uphill. I’d still try to break 37 minutes, but I’d try harder to break the tape.
It’s odd, the sounds you think you hear when you know there’s someone behind you, but you don’t know how far. I thought I could hear footfalls. But I couldn’t tell if they were echos of my own. Or something completely different. Like hammering in a barn in a pasture near the course. Or my heartbeat in my ears.
With two miles to go I couldn’t start backing down. I didn’t want to look back. If I couldn’t see second place, that would mean I would let myself back down, and I’d pay for that in the last mile.
I asked a volunteer at the 1.5 mile aid station, “how far back is he?”
“He’s way back there.”
I could dial it back, or I could add some distance between us.
The hill added 15 seconds to my last half mile pace and it hurt.
I didn’t break 37 minutes, but I broke the tape. My first 10k to win overall.
And the best part? Being with these three friends at the end who all podiumed in their respective divisions and age groups. Look at those grins.
Today is National Letter of Intent Signing Day for NCAA Division I and II prospective college student athletes. It’s the day on which high school students sign their respective letters of intent to play NCAA sports for the university or college from which they’ve received athletic scholarship offers.
Today Maly signed her Letter of Intent to play lacrosse for the University of Charleston West Virginia.
It’s not that I’d ever doubt that a day like this would be possible. It’s a day that I’d never considered to expect.
The Zilker Relays is a tradition for the Austin running community and is always held every year on the first Friday after Labor Day. The event is a 4-person, 10 mile relay held at Zilker Park. The event was started 20 years ago by my new friend, Paul Perrone.
Last year the Circle C Run Club had four teams participate in the Zilker Relays. This year we had eight teams participate. And we showed up in style. We had fully stocked tents and the teams had a blast hanging out with and competing against each other.
I had to work all day at the Zilker Relays since the event is now owned and operated by Austin Runners Club. I was able to peel away for enough time to race with my own team (we took second in Masters). That was an 18 hour day for yours truly and, unfortunately, I didn’t get to do much hanging out with my own run club.
It wasn’t until two days later that I was finally able to sit down and look at the results from the Circle C Run Club teams.
Two of our teams had a friendly rivalry and I was really curious about one of the team’s namesake. I came to find out that team “Beat Scott” did, in fact, beat Scott’s team “Deflated Lungs.”
Two days after the Zilker Relays and with the intent to stir the pot a little, I posted the rival teams’ results in our run club’s Facebook group. I went on writing without doing much thinking and wrote, “I sense and propose a rematch. A rivalry. A new tradition that spans the contempt among just two teams. We should hold the Circle C Relays. But it’ll be bigger. And badder. And probably have a better name.”
I went on to jokingly propose that our relays be 20 miles in distance (twice the distance of the Zilker Relays) and, instead of a baton, the teams would pass a rubber rattlesnake. Our neighborhood has a lot of rattlesnakes, hence that brilliant idea.
That Facebook post garnered a lot more excitement than I’d intended. So I thought about it for a hot minute, and two days later I created the Rattlesnake Relays.
It took three weeks to create a multi-team event from absolutely nothing. We made a few adjustments from my original idea. We decided to make the relay a 12 mile course instead of 20. Our run club is very inviting and inclusive, so we didn’t want this to be a traditional race based on fastest times. We decided that the winning team would be determined by how close they came to their predicted finish time. We implemented a staggered start so all of the teams would finish at approximately the same time. And to thwart any sandbagging, cheating, and/or strategies, I reserved the right to implement an over/under. I would add or subtract somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes to each teams estimated finish time.
Captains had to register their teams. Each runner paid $10 to participate in the relays. I bought a bunch of rubber rattlesnakes and we provided coffee, donuts, muffins, sandwiches, water, Gatorade, bananas, mandarin oranges, bars, and beer for everyone. I bought $25 Fleet Feet gift cards, Balega running socks, and Goodr sunglasses for each member of the winning team. We had tents, tables, a complex scoring and timing system, a team of volunteers to help make the relays happen, and a bunch of people that came out to our neighborhood community center on a Saturday morning and had a great time with their friends.
We had 14 teams register, 50 runners, a bunch of spectators, and the local physical therapy clinic came out and had a vendor booth for our runners.
The Rattlesnake Relays started out as a joke, and turned into an awesome event that only took three weeks to throw together. A huge thanks go to Elise and our friends Frank, Jen, and Lindsey for stepping up and helping to make this thing happen.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t stressful as all get-out, and I told everyone that I wasn’t going to do this again. But I know we will. The smiles on people’s faces makes it all worth it.
