A runner friend of mine the other day made a comment that it seems that although I have trained seriously for marathons in the past – there was something pushing me even harder for this one. My workouts were tougher, more specific to the challenges the Boston Marathon course presents and I seemed to be tacking on a lot of higher mileage during this cycle.
He said that it almost seemed like I was “out for revenge” or something.
Close, but not quite.
Revenge is a dangerous game. It was Confucius who said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” The implication being that the desire for revenge may ultimately hurt the seeker as much as the victim.
Redemption however, that is another story.
It has been exactly 97 weeks since we crossed the finish line of the 114th running of the Boston Marathon on April 16, 2010. It remains an open wound on an otherwise very satisfying 5-year run as a marathoner.
There are a handful of races where I would have done things a bit differently here or there either in my preparation for the event or during the race itself. But in those instances we are talking about a few seconds here, a few seconds there.
In the case of the 2010 Boston Marathon I left several minutes on the course that day and in the process failed to reach the only tangible goal I set for the first marathon of two in two weeks for Dom. I wanted to re-qualify for Boston at Boston. 3:20:59 would have gotten it done.
I finished 3:22:07.
There are plenty of ways to go about running a 3:22 marathon and being proud of the result, finishing strong. Giving your best from the first stride across the starting line to the final kick across the finish.
I didn’t do any of them.
I had an abbreviated training cycle due to a shin issue – then proceeded to run a rather foolish race – completely unprepared for the opening downhill 14 miles from Hopkinton to Newton. When it was finally time to climb I had very little left in the tank.
I suffered along Commonwealth Avenue to Hereford, made the turn onto Boyleston Street and crossed the finish line a beaten man.
I have thought about that race every single day for the last 97 weeks.
The experience changed me as a runner and as a man. I no longer ran workouts that were not for some type of purpose – even if that purpose was recovery. Each race built upon the one before it, where I would learn more about the sport, about preparation, about myself.
How much did I have inside of me to draw upon when I needed it most?
How much was I willing to sacrifice to achieve the goals I had set?
How much was I willing to hurt?
I also knew that above all else, I need to make it to Hopkinton this year in one piece and 100% healthy.
I would have to be smart about the types of workouts I chose to add to my arsenal, and especially smart as I nudged my weekly mileage from 55 miles per week to 65 preparing for the New York Marathon in November, now to 75 miles per week for Boston.
Jumping from 55 to 75 would be foolish. A 35% increase in mileage is a recipe for injury. But by building my base slowly and steadily over the past several months – we now sit on the precipice of something special.
This week took us to a new mileage record – 76.75 miles per week – with quality workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, wrapping things up with 22 miles on Sunday at 7:38 pace. Our fastest “long run” of the training cycle – just ticking off the miles at a comfortable pace, well below our race day goal of 6:52.
As the mileage mounts I feel like we are getting stronger.
Our resolve continues to harden. Today was the day where 2:59:00 became our hard and fast “A” goal for race day, save for a catastrophic weather day, where we will make sure that we run smart and adjust our goals accordingly.
There can still be victory in Boston even if our goal of a sub 3 hour marathon does not fall.
I want to retrace my steps from 104 weeks earlier and instead of being the recipient of a beat-down like the last time we battled Boston, I want to be the one doling out the punishment.
There will be 26,000 other marathoners on the course with me in 7 weeks. With the exception of the 20 or 30 friends and acquaintances I know who will be competing that day, who I wish great success to, all the other runners to me are irrelevant.
The last time I ran Boston I was running the race for Dom. Even though I hardly ever run a single mile without him in my head and my heart – this race I am running for me.
It has been a long time coming. 2 years in the making come race day.
7 more weeks of training remain – we’re just sharpening the sword from here on out getting ready to battle lady marathon for perhaps the final time.
April 16, 2012. Redemption.