It’s hard to be patient when you are young. As one of the youngest guys on the Hansons-Brooks team I have had to constantly remind myself that my older teammates (guys like Chad, Mike, Luke and Brian) are essentially the “old and wise” ones when it comes to the marathon. They have been there, and done that- whereas I haven’t really done anything (yet.) So I follow them on runs, I listen to their stories and I learn. I have always believed that you should respect your elders- and I respect all those guys anyway because they also have run significantly faster than I ever have…and many of them ran fast at Boston.
In just over two weeks I will be toeing the starting line in Hopkinton looking down the first decent, and waiting to put months of hard work into the 26.2 miles that leads to Boylston street. That day cannot come any sooner! Sometimes at night when I close my eyes I visualize running by the fire station turn at mile 16 and looking up at the hills…my heart races as I imagine grinding up Heartbreak (the last big one) just after the 20 mile mark.
I’m confident-we’ve done the (down)hill work and I’m strong on the uphills anyway. I’ve never been so prepared for a marathon in my life. I’ve run miles and miles of workouts at 4:57, 5:07, 5:12 and 5:17 mile pace (all marathon race pace or faster). I’ve done the long runs, the 20 mile days. I’ve averaged 128 miles a week for the last 8 weeks- that’s record high volume for me. Before I set my marathon PR of 2:21 three years ago (as a junior in college), I had only run over 120 miles a week a couple times. Back then I was training by myself, with no one to push me in workouts or help keep me in check during the race. I was younger and more naive. For Boston this year I will have two teammates with similar goals and fitness levels. In the last 10 weeks we have basically run every step of training together…through the snow and ice…against the wind. There is a lot of synergy when you have a training group like that…we feed off of each other in tough workouts, and we ultimately support one another in all facets of life.
My teammates and I would like to run under the 2:19:00 Olympic trials standard at the bare minimum. I am confident that I can hit that time- despite the rolling hills of Boston and the threat of adverse weather. Ultimately, in my mind this is not a “do-or die race.” I am not particularly worried about the Olympic trials standard- it is merely just there for a goal reference. What is more important in my mind is that I execute a good race, and that I run to the best of my ability within the context of this training segment. I already put enough pressure on myself for every race- and when you’re racing a marathon you must be fully invested.
I’ve learned long ago to be able to mentally let go of things that you can’t control; things like weather, what your competitors do, whether or not your fluid bottle has been knocked over, etc. I may worry a little about those things: getting the swine flu, having food poisoning, getting hit by a car- but ultimately I know it is more proactive to focus on the things that I can control: what pace I run on race day, what I eat before the race, and how well I’ve run in my workouts for the past three months. So in these last couple of weeks when I become more and more anxious, I will also be constantly reminding myself (as clich? as this sounds): Patience is a virtue.
Finally, it is phases like these in training and in a running career that you can really start to reflect on what you are doing. Why are you running? I mean, distance running is one of the most selfish things to be doing right now. As an act of self-centeredness and as a lifestyle, it’s like you are “checked out” with the reality of the world around you. Sometimes I ask myself: “what am I running from?/ what am I running towards?” In the grand scheme of things, running may be a way of life, it may be a method of coping- or it may just be a way to keep from getting a beer-belly. But the “sacrifice” of time (your most precious commodity) and energy towards what others may see as such a fruitless endeavors can’t be totally meaningless. Like anything in life running a process, not just a means to an end. The point of the matter is that if you value something in your life (be it running or some other hobby) you can’t forget the influence and importance that activity may have on other individuals who are close to you. And I think that any positive impact you can have on other people’s lives is going to be enough to justify finding some meaning in your life- even if it is as simple as just continuing to put one foot in front of another.
Sage blogs on FLOTRACK