Some great photos are below. All of the photos can be see here.
Maly, Elise and I maintain a group text. Maly named the group text “People I Know” many years ago. At first I thought it was cute, and maybe one day she, or one of us, would change the group text to something more appropriate, like “family.” But it hasn’t changed. And as I’ve thought about it more, and thought that I might wish the name of the group text would change, the more I think it’s right. We are the people that we know, probably taken for granted. But the three of us know.
Maly sent this poem to us on the first day of school. It was something she’d found on TikTok.
The First Day of School
I’m 5 years old I wake up early for my first day of kindergarten “I don’t want to go to school mommy, I’ll miss you” And I don’t know anyone And I don’t leave the house often And I’m scared But I go anyway And I cry walking into the classroom away from my mommy My only friend But I make friends quickly And I like learning.
I’m 12 year old I wake up early for my first day of 7th grade “I don’t want to go to school, it’s boring” And the girls are mean And I have too many classes for one day And I don’t like my teachers But I go anyway And I linger in the car next to my mom But I get out and walk away And run to my friends And they protect me.
I’m 15 years old I wake up early for my first day of sophomore year “I don’t want to go to school, I’m tired.” Everything’s heavy And I can barely stand anymore And it’s all too loud But I go anyway And I look up at my huge school And I sit with my friends And they carry me through my year.
I’m 17 years old Tomorrow I will wake up early for my first day of senior year “I don’t want to go to school, I don’t want to grow up. Time is moving too fast And I’m not ready for it to be over And I’m scared But I’ll go anyway. And I’ll linger in the passenger seat Because I don’t want it to be the last time my mommy drives me to school And I’ll cry the night before thinking about it And I’ll find my friends and they’ll comfort me But they’re all ready to grow up And I’m still getting ready for my first day of kindergarten.
Wow. I don’t know what to say. I’m honored. That’s one thing.
However, I know there are so many more runners (masters or otherwise) that are stronger, better, and faster than me. And that’s a huge reason why I’ll always consider myself a student of running. Before I became a runner, I thought running was pretty basic and, well, boring. I mean, you put one foot in front of the other in rapid succession, right? It’s often the most basic of endeavors that can provide a lifetime of learning and exploration.
For years I was a student of Tae Kwon Do. I used to love to fight and I loved to win even more. Losing wasn’t an option in my mind. I remember very vividly one day when I got my ass handed to me and I lost. I was mad and frustrated with myself. My instructor and mentor Gus Pennison looked me square in the eye and told me, “you’ll never learn by winning all the time.” That was 30 years ago and I’ve held dearly to that advice.
My friend Brom wrote this piece about me. A few hours before he’d called me, I was having one of those very introspective moments.
See, I still have big goals and dreams for myself in running. And I think I still have a lot left in me. But I’m at this point now where there’s this immeasurable amount of me that just wants to give it away. To share it as far and wide as I can. And not even running. Just getting outside and moving your body through time and space. That’s a big reason why I started a walk/run group in my neighborhood. That’s why I bought a book that I’m reading right now that teaches the walk-run-walk methodology. To learn more and to give it away.
While I was in that introspective moment I had this vision of myself. It was one of those out-of-body moments, like I was watching myself from above. I was holding the sun in my right hand. My arm was extended from the side of my body and I was looking out, far into the horizon, while casting this thought that was louder than anything that any animal could register.
“I have THIS thing. It is light and life. And you can have it for free.”
Whatever that thing is that you love and that brings you joy, nurture it and work on it and grow and learn to love it more than you’d ever imagined. And then give it away.
I took on a pretty cool new job recently. My previous three jobs in the last two and a half years ended as a result of layoffs (by no fault of yours truly). After something like 15 years in account management and sales in the tech world, and tiresomeness, constant feelings of non-fulfillment, and hinging on straight-up depression, Elise and I had many long and honest conversations. We both knew that I was burnt out and no longer capable of being miserable and faking it for the sake of a paycheck. I really wanted to do something with running. That’s where my heart is. I talked to so many people, strangers and friends and family alike who’ve been absolute blessings to me and have helped in guiding and encouraging me. And I’ve just stayed patient, confident, and hopeful. Exactly like I do in all of my pursuits in running.
