Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Final Thoughts Before Boston

At last, after the adventures of campylobacter, which kept me from peaking; my eight-year-old daughter needing emergency surgery this past weekend, which kept me from topping off my last few runs and required 40+ hours of no sleep and a few pots of coffee; my mind turns to actually preparing for my trip to Boston (rather than crisis management). I enjoyed a perfect racing season for Chicago 2009, but this time, it's been anything but. In fact, I've quipped, "Anything else goes wrong, I won't actually BE at the starting line," in all seriousness.

But that being said, I'm ready to worry about trivial things, like, how do I get to the bus station and what will the weather be? promises warmish sunshine, and promises strong winds throughout the race. I'm merely hoping they'll be out of the west!

The course makes me a bit nervous, with plenty of hills, up AND down:

Unlike other marathons, where I watched my mile splits on a Garmin like a hawk, this time around, I might not even wear it. With the hills and no idea what I'm capable of anymore, it will be impossible for me to do any meaningful pacing. Much like my training of the last month, I will simply run this race by feel. I was pretty sure I hit my marathon pace during my 10-miler yesterday. It felt good; steady; sure; right. I just have no idea what that pace was, but I remember how it felt and will seek it.

What does a Boston success look like for me? Well, surely a finisher's medal so that I can proudly wear (and earn) my Official 114th B.A.A. jacket.

The cut-off time is 4:45 PM. So, I have just a hair over six hours to complete the race. I'm in the second corral, wave 2 (starting at 10:30 AM), so a few minutes will pass before I cross over the starting line. If things are going reasonably well, I'd be very happy to break four hours. For reasons of my own, I'd really like to break 3:58, although based on the travails of the last month, that seems a bit stretchy. The stretchiest goal I could possibly imagine at this point is re-qualifying for Boston AT Boston, which requires for me a 3:50:59 (I ran a 3:38:22 in Chicago last year). Though, that seems unlikely.

Mostly, it's a reflection of what really matters. I've already qualified. This is about the ability to let go and enjoy. Although I am a highly driven and disciplined person; I cannot hold myself to a specific standard.

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
~Orison Swett Marden


  1. Alex,

    Good luck with Boston this coming Monday!!

    Like I said, your misadventures make my life seem lame in comparison. And the best (worst) part of it is that none of this is self-induced.

    A lesser person would have backed out of running Boston a long time ago, based on everything that has happened to you this year.

    The fact that you are lining up on Monday makes you a hero in my book.

    I hope that your daughter is feeling better.

    At the end of the day, even though it takes up a great deal of our life, running is just a sport and a sometimes welcome diversion from the stress of everyday life. It should not be an additional layer of stress.

    Have fun on Monday, and good luck!

  2. Glad you're feeling better and hope your daughter is, too. All the best this Monday!

  3. Phil, Thanks so much! I'd say something about more misadventures... but I dare not tempt fate! Fortunately, my daughter is recovering really well from the surgery and as long as her check-up goes well tomorrow, I will feel comfortable about leaving. I'm looking forward to enjoying Boston for many newly found reasons I hadn't considered before! --Alex

  4. Lisa, Thanks! Let me know what you think about Bay State. The timing, weather and fast course make it an ideal Fall marathon for a PR :) --Alex

  5. I hope you're No. 15771 because that's who I'm tracking.

    You're too good to worry about the cut-off. Given your training setbacks, I like your attitude. Let the race come to you and enjoy the Boston experience.

    Good Luck. Have Fun.

    And glad to hear your daughter's coming along. (As an aside, a pigeon is staring at me through my office window as I type this.)


  6. Joe, Indeed! 15771. I had a great little fartlek today that left me burning to go faster. I think that's a really good sign; and I didn't give in but held to moderate. So, I'm a bit more hopeful than I was a few days ago (and have had a few nights of sleep to boot!). Thanks for the support! Wonder what that pigeon was thinking... --Alex

  7. I am so excited for you to be running Boston on Monday!!!!! You will have such an amazing day. I love the idea of not wearing a watch. You worked so hard to get there, just enjoy the entire experience. And hey, you're already qualified for Boston 2011 so if you really want to BQ in Boston you can always do it then. (Plus you'd get to meet yours truly in 2011.) lol Anyway, love the jacket! You will wear it with pride. Good luck Alex!

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  9. Sneakersister, Thanks so much! Maybe I will see you in 2011 :-). I'm really getting excited now. --Alex

  10. Best of luck to you Alex! Have a great time.

  11. Jesse, Thanks so much! I can't believe it's here in just... hours... really hoping it warms just a tad and stops raining. Brrr. --Alex

  12. Alex,

    Congrats on your Boston finish!

    You truly are an inspiration, especially in how to succeed despite adversity.

    There was a line in the movie Chariots of Fire that is very applicable to you. The line is "You can't put in what God left out" (i.e. Guts, Heart, Determination, Courage, Willpower).

    Enjoy your recovery. You earned it!

  13. Thanks, Phil! I really appreciate your kind words, and enjoyed reading them especially a couple of hours after I crossed that finish line. I'll write a race report soon. I'm still surprised I far exceeded my expectations, despite missing the start (whoopsie) and an unfortunate porta-potty wait / stop in Newton Falls (at mile 16). Alls well that ends well, and I'm very happy right now! --Alex