Why I Want Boston (Again)
A week ago today, I qualified for Boston Marathon. Seven months ago, almost to the day, I lost my friend Rudy. I wanted to do something special to honor his memory and running the marathon again would be it. I know it isn’t true, but it feels as more and more time passes, our dear friend Rudy is mentioned less and less. Like I said, I know it’s not true, but it bothers me. Life goes on. Things get easier with time. Blah, blah, blah.
I remember how excited he was for his friends that were qualifying or running Boston Marathon. So much so, that I left my only Boston Marathon medal with him at his service. To me it wasn’t a big deal to let it go, and to be quite honest, I’ve never had an interest in running it again — until two months ago when I made this decision.
I was a little dramatic when coming to that decision because there was only one Boston qualifying race left in Oregon which was 9 days before I could register: What if I cannot qualify? It had been three years since I ran my last marathon. What if I can no longer run fast? What if my hip starts hurting again? My coach, Andy Noise helped me realize that I only needed to qualify and that I didn’t have to commit to a sub-3 or anything near it. Just qualify and worry about running fast in Boston next year.
With eight weeks to prep, I started to train privately – I didn’t want the pressure on me for a race that was my qualifier. I was struggling to run on the road as it was because of my hip (weak glute med) that would leave me sore after any speed workouts. Andy and I discussed that I would not push it and that I would instead focus getting lots of time on my feet hiking since my hip did not bother me at all out there. My last SOS (something of substance) was only three weeks into the program – a measly 45-minutes at MP. I only accrued 88.6 miles in the last six weeks of my eight week training program, of which 49 where in the last four weeks and 27 in the last two. Taking it really easy and light kept my hip feeling ‘normal.’
I tried not to focus on my race day strategy until the night before. It was too stressful thinking about it beforehand considering my circumstances. All I knew was that the race was flat – only 50’ of gain, at 4,000’ elevation (Sunriver/Bend). My qualifying time for my age was 3:40 – that would allow me to register on 9/17 a whole week after registration opens (for the fast ones!), and I’d have to hope there’d still be spots available. So instead of taking that chance, I’d plan to run 3:30 (8:00 pace) and try to get the earlier registration date.
Race morning, I felt that 8:00 was too slow and I was sure I could run a little faster than that so I changed it to not running faster than 7:30 and not slower than 7:45. There’s really nothing exciting about what went on during the race – I felt great (yes!). Nothing hurt and I stayed relaxed. I got a little anxiety for a few minutes at mile 21 (or as I look at it in a race: 5 miles to go!) because I was getting bored, and for that moment I started to think back to when was the last time I ran 20 miles on the road and I couldn’t. I quickly got that out of my mind and pretended I was on a short loop near my house. I did the math and at that point I could lose two minutes per mile for the remaining miles and still meet my goal. I stopped looking at my watch and just ran it in. 3:18 and very happy. Happy that I can register a week earlier (first-tiered registration) and that I don’t have to worry about training for Boston until late in the year, and until then, I can run, hike and backpack, knowing that alone will keep me in moderate shape. But most importantly, that I can do this for my friend, Rudy.