As I grow older, and hopefully wiser, and as I continue to learn about myself, and trudge down this endless path as a student of running, I’m constantly reminded that life often imitates running. It can be damn hard. It’s frustrating. It requires thoughtfulness and planning and grit. And despite all of the work that you often have to put into it, you need to pause sometimes and remember to stop trying to make it happen and just let it happen.
I’ve known her for most of my life. We first met in the photo lab in college. Photography is her life’s passion. And this was the first time that I was the subject of her craft. I might or might not be wearing clothes here.
On July 8, 2013 I made a decision to change my life. I’d led a sedentary life for the previous 20 years and I’d become fat, unhealthy, and unhappy. I remember very vividly stepping out of the shower one morning and just staring at myself in the mirror. I was very unhappy with the man who was looking back at me, so I made the decision to make changes. It was at that moment that I knew I was going to have to go to work on myself.
I found healthy meal suggestions online and immediately changed what I was putting into my body. I set out the next day and set out to go on an eight mile bike ride. My hip hurt when I rode my bike, so I pedaled back home after only making it a mile from the house. The next morning I set out on the bike again and pushed through the pain so I could make it the eight miles that I’d set out to cover. The pain in my hip was still there and I knew that I couldn’t keep forcing the bike riding lest I injure myself. But I was committed to the work that I’d signed on to do. I decided that if I couldn’t ride my bike, I would go out the next day and see if I could run a mile.
On July 11, 2013, I walked to the middle school track up the hill from our house and I ran one mile. I pushed myself hard in that mile. I remember getting starry tunnel vision in the last 300 meters and damn near collapsed after I hit one mile.
I walked after I hit one mile so I could catch my breath and let my heart rate settle down. What I’d done had hurt, but I knew that’s what I’d signed up for. I knew the process wasn’t going to be easy. And that’s when that “runner’s high” set in. That one mile didn’t kill me and my hip didn’t hurt.
I decided that I’d go out again the next day and run one mile again, but I’d run it slower. I decided that I would teach myself how to run. I would take my time and I would train so I could learn to run longer distances and gradually increase my speed.
Ten years ago today I became a student and I still learn something about running and myself every time I set foot out the door.
There’s just something about road-tripping. A lot of it can get boring and repetitive, but then the scenery and landscape sneaks up and changes on you. My favorite scenery parts were on the drive back south through the Boston Mountains in northwest Arkansas and the Ouachita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma.
My other favorite parts were when I realized I’d forgotten my wallet when we were right at 100 miles into our trip last Thursday. I just shrugged my shoulders and figured I’d wing it. These last 10 days have been pretty liberating without an ID or money. And then last night, a kind soul followed us into our hotel parking lot in Fayetteville to let us know our tail lights were out. That’s when Elise and I realized we’d driven roughly 2,000 miles without ever turning on our rental’s lights. The running lights served us well, and how the hell do you know if you don’t have tail lights unless a Razorback lets you know? I love Arkansas.
But the best part has been spending all this time with my girls. I get a little lip quiverry when I think about these college visits and the oldest going to college next year. But when I think more on it, that means one less person farting on these multi state road trips.
I’ll always cherish these road trips, but I’ll forever cherish these girls even more.
Elise and I were sharing a pizza at the Trophy Room downstairs from our hotel on Tuesday night and she said something to me that stung a little bit, but it’s very true.
“There are people that would kill to get to run the Boston Marathon, and when you crossed the finish line you were disappointed.”
As I type this, I’ve moved on from the disappointed phase and I’m now treading in the ambivalent phase. I’m working on getting to the happy phase. I’m close. I think I just need time to reflect a bit more.
Here were my goals for this year’s Boston Marathon:
I’ve made it a habit to share my goals with people, either in person, phone, text, and/or social media. I usually share my goal(s) the day before a race. It gives me a sense of accountability. And I think it gives people something to measure against if they’re inclined to track me while I’m out there. I’m realizing that’s probably part of the error right there. I should consider keeping any goals to myself.
When I share my goals, I never mention the goal that comes before “Goal A.” When I set out in Hopkinton on Monday morning, I thought I might have a 2:52, or maybe even a 2:50 in me.
The first mile is tough because you’re leaving a corral with thousands of other fast runners and you’re all barreling down a hill on a narrow New England road. You can keep things reigned in, you can go out a little fast and find some room to run, or you can immediately settle into your pace and just watch your footing and elbows to avoid getting tripped up. I opted for a combination of the latter two.
