You know, sometimes it’s just the simple things in life.
I woke up on Sunday morning with our last “real” long-run on the schedule for Boston.
Sure we have a relaxed pace 20-mile run 15 days before Boston. But that run is more a victory lap of our training program than anything else. When we reach the driveway at the end of those 20 miles, we will be deposited at the beginning of our 14-day taper prior to the starter’s gun in Hopkinton, MA on April 16th.
Just some light speed work, a few mid-mileage runs, but no heavy lifting prior to race day.
That last 20-miler almost runs itself, as all signs point to race day at perhaps the greatest road race in the world.
But this past Sunday our last “tough” long-run remained. Still 5 weeks from race day, too far out to see the end of the journey, but far enough along the path to know that you are tired, beat-up, worn down and your legs just aren’t as “fresh” as they were 12 or 13 weeks earlier.
Rain was falling as I started the run, as it had for the better part of the last 36 hours. I ran 12 miles on Saturday in falling rain and wet shoes. Looked like we would have a repeat of that on Sunday. Time to go to work.
As I ticked off the miles one after another I thought about the final miles in New York. How tired I became late in the race, how when the course started to fight me over the Willis Avenue Bridge and the uphill stretches in Central Park, I just couldn’t hold on to marathon goal pace – slowing :20 seconds or so per mile.
This training plan, with more mileage, more 20+ mile long runs, doubles on Tuesdays and even more hillwork than usual was all designed to fight off late race fatigue. To make me stronger “late” in the marathon, so I could race to the finish over the final 5 miles after cresting heartbreak hill.
Around mile 8 on Sunday I decided that I would stretch the run out from our scheduled 21 miles to 23. I had never run that far before without someone handing me a medal after I stopped. It would be a good test in lousy conditions to see just how I handled miles 21, 22 and 23.
As I passed the house at mile 17, only 6 miles remained. I dropped my water belt and headlamp in the yard and thundered down our street for 6 more miles of an out and back.
Mile 19 – 7:58
Mile 20 – 7:48
Mile 21 – 7:38
Mile 22 – 7:32
Mile 23 – 7:25
What started as a 21-mile run at marathon goal pace (6:52 min.mile) + :60 seconds ended in:
23 miles – 2:59:26 (7:48 pace). 2 miles longer, :04 seconds/mile faster.
The best part was how easy the final miles felt. I knew that I could have just kept ticking them off one after another had I wanted to, all this at the end of a 74 mile run week.
I treated myself to a nice cold beer at dinner on Sunday night – one of the last I will have before the post-race celebration after Boston where I’ll either be toasting a new Marathon PR or once again lamenting a race course that continues to haunt me. But for Sunday – it was the little things, like tacking on an extra couple of miles and a frosty cold beverage that reminded me that the best things in life are not necessarily the big ones.
On Monday, Landry woke up with a fever and could not go to school.
She was going to have to stay home for the day, which meant either Mommy or Daddy was going to have to do the same. It turned out that I was the lucky one and got to hang out all day with my little girl.
Marathon times, mile splits, running 23 miles in the rain – that’s all small stuff.
The big stuff is right in front of me on a daily basis. Helping raise Landry in a loving household, teaching her things along the way and hopefully giving her a chance to chase down here own dreams and aspirations – whether they exist as a painted line on a street in Boston Massachusetts, a classroom, a laboratory, orchestra pit or operating room.
Whatever it is that she wants to be, I only wish that she achieves all of her goals.
If you could guarantee me that right now – I would take it in a heartbeat and forget all about 2:59 at Boston.
At the end of the day, it’s the little things that make all the difference. I don’t think Landry will care one bit if Dad hits his goal in April or finishes a few minutes afterwards. The hugs are going to feel just the same.