I'll tell you when......when you finish your last long run prior to the Boston Marathon....that's when!
It still seems like yesterday when I got the email from the Melanoma Foundation of New England inviting me to join their team (thanks, Trish!!), but it was back on October 26th of last year......more than 5 months ago. What still lies ahead for me on my quest has been near the front of my mind ever since that day, and through all the long days of training, the carrot was out there before me, still out of reach.
Only now, my real training is done......and all that's really left is to toe the line in Hopkinton next Monday morning, and not stop running until I hit the line in Boston.
Today's run was a good one.....a route I know well here in Franklin. Incorporating several good hills, it requires an honest effort, and I gave it one today. It was a grey, somewhat chilly day (only around 50 degrees) with gusty winds, so I knew I'd enjoy some tailwinds to make up for the inevitable headwinds! I intended to run conservatively, but to go a bit when I felt like going. I think the splits bear it out:
Mile 1 : 9:36
Mile 2: 9:05
Mile 3: 9:32
Mile 4: 9:33
Mile 5: 10:30 (big hill...LOL)
Mile 6: 9:21
Mile 7: 9:42
Mile 8: 8:58
Mile 9: 8:52 (ok, it was only .13 miles, but still....)
So it was 8.13 miles....1:17:24.....9:31/mile
31% of the marathon.....and the end of the training schedule. A few short easy runs, a few days off, and then it's time for the 116th Boston Marathon.
So like my buddy Michael, I've been thinking about my goals for next Monday, and being a teacher, I can't help but think of them in terms of grades. So just like Michael, I'll work my way down through them from "F" to "A".
F: Fail............my one biggest worry through the entire training process was that an injury or illness would keep me from reaching the starting line in one piece. When my right foot/ankle was giving me fits, I was honestly a bit worried, but a period of rest and a bit of a premature taper nipped that in the bud. No, I'm not going to fail.........
D: Barely a passing grade............I think the only way I can achieve that would be to finish Boston, but ending up injured and/or slowly. No matter how I finish, as soon as that medal is around my neck and that flimsy little shiny blanket is draped around my shoulders, nothing else will really matter. Sure, I'd like to put up a respectable time, but after all the training and all that I've gone through over the last 5+ months, the finish is the thing. Anything beyond that will be gravy.
C: Average..........ok, so now we're talking time. My previous marathon experience was fairly miserable......an ugly day weather-wise......I ran hurt, and finished in 4:58. So I guess an average finish would be around that time. Given that the Boston course is a hard one, it might actually be a realistic goal....even though I know I'm capable of running faster, if I can finish in a time close to my previous time, I'd be able to walk away happy!
B: Very Good........this would be a solid PR. I think I'm capable of bringing it in around 4:22. For those of you who don't like doing math, that's 10:00/mile. I'd like to believe that on a good day, I could bang out nearly endless 10's.....and if I'm going to have a good day, why not have it happen on the same day as the Boston Marathon? :>)
A: Excellent.....the ultimate achievement.........and while I'd like to shoot for a time goal, that's not what I think my real goal is or should be. In all likelihood, I'm not going to ever run Boston again. I'm never going to be fast enough to qualify on time. With the help of many generous donors, I was able to achieve my fundraising goal, but I'm not sure I could do it again next year. Then there's the actual expense associated with running Boston (hint....it ain't cheap!)......sure, it's one of the World Majors and truly one of the world's greatest sporting events, but I ain't made of money. No, this is probably going to be a one-time thing, so my goal is to take it all in and enjoy it. From the start in Hopkinton, crossing the train tracks in Framingham, running through the Tunnel of Love at Wellesley College, crossing 128, turning right at the fire station and staring the climb up the Newton hills, then cruising past Boston College.....the "Haunted Mile"........finally seeing the Citgo sign....running past Fenway Park....and finally right on Hereford and left on Boylston......seeing the finish line......and then let the celebration begin! No, my real goal is going to be to enjoy the experience and make some great, lifelong memories.
I can't wait to go to the Expo on Saturday.......gotta go pick up my number and probably buy a whole bunch of stuff I didn't even know I needed. Then our team is having a family brunch on Sunday.....and then I'll have to try to sleep Sunday night. Of course, first I have to get through this week......oh, it's going to seem so long, but I also know that before I know it, it'll be time to go..........26.2 miles.
Thanks for reading........hope you all had a wonderful Easter or Passover, or for some of you, both! I wish you all a great week ahead, with nothing but sunshine and tailwinds!