My 1-mile split was good. It was reassuring. It was 5 seconds fast, but completely within reason. And then I settled in faster. My splits through mile 10 were 15 seconds faster than they should’ve been if I wanted to hit my Goal A and, in hindsight, I should’ve stayed focused on Goal A, or even Goal C.
My faster pacing felt fine. It felt natural. I’d struggled with my Goal A pace throughout training because I could never get used to the cadence to maintain that pace over longer distances. So I made the decision to stay with the faster pace that felt more fluid. I figured if I could maintain comfort in stride, albeit at a faster pace, the tradeoff would be sustainability, but I’d figure that out whenever I needed to figure that out later in the race. And I knew that would mean a grind.
And it didn’t take long to start feeling fatigued. I could tell I was getting tired already at mile 8. But I knew I was running a marathon, and I was already almost a third into a race, so I told myself I’d gut it out. And if I had to back down later in the race then I could do that.
And that’s pretty much the worst decision I could’ve made. At that point, my strategy was banking time, and while I’m far from a Boston Marathon expert, I can comfortably say that trying to bank time at Boston (or any marathon) is going to make for a long day.
Usually we’d fly into Boston on Friday before the race. This year we didn’t get in until late Saturday night. On Sunday morning I went on a shakeout run with Jess. Since this was her first Boston Marathon, I wanted to take her around the requisite loop around the Charles River. I had to run to our meeting spot at the Harvard Bridge, so that made for a 6-mile shakeout run. Usually, my prescribed shakeout is 2-3 miles the day before the race.
After my run with Jess, I ran back to the hotel, showered, and walked back to Boylston for Fan Fest where I watched a panel interview with Bobbi Gibbs, Amby Burfoot, and Bill Rogers. Then Elise and I met up, went to the expo to get my bib, and try to hunt down some Maurten hydrogels. The Maurten booth was sold out. So we left the expo and walked to Start Market to get lunch. After lunch, we walked to Fenway to watch the 1:30 Red Sox game against the Angels.
After the game, we walked to REI so I could get my gels. I’d only brought one Maurten hydrogel with me, and I needed one more to get me through to mile 12 on the course where I could thereafter take gels from the course. After we’d finally found my single gel, we walked all the way back to our hotel where I was finally able to get off my feet, and then Elise went out again to get us pizza for dinner and breakfast and post-race food for the next day.
According to Garmin Connect, I’d walked 19,974 steps on Sunday. That’s around 15,000 steps more than I like to take the day before a race. But, we were in Boston, and I know when I have family with me for a big race, I have to indulge in site-seeing, touring, and a bunch of walking. I was admittedly tired from all of the walking on Sunday. Walking is more foot-to-ground contact than running and I could really feel it. My feet and legs were tired, but figured with a good night of sleep, I’d be perfectly okay the next morning.
As I was on the bus to Hopkinton for the 2022 Boston Marathon I realized that I’d forgotten to eat breakfast. I made sure I didn’t make that same mistake this year. Elise had gone to Whole Foods after we got back from the Red Sox game and got us pizza for dinner. She got me a slice of cheese pizza and a slice of pepperoni pizza. I ate the pepperoni first and I was satiated. I should’ve left it at that, but I figured I might as well top off as much as possible, so I ate the other slice of pizza. And the tank was very full.
I went to bed around 10 p.m. Sunday night and slept like a rock. I woke at up 5 a.m. on Marathon Monday and ate a small bowl of oatmeal and half of a bagel. I had my coffee and took care of bathroom business. I was feeling pretty good about the pre-race checklist. I took a banana and a couple of granola bars with me for the bus ride out to Hopkinton.
I ate the smaller of the granola bars while on the bus at around 8:30 a.m. I knew I was fueled up and was excited to employ my new topping-off strategy of one gel at every 4 miles during the race. My previous marathon fueling strategy had me eating every 5 miles. My recent research indicated that I should be topping of my glycogen every 25 minutes. Four mile increments would put me right at that 25-minute mark, and multiples of 4 makes for easy on-course math. Plus my watch beeps at the 1-mile split, so I knew I’d have an audible reminder to eat.
At mile 10 I experienced a tinge of GI distress. And the first thing that popped into my head was that I shouldn’t have had that second slice of pizza the night before. And I probably should’ve picked either the oatmeal or the bagel for breakfast. Not both. While I was sufficiently carb loaded, the tank was just a bit too full.
