Every great success story starts the same way.

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , ,

This morning we wrapped up our second to last run of the training cycle.  All that stands between us and the starting line in Hopkinton are four easy miles tomorrow morning, a race bag to pack, a cross-country flight and a 2-mile shake-out run along the banks of the Charles river on Sunday morning.

In 2010 the day before the Boston Marathon I left the hotel on a cool morning and jogged down to the river.  I literally ran right into some of the international elite athletes who were running their easy workout before the race.

Watching them float along effortlessly at a pace well under 6 minutes per mile was humbling.  They looked as if they were just out for an early morning cruise.

An effort that for me produces a pace slightly over 8 minutes per mile.

That is one of the things that makes Boston so special.

In some circles, among some runners – anyone who has qualified for the Boston marathon is an “elite” runner, whatever that term means to them.

For those of us chasing a new PR or a stretch goal like breaking 3 hours for the first time in the marathon we look at those runners in the corrals ahead of us in absolute awe and admiration.  Each of them has been where we hope to go.

Standing behind us will be runners hoping to be where we are.

Behind them, even more runners who hope to be where they are.

At the back of the last wave the charity runners will stand hoping one day to run Boston as a qualifier.

It makes the race, which truly is an International event, bringing out the top distance runners from every corner of the world accessible to the masses.

I feel as if I will be running literally in the very footsteps of Ryan Hall, Meb and Mutai.  30 years ago was the famed 1982 Duel in the Sun between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley.  Before them it was runners like Bill Rogers and Johnny Kelly.

Bill Rogers - Bib 1

On Monday we will run through the same small towns of Ashland, Framingham and Natick.

We will roar down the road past Wellesley College and the famous screech tunnel.

Ryan Hall - Wellesley College 2011

We will fight our way up and over the Newton Hills, past Boston College at the top of Heartbreak Hill and summon everything that we have left to race the final 5 miles to the finish line on Boylston Street.

When I stood at the starting line of the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2009, my second ever, I wondered if I was truly capable of running a Boston time.

I remember being a bundle of nerves and nervous energy in the starting area before the gun.  I wondered if I had trained hard enough, if I was prepared enough, if I was fast enough.  Did I want it badly enough?

I surprised myself that day and executed a near-perfect race plan to qualify with a 3:17:43, making my Boston time by more than 2 full minutes.

This week I am chasing another lofty goal – a sub 3:00 hour marathon with the same feelings of nervousness, humility and on some level – fear – to be completely honest.

Three years, five marathons and more than 7,000 training miles later – things haven’t really changed very much at all.

I am fighting an internal battle, trying to push myself as close to the edge of my capabilities as possible – while still running a smart, technical, disciplined race.

One that if we pull it off the way we are hoping, we will be running for more than 2 hours and 30 minutes before things really get “interesting”.

It will be those final 30 minutes, with roughly 4 miles to go that will make or break our race.

They will be painful.  They will seem to stretch on forever.  Every small ripple in the road whether it is up or down will seem mountainous.

But those four miles are the ones that I am most looking forward to.  In New York, I let off the gas.

I was content with running a huge PR – and when I reached the hills in Central Park I just stayed steady and ran through to the finish.  Guarding against pushing too hard and blowing up a mile or two from the finish line at Tavern on the Green.

This time the goal is different, the race course sets up more “fair” over the closing 4 miles than New York does with its late hills on 5th avenue and Central Park East.

It is going to be about wanting it badly enough and blocking out all of the negative thoughts and emotions for just 30 more minutes.

Gradually opening the faucet ever wider until we spill everything that we have left onto Commonwealth Avenue, Hereford Street and Boylston.

There will be plenty of time to rest once we are done.  But for those final miles, we need to go to a place we’ve never been before.  A place quite frankly that 5 days from race day, I’m a little afraid of.

Running Boston at one time in my life seemed as absurd as me becoming an astronaut.

The thought of a sub 3 hour marathon?  Sheer lunacy.

When you think about it.  That describes just about every great success story.

Time to go get ours.

  1. tbrush3 says:

    Best of luck in Boston my friend! Enjoy the ride.

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      Thank you Trey! Keep hanging tough with that foot issue you are dealing with. 2012 may not be the year for Boston for you – but you are awfully close Trey – get right and you’ll be a dangerous man by the end of the year. Best to the family!

  2. Andy B. says:

    Good luck on Monday. I’ll be following along online. I hope you get the same weather we had last year.

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      Thanks Andy! I too am hoping that WNW wind they are predicting sticks around for Monday. We’ll be out there doing our best no matter what. I hope I can make your work morning on Monday a little “interesting” around 11:45-Noon Austin time 🙂

  3. Mark W says:

    Great sentiments to cap off a great cycle and tremendous series of blog posts. I’m sharing this one especially with Tammy as I think your perspective will be great for her to see as she starts really freaking out about Boston. Can’t wait to get our families together for dinner on Sunday. Safe travels my friend.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Mark for everything. I remember this cycle really “starting” with that run over the holidays with you and David on the Montour Trail. Now we’re staring down race day. Amazing. Tammy is going to have a wonderful race with such a great pacer and guide next to her the whole way. Looking forward to dinner Sunday – going to be one of the highlights of the weekend! Take good care my brother. Travel safe.

  4. robinandamelia says:

    It’s also the 40th anniversary of women being “allowed” to run in Boston (as registered runners). A truly historic place in all respects. Good luck to you on Monday…I’m sure that race is in you and can’t wait to hear all about it afterwards!

