Today is Boston Day. It has been five years since the marathon bombing. Lives lost. Many injured. Yet, somehow, in the aftermath of such a tragedy, perseverance. The city came together. Boston Strong. The running community came together. We will not let them take away our passion. This incredible unity that rose out of the tragedy is why I’m running marathons today. I met a guy this weekend who said he thought he’d run his last Boston Marathon well before the bombing. But, after, he wanted to come back. Terrorists can’t take the joy, the beauty, the spirit of this event. The marathon has always showcased the drive and dedication of the athletes. The Boston Marathon has a storied history not only of athletes, but of spectators. All the towns along the course take pride in the race. This is their marathon. The energy and essence of the Marathon are evident everywhere you go on Marathon Weekend. I did not run a marathon before the bombing, so can’t compare. But, I get the sense that all the spirit, pride, and energy surrounding the marathon has only grown. Strengthened. Never forget.
For those who haven’t experienced it, where to even start? This week leads up to the most prestigious marathon in the country. In the world. And the city of Boston owns it. Big time. Everywhere you walk, there are marathon daffodils in the windows. Blue (purple) and yellow assorted flowers. The Boston Marathon banners wave proudly with the annual theme. This year is “Together Forward”. Posters, placards, in store-front windows welcoming marathoners and wishing them good luck. The locals working at the stores and restaurants ask if you’re here for the marathon. A reply of “Yes.” usually gets a “That’s is so cool. Good luck.” Or, “How many have you done?” Or, “Have a great time. Enjoy the race.” This is my fourth time and I enjoy each and every second of it. I took a ton of photos (as usual). Some are here. Many others I will use to create an album on the “Gallery” page next week. I will try to capture the essence of the Boston Marathon pre-race experience in words over the next few paragraphs. Though, I don’t think any words can truly describe it.
We got to Boston on Thursday and it took self-restraint to not run down to the finish line and just soak up the atmosphere. We didn’t get to the hotel until around 7pm, so a wiser course of action was to settle in, grab dinner, and plan for tomorrow’s fun. Friday morning, I went out for an easy run. Around Boston Common and up Boylston Street. Past the finish line and down to Hereford. Where, Monday, tens of thousands of runners will make the famous left-hand turn to the home stretch of the Boston Marathon. Those last few hundred meters are like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. The crowd is roaring. The finish line is there. You can see it. You know that you are going to be a Boston Marathoner. Forever united in accomplishment with strangers. Finishers of the most elite marathon in the world! A great start to the day, visualizing that finish. Headed to the expo to get my bib and spend some money. There may have been a few tears at bib pick-up. It’s real when you get that number in your hands. I’m going to run the Boston Marathon! Such an energy and buzz of excitement at the expo. A palpable anticipation. Had the pleasure of meeting up with some great folks there and later in the afternoon. Some of my running family.
Saturday I was up early to cheer on the BAA 5K runners. It is the only time that I go to a race without participating. And I love it. Elites lead the field. It is always so amazing to see them in person. Running paces that I can’t even imagine. Then, the thousands of others. Some haven’t even crossed the starting line by the time the elite race is done. I’m always struck by the diversity of runners. All shapes, sizes, ages, races. Bound by a common goal. And, each one has a story. Why they are there. Why they run. It is one of the reasons I love this sport. No matter our differences, when you are out there, you are a runner. You are after your own goals. There for your own reasons. But, surrounded by like-minded people. Part of a group. An intangible connection with each and every one. We are runners.
After the 5K, it’s time for the Invitational Mile. There are three events. The middle school 1K, the high school mile, and the invitational mile (for professionals). The course is a loop starting near the marathon finish line, over to Newbury and looping back to the marathon finish. Boys and girls, men and women, are run separate. For the kids, they have two athletes from each town along the marathon course (Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston) in each event. A little local town pride on the line. So neat to see the local youth have such an opportunity! I have watched every race every year I’ve been here. This is where the next generation of runners may be born. I almost enjoy it more that the professional races that follow.
Wrapped Saturday up with some more shopping. Must buy all the things Boston Marathon. Including shoes. And then, spent some time at the finish line. People watching. Thinking about Monday. Visualizing my race. My finish. Enjoying the celebratory vibe in the air. That’s one of the things about the Boston Marathon. People are happy to be here. Making it to the race is, in and of itself, an accomplishment to be celebrated. So, there’s the normal pre-race nervous energy, but also a feeling of success. No matter what happens on Marathon Monday. That may be even more true this year. The forecast for tomorrow is not conducive to fast running. Cool temperatures. That’s good. Pouring rain. Not great, but not terrible. Strong headwind (20-30 mph, last I checked). Not good. Really, really not good if you’re looking for a fast time.
Today, Sunday, is a day for true rest. I did a few treadmill miles as a shakeout this morning. Otherwise, hanging in the hotel. It’s been spitting snow and sleet, so don’t really want to go outside anyway! I have all day to make the final preparations. Racing gear is selected. Throw-away clothes for athlete’s village set out. Morning nutrition packed. Post-race meet point identified. Race goals re-assessed. A goal 3:09:59, B goal PR (3:14:48). I’m adding a C goal because of the weather. Sub-3:20. That headwind does not look like something to mess with. But, we’ll see in the morning. For now, I'm about to brave the cold, wintery mix to carb up at dinner. One more sleep until the 122nd Boston Marathon!!
Training Log April 9-15, 2018: Planned, 30-ish miles. 26.0 miles for the week.
Paces: R (recovery) = 9:09 or slower; E (easy) = 8:08-8:36; T (threshold) = 6:58
Monday – planned: 8R
8.0mi @ 9:10. Felt good! Had to be mindful to not exceed R-pace.
Tuesday – planned: 6R
6.1mi @ 9:14. Easy going.
Wednesday – planned: 9E w/1min surges @ T or faster
OFF – swapped with Thursday.
Thursday – OFF
7.1mi @ 8:11. Felt pretty good. Cut distance, but switched to 2min surges miles 2-6 (6:34, 6:46, 6:42, 6:42, 6:46).
Friday – planned: 5-6E
3.2mi @ 8:53. Easy by feel. Cut distance realizing I’d be walking a lot (~9mi according to Garmin).
Saturday – OFF
No running, but ~10mi walking around the city.
Sunday – planned: 4E w/5min @M to end
2.8mi @ 8:58 on treadmill (it was ~30F outside and I did not bring appropriate gear). Felt comfortable. Easy by feel for first two miles. Then, 7:13 for ~5min.
Until next week, or sooner. I’ll likely do a race re-cap in the next few days!
Own it, live it, be it.