At mile 12 I heard the scream tunnel at Wellesley. That’s still my absolute favorite part of the Boston Marathon. And I took it all in as I usually do. I didn’t stop for a kiss, but I hung to the right so I could see the girls’ faces and hear the cheers and excitement, and so I could absorb the energy.
My fourth Boston Marathon and I’m still baffled and amazed at how loud, excited, and supportive all of those girls are for the entire duration of the race. Words just can’t do the scream tunnel justice.
After Wellesley, I knew I had a few quieter miles to try to settle and relax before getting into Newton and taking the first of the hills at the I-95 overpass. And I wasn’t too far past Wellesley, right at mile 13, when my stomach said, “Hey! Remember me?!” And that’s when I knew I was going to have to do something. There was a fleeting moment where I thought I’d keep pressing on and see if I could make it to the finish line, but that thought was squashed. I knew it would be better to take care of business now versus wait until I hit some point of no return and risk finding myself in an embarrassing situation where the line of spectators gets deeper as we get into Newton and Boston College.
I started looking for porta-potties right at mile 13 and I kept my eyes peeled. It wasn’t until we took the descent at mile 16 that I finally found a row of three stalls to the left. I ran over, hopped into the far right stall and, well, took care of business. I didn’t look at my watch because I think the pressure of seeing the seconds tick by would induce some anxiety. Thankfully it was quick and I was able to hop back out without any thoughts of, “I hope I got it all.”
I have to admit that I’m a little impressed that with a pit stop to take a crap in the middle of the Boston Marathon, my mile split was 8:14. Given my bookended mile splits, and if my math is right, I think I “took care of business” in about a minute and 45 seconds.
And I was able to hop back into the race and get back on pace with a bit of renewed vigor. Maybe a little bit too much vigor as I went over I-95 a little faster than I probably should have.
I did what I wanted to do from that point forward. I didn’t let the Newton Hills stop me. I let them slow me down, but I didn’t stop. In 2021 and 2022, the hills got to me. I had to stop and walk in both previous years. I’ll admit, Heartbreak Hill was tough. I think most will tell you that three good hills in the late stages of a marathon are tough, and then after you have to climb Heartbreak right at mile 20, you’re zapped. Especially if you haven’t left plenty in the tank. Heartbreak emptied my tank.
I knew the last 5 miles were downhill, and those were when the race really started. And I tried to settle back into some kind of cadence, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to sustain my previous, and pretty consistent, pace. I was actually on a good little downhill section just past the cemetery when I just got completely zapped. I couldn’t go anymore. Despite fighting it, my body just stopped. I wouldn’t really call it walking. I was moving forward, but both of my legs were wobbly and my upper body was involuntarily leaning to the right. I was nervous that I might collapse, or even pass out. I felt like my legs weren’t going to support me for much longer. I kept moving forward while a barrage of thoughts went through my head.
“Well, that was it. You walked.”
“It’s going to be a long rest of the day.”
“I’ve never had to be pulled off a course and tended to by medical staff.”
“What happened? What’s wrong with me? Am I going to be okay? Did I do some kind of damage?”
“You went out too fast.”
“You should’ve figured out how to run your splits 15 seconds slower and settled in.”
“You’re walking right now. That means you’ve given yourself permission to walk again.”
“Elise is going to be expecting to see you on Boylston soon.”
“Did I bank enough time to account for this walk?”
“Can I still get Goal A or Goal B?”
“Look at all of these people passing me. How do they have so much energy?”
“Start running again!”
So I started running again. It was slower, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I rode the wave of the others on the course. It hurt, but I told myself to just keep going. I had three miles left. I told myself to just jog it in. I’d banked time in the first 20 miles and even if I just jogged it in, I’d still come in with a respectable time. I might even get my sub-3.
And then the sky opened up and it finally rained. It’d been foggy and cloudy all morning, and we’d all gone through a few patches where it sprinkled. But now it rained and it was cold. My body was spent. Every bit of energy I had left was being used to move forward. The air temperature and rain zapped me. There was a split second when the cold rain shocked my system and I thought that it might revitalize me, but it did the opposite. It made me cold, uncomfortable, and upset. It rained on my pity parade.
