In early 2015, the urge to run the Boston Marathon hit. Back then, the only “marathons” I had run were either in iron-distance triathlons or ultra-marathons. Being that neither of the aforementioned races does the marathon justice, I set out to qualify and did so at the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.
Fast forward to 2016 and I have blinders on. No triathlons (still). No ultras. Just marathon-specific running.
Boston Marathon training began at the start of the New Year after scrolling through Reddit. Yes, I loosely based my training around a post I found on Reddit. I complimented that with Strava’s Marathon Training Plan.
My self-prescribed plan was to ramp up to 80 – 90 miles a week. A typical week included three tempo runs, one hill run, and one long run. The rest were easy. Speaking of easy, I took a rest week every fourth or fifth week. Speaking of rest, I took four days completely off from 1 January until race day, 18 April.
In preparation, I ran 133-hours, 51-minutes, and 57 seconds, totaling 1,058.5 cumulative miles in 102 runs. Perhaps that’s a lot? I’m not sure. Whatever the case, I foam rolled and stretched at least fives times a week.
All in all, the training philosophy was simple: Feel good? Go fast. Feel sluggish? Go slow.
My time in San Diego was 2:50:01. I wanted 2:49:59 so that result was a touch disappointing. Focusing on Boston, I declared sub-2:40 as my goal. The rationale for the 10’+ PR was that I trained inconsistently going into San Diego. That, and aiming high is fun.
I nailed my Yasso 800s but began struggling to hit the goal pace in training (6:06/mile) after moving to Boulder. Running at a minimum of 5,430+ ft (1,655+ m) makes for sucky tempo. Nevertheless, uncomfortable is where all the good stuff happens.
The only thing I focused on pre-race was not going out too fast – the first 4 miles are downhill. After that, I knew there were screaming girls at the halfway mark and that there’s a “heartbreaking” hill around mile 21. Everything else would be a surprise.
I avoided too quick of a start and found a great rhythm, despite a steady headwind. That rhythm carried me a 1:18:56 half (6:03/mile) and lasted through 16-miles. Before I jump past the half, I have to comment on the Wellesley girls: I could literally hear them from a half-mile away! It was ridiculous and it was awesome.
As mile 16 became 17, I began to lose control over my breathing. Super convenient, as that’s where a few rollers began. I pushed on but was now running mile splits above my goal pace.
Heartbreak hill loomed, but Christen planned to situate herself along the hill, so Heartbreak was actually something to look forward to. However, trying to find a cute blonde girl with a black hoodie and pink t-shirt was no easy task. Black and pink shirts were everywhere.
Thankfully, she found me and I smiled… pathetically. Five miles remained and they were all downhill.
I tried picking up the pace, but couldn’t regain a solid rhythm. Sadly, sub-2:40 was now out of the question.
Turning on Boylston, I found an extra gear. As my pace increased, my mind slowed and I took in the experience of finishing the Boston Marathon. I felt an immense amount of gratitude running that final kilometer; for the sidewalks packed full of cheering spectators; for the encouragement coming in from every direction; and for the journey to make it to the start line. It all made for a special moment.
While euphoria is at an all-time high, reality is realized just after the finish line – everything hurts!
I crossed the line in 2:43:33. Good enough for 215th overall.
The Journey to Boston
In the grand scheme of things (i.e. training), the Boston Marathon itself accounted for 2.5% of all the miles I ran in preparation. In regards to time, it accounted for 2% of all the hours I ran.
It really is all about the journey.
While I’m happy with my 2:43:33, a fire still burns for a sub-2:40 performance.