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      Hi Robin! Very apropos this 116th running of Boston with a lot of tremendous milestones. It’s one of the things that makes this race so special. Hope you are great!

  5. ttrodriguez says:

    Best of luck on Monday!! I’ll be there running behind you in wave 2. I’m super excited and ready for Monday to be here already. Enjoy the last few days of your taper =)

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      TT – thanks so much for the message and kind words! Enjoy every bit of it out there on Monday. There is NOTHING like Boston. Have a great race!

  6. Erin Ruyle says:

    “Running Boston at one time in my life seemed as absurd as me becoming an astronaut.
    The thought of a sub 3 hour marathon? Sheer lunacy.
    When you think about it. That describes just about every great success story.”

    ^^^ Love this, Joe. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and appreciate how far we’ve come. Thank you for the reminder. Best of luck out there on Monday! When it gets tough those last 4 miles, just remember there is beer at the end 🙂

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      Hi Erin! Thanks for the message and yes. As sure as the sun rises in the East …. there will be beer! Have a safe trip – see you guys in Boston!

    • Mark W says:

      Whatever happened to Erin R?? Glad to see you are still alive and well. Good luck on Monday Erin.

      • Joseph Marruchella says:

        Erin R. is alive and well Mark! She and Dan (hubby) will be at the post-race drinking session …. I mean, meet-up at Cuffs on Monday!

      • Erin Ruyle says:

        I am indeed live and well 🙂 Excited to hear you and Tammy are running Boston! Looking forward to catching up over beer(s) at Cuffs!

      • Mark W says:

        Sound’s great Erin!

  7. Jodi says:

    I agree with Erin! I love those statements about absurdity and lunacy but you are right it does describe every great success story! I can’t wait to follow along on your journey on Monday! My phone is all set up to receive text messages! Go show Boston what you are made of my friend!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jodi! Thanks for all the great support. Pretty cool turn of events with you following my race on Monday instead of me following one of yours! Take good care, I’ll be sure to run a mile out there for you. Best, J

  8. Rob Savarese says:

    Well said Joe. Hope to see you on Saturday and at the finish with a 2:59 (or better) on your watch.

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      Thanks Rob! Looking forward to seeing you at the meet-up – and yep, I’m curious too to see what the watch says on Boylston Street. I think we’ll know about mile 18 if we’ve got a shot at it.

  9. Matt F. says:

    I’ve enjoyed following your journey to Boston Joe. I love how you worked on specific things for Boston. You have prepared very well. Looking forward to following your progress Monday. Safe travels and have a great race. I know you will leave it all on the course.

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      Matt – thanks so much for the message and kind words. I’m going over my notes from 2010, reading more course information and downloading my plan to my mind’s hard drive. All we have left now is to execute. I’m nervous, but excited. Take good care!

  10. Michael says:

    Have a great race Joe and the sub-3 is yours! Didn’t get to meet you in Va Beach but i am sure there will be more opportunities… like you said, we, slow runners, hope to be qualifiers one day.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Michael! Looks like a hot race day in Boston, which doesn’t bode well for a race that starts at 10:00 a.m. A lot can happen between now and then, let’s hope that cold front comes in a day earlier than they are predicting. Best to you Michael. Hopefully next time in VA Beach we will get a chance to do some racing.

  11. Joe, I came across your site while searching for Pace Strategies for Boston. What I thought would be a quick read has turned into me spending a considerable amount of time reading through your Blog. In fact, I even read several of your posts to my wife since I was so impressed with your writing. Bottom line, your site is everything mine is not and I admire the fact that you took the time to share your thoughts. Most of all, I admire your dedication to Dom, the money you’ve raised for
    his family, and your drive/determination to run a sub 3 in Boston. You will do it! You will absolutely do it!

    We (my wife and 2 kids) leave tomorrow for Boston at 8:30 AM from Dallas. I’m chasing the same Sub 3 as you. While I thought I put in some serious miles and workouts these past 4 months, your workouts blow mine away in regards to the miles you put in. Again, I know you will Sub 3 Boston. You deserve it. You earned it.

    Thanks for all of the great information you’ve posted. it really helps others like myself.

    All the best to you on Monday. I look forward to reading about your Sub 3.


    • joerunfordom says:

      Bradley – thank OU so much for the kind words and the great message! I will for sure look to see how your race goes on Monday. Sounds like unfavorable weather in the forecast, which will very likely make me reevaluate my goals for Monday, but a lot can change between now and race day. Safe travels and have a great race! On to Boston!

  12. smacalli says:

    Looking forward to reading all about it, Joe! Kill it!

  13. Joseph Hayes says:

    Man, when I read your posts it really gets my blood flowing! And regardless of how tired I am I want to jump up and go run, then come back to the computer and register for another race. You’ve trained your butt off, you know yourself, and you race smart. Regardless of how Boston turns out you will be a success. Thank you again for sharing and helping to motivate other runners!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Joseph! Thanks so much for the visit and the message! Looks like we drew a bad card with the weather forecast for Monday – looks like it will be in the high 80’s for the race. Just a shame we won’t be able to go out and execute the race plan spent months training for, but the marathon works like that sometimes.

      Going to be a tough day out there, but we’ll run our best. Sometimes that has to be enough. Take good care and best to you with your running and racing!

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