Boston was, is, and always will be awesome. It’s Boston. It’s the only race where we, the amateurs, get a moment to fly with the greats. To prove our grit and determination on a tough course with unpredictable weather and experience what it’s like to have an entire capital city turn out to cheer you on for 26.2 miles.
3 months ago I completed, for the second time, the hardest marathon I’ve ever run. It didn’t go the way I’d planned. It was harder physically, emotionally, and mentally. I don’t think anyone goes into a marathon expecting it to be easy, and none of them are, that’s what makes completing them so great. So if all marathons are Teachers, then Boston is the Dean. Here is what I learned this year.
1. Travel takes a toll.
2. Boston is hard.
3. Trust the weather report and make adjustments.
4. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by having extreme expectations.
5. Enjoy it.
First, travel takes a toll, more than I had expected. I should have rethought the red-eye; it’s cheap for a reason.
Second, Boston is hard, there are no easy parts of the course. Don’t let the elevation chart fool you. When you read it, it looks like you get breaks but you don’t, you have to fight the whole way.
Third, the weather is unpredicatable so pack a lot of options to wear for the race. We had cold, wind, rain, then more cold, wind, and rain. I checked the weather report 497 times a day and still didn’t make the right adjustments. I’ve run through tough conditions before, but never for 26.2 miles, in a city far from home, standing outside for 2 hours before the race. All of these factors turned a bad situation worse. My teeth chattered from mile 18 on and once I got cold, hypothermic cold, my body just wouldn’t respond so all could do was tough it out with everyone else and finish.
Fourth, high expectations can create disappointment. I trained hard, I wanted a PR, I wanted to race well for the St. George Running Center, I wanted to fly through that course. I didn’t, and it’s okay. It took me two weeks of mental anguish and post-marathon blues to come through that foggy mess. I realize now, that I put too much pressure on myself. When the race wasn’t going to go my way, I needed to make a mental shift and adjust my expectations.
Fifth, enjoy it. I ran, but I missed out on the race. I was so consumed with my goals that I didn’t pause to take the Boston experience in. I want to go back now and cheer on other runners, hug the volunteers, unplug through Wellesley, and soak in the finish line. What I regret was not ENJOYING what I was doing. Even when you think it doesn’t, those 26.2 miles go by pretty fast.
When I Run Boston again, I will remember to enjoy it. The enjoyment piece is such an important part of running our lives, one step at a time.
Do you ever put extra pressure on yourself when you race?
Have you run Boston?
What’s the toughest course you’ve run?