Last Monday marked my first year since 2004 that I wasn’t on the Boston Marathon start line Hopkinton. Every year, I made the pilgrimage to Boston, “carbo loading” at Mike’s Pastry and spending a paycheck or two on a hotel room. I ran the year of the Nor’easter, the year it was 85 degrees at the start. I was cresting Heartbreak Hill when spectators told us Meb won (!!!), I was in my hotel room behind Copley when I heard the sirens. This year, however, I spent Marathon Monday on my living room couch, watching the elite runners with my jaw hanging open, goosebumps running up my arms. Like many other runnerds, I was rooting for Meb to repeat, and for Shalane Flanagan to be the first woman to make that right on Hereford, left on Boylston. I was surprised and a little confused when Shalane lost contact with the lead pack around mile 16, and then when she fell further and further behind through the Newton Hills. Was she injured? Was she sick?
Nope. Turns out it just a “bad day at the office.” Wait a second. Someone can spend months (or years) training for this race, for these two (or three or four) hours, making countless sacrifices (glass of wine? No thanks. More dessert? Nope, I’ve got a long run tomorrow), only to crash and burn the day of the race, for no other reason than your body is just not that into it?
Welcome to the marathon.
26.2 miles. That’s a lot of freaking miles. Back when I had a car, I usually didn’t drive that many miles in a day, let alone RACE them. I’ve run almost 30 marathons (and a 50 mile ultra) and the thought of racing 26.2 miles still scares the crap out of me. And that’s why I love it.
This training cycle, I’ve had more 80, 90, and 100 mile weeks than ever. I’ve had more 5:30am wake-up calls than I care to count. I’ve done more planking, squatting, and lunging than is considered normal… and to think it all might not work out the next time I embark on a 26.2 mile journey, is kind of a terrifying/amazing thing. But then again, there’s the chance it all will work out: I’ll be properly fueled and hydrated, the weather gods will bless us with cool temps and a tailwind, my head will be focused, my legs will work in sync with the rest of me. And that chance of having “the day”, will always bring me back.
Next week (ohmygod, next week?!), I’ll be racing the Long Island Marathon. I’ll be starting and finishing in Eisenhower Park and in between, will be spending a few hours out on the “scenic” Wantagh Parkway. I’ll try not to get choked up when I pass my 9 month old nephew with his three adorable teeth, when I see my sister and her husband (and their ex-racing greyhound!) cheering me on, when I see my aunt and cousin jumping up and down like lunatics, when I watch my boyfriend double fisting cameras to get a picture where I don’t look ridiculous/terrible/awkward. I’ll try not to lose my shit and start crying when I cross the finish line.
But I’m not making any promises.