I saw the Citgo sign and it looked like it was 800 meters away. It was 800 meters away for 10 minutes. It was hell trying to get to that damn sign. I knew that once I got there I only had a mile to go. But God it was hard getting to that sign. And when I did, I had to stop and regroup again. I think I walked for less than a minute, and I regret having to do it, but it was an exercise in listening to my body versus fighting my body. Everything hurt and I had that wobbly, passing-out feeling again. I was beaten down and chewed up. But I only had a mile to go. I could keep jogging it in.
I was happy that I was able to start moving again and that’s all that I could do at that point. I could run, but I couldn’t push. I had zero kick left in me, but I rallied and just kept jogging it in.
I didn’t remember that Hereford St. was so close after passing under the Charlesgate Bridge. Once I saw the right turn at Hereford I finally felt a sense of relief. And the crowd was absolutely nuts. If you’re into crowd support, Boston brings it.
I crossed Newbury while making that slight climb up to Boylston. I hugged the tangent and made the left onto Boylston, and then immediately started veering to the right side of the street. I know Elise is always at the Prudential, right across from Gloucester.
Almost immediately I saw her. We made eye contact. She was screaming and cheering for me. I could feel my chest get full, my eyes welled up, and my nose stung, like I was about to cry. I put my arms out to my side with my palms up to indicate, “I don’t really know what happened.” She knew I was behind on my goal schedule.
I pointed to her and blew her a kiss. Then I turned forward and just kept my eyes on the finish line.
I can’t remember the last time I’d looked down at my watch. After the course punched me in the face at mile 23, I knew most, if not all, goals were gone. There’s always the unwritten goal of “just finish.” And that’s what I was going for at that point.
While there are still some lingering feelings of disappointment, I’m happy. I came in right at 3:03:00. I PR’d the Boston course by a minute and 10 seconds, and it’s my second-fastest marathon. I beat my Goal D.
I told Elise last year that this year would be my last Boston.
This wasn’t my last Boston. I still have some unfinished business on this course.
This is a wonderful short video on Eliud Kipchoge’s preparation for his first Boston Marathon. There’s a ton more in preparation beyond this two-and-a-half-minute video clip. The preparation for a race, if one is indeed preparing for a specific race, can be boiled down to a word: specificity.
Simply put, you train for what you want to do. If you want to run fast, you practice running fast. If you want to run far, you practice running far. If you want to power through hills, you practice on hills. And that list can go on and on. And if you need to accomplish a multitude of things, you practice all of them, and you have to give yourself the time to incorporate all of that practice in a dedicated training block.
I’ve been on a perpetual training plan since September of last year, leading up to six races in this past year’s Austin Distance Challenge. I built that plan specifically leading up to this year’s Boston Marathon. Boston is my “A Race,” and everything leading up to Boston needed to line up and work out just right. In January my Boston training began in earnest, especially the beginning of introducing more volume and long runs on weekends. And things lined up, by design, as the 3M Half Marathon (January) and Austin Half Marathon (February) incorporated a lot of hills.
The week after the Distance Challenge ended with the Austin Half Marathon, I went straight into a peak week for Boston Training. That meant my first 20-miler, one week after having run a 1:20:20 at the Austin Half. I specifically planned my three 20-milers to mimic the Boston course — downhill for the first half, and uphill for the second half. And since the start of my training in September, I specifically worked on training for distance and, more importantly, speed. I pushed hard on the tempos and intervals and really worked on turning my legs over and getting faster and stronger.
This will be my fourth Boston Marathon. My first was in 2018, arguably the worst Boston Marathon in terms of weather. The temperatures were barely above freezing, it was pouring rain the whole day, and we all had to push against 20 and 30-mile per headwinds the whole way from Hopkinton to Boston. I ran a negative split that year and I couldn’t be stopped. I ran Boston again in 2021 and 2022. Both years presented perfect running weather — clear skies and mid-50s temperatures. However, the Newton Hills brought me to a walk both years. And hills don’t usually bother me. But they’re the Newton Hills. They start at mile 16. Heartbreak Hill is at mile 20.
I specifically designed my three 20-milers so that the first halves were downhill, and the second halves were uphill. I have trained so that I can control what I can control. No one can predict the weather or other conditions in Boston. It could be raining, windy, cold, or hot. Those are all things that I can’t control. You just have to be ready and accepting, and confident in controlling only what you can. I’ve worked on being ready for the hills. They are my #1 adversary. I feel confident that my body is ready. A huge part of training is preparing the mind. I will use these final three weeks while tapering to continue to train my mind and mentally prepare for my adversary.