As the Boston Marathon gets closer, I am thinking about what an emotional and proud day it will be. Having run Boston in 2011, I felt like the cowardly acts undertaken that day took something out of me, too. Everyone – runner or not – had to feel some sort of loss, but I think runners, especially those that have competed in Boston, were hit even harder. Innocent people. Runners, family, fans, and volunteers were attacked for participating in something they love, something with history, something that was supposed to be triumphant.
Here is the thing, though. It was triumphant. From the moment after the bombs went off and every moment since, there have been stories of those that were injured and those left with deep emotional scars taking on and succeeding the challenges before them. Sorry, terrorist scumbags – that is exactly what the spirit of the marathon is all about. People don’t give up, even when they might have every reason to do so. Boston wins.
I knew the moment I saw what happened last year that I wanted to be there this year to be part of the healing process. Donating to the One Fund was a start, but I wanted to go in person to run the course and to give something back right where evil people tried to steal it. I am not running to PR this one. I want to celebrate it with as many people along the way as I can, no matter what my finish time might end up being.
Faster, Farther? Someday, It Won’t Be Either!
After that? Then what? I can say with absolute clarity that my body, mostly my legs, was pretty well wrecked after the Marine Corps Marathon. As I noted in my race recap, I was 100% spent at the end of that race and felt pretty bad for about 30 minutes afterwards. There was nothing left in the tank, and I was terribly nauseous and dizzy until I got a little food, recovery drink, and Michelob Ultra into my system. In retrospect, I know I need to continue to improve my race nutrition, and I am just flat-out running too heavy. Both of those things can be addressed.
This October, I will be running the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, New York. (It’s okay to talk about it. It’s only 222 days away!) Should I stay injury-free and have good summer training, I intend to “go for it” at this one. The course profile is ideal, and training in the summer and fall is easier than winter and spring. I am resolved to improve my nutrition, my overall training, and to drop to a more ideal race weight again. My love of the beers of the world will have to be kept in check, but that is simply a state of mind.
The longer term question to address is whether or not to try to keep running marathons and getting faster? Although the pain was temporary, I’m not sure I want to feel like I did at the end of the Marine Corps Marathon. I know there are things I can do to be better prepared for this fall, but how much more time can I actually shave off? I’m not prepared to answer that now, but more likely I am relegated to continue asking myself that for a few years to come. Someday, the answer will be found in the results. I will know my fastest marathon time sometime after I’ve run it, and there is at least a chance I did it last fall.
There are many other distance races that marathons. Longer? I really don’t see myself running any ultras. I sure don’t plan on signing up for anything soon. Triathlons? I am missing two critical elements necessary to do a triathlon. I don’t own a bike, and I am not what one would refer to as a “strong swimmer.” Unless it is acceptable to show up at the edge of the water wearing water wings, I don’t envision any triathlons or duathlons in my future.
What about shorter races? This may be the part of the answer for two different reasons. The best reason is that running shorter races will make me a better marathoner. A huge part of my training plan involves speedwork and tempo runs, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are critical to a successful distance run at accelerated paces. The other reason is that shorter races clearly do not create the same wear and tear on the body, and there are a lot more of these races scheduled throughout the year closer to home. Over the longer term – even if I continue to run marathons – I’ll probably run a lot more of the shorter distances and should learn to embrace them more.
In that light, I am signed up for a half marathon this coming Sunday to compliment my spotty Boston training, and I think I will sign up for the Bolder Boulder 10k, which is on Memorial Day. It has been a couple years since I’ve run it, and I have always had a special connection to it, since it was the first race in Colorado that I ran after I started running in 2007. After that, I’ll be entering into summer training, and will have to incorporate shorter distance races into my marathon training plan where appropriate.