Now that I’m all settled in a new place, here’s one of the posts that’s been sitting around…
The last year has been a bit unusual for me.
Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve pretty much PRed every race I’ve run.
If not a new PR, I’ve run exactly the same time as my then-PR (twice! Once in back to back half marathons and another with 5Ks that were a year apart). Disregarding races when coming back from injuries of course.
So the Boston Marathon was a bit of an anomaly.
Add into that, Boston is Boston. It’s a race full of fast people that some of us (who are young or not serial Boston runners) have dreamed the ‘if only one day I can be fast enough to run it’ dream.
Little bit of back story here. All through high school, I was horribly mediocre at a lot of things, especially sports. It wasn’t that I was bad, per se. I simply saw myself as mediocre and put forth little effort to be better than that.
I wasn’t incapable of being better. It was a mind over matter thing; I didn’t believe I was capable.
Luckily, a rekindled love for distance running and some awesome friends over the years since has transformed me into someone willing to aim for better and take the risk. And I think this first Boston Marathon was a culmination of that personal journey.
A giant “TAKE THAT!” in the face of who I used to be.
Which made it that much more important that I not only complete Boston, but that I do well. I’ve found it’s a silly game that athletes as a whole play. That we’re never good enough for what we strive for. To some extent, that’s great because we keep reaching.
In others, it’s absolutely ridiculous because we put ourselves down for not meeting a [usually] crazy perceived standard (the “I’m only running 10 miles today“ like that’s something to be ashamed of). There’s been articles on it. (I totally can’t find one right now.)
The ridiculous thing is that my 3:45 at Boston is still better than my first marathon & by itself respectable. Don’t forget maybe even more than respectable, considering the course and conditions we had to run in. Still, I had solid training and was really hoping for that 3:30.
So I decided to run another marathon.
Even worse, only 5 weeks afterwards (something I told myself I’d never do. Lies!). Forget that I barely had time to recover from Boston & was allowing the fatigue to build up, it also meant tacking on another 5 weeks of training.
The point is, even being happy with my performance at Boston (I mean, there were tears!) I still felt like I needed to do another race. To do better. This weird perception that I’ve spent years running well and that translated into PRs. So if I didn’t get another, I had somehow failed. Which is extra crazy because Boston was only my 3rd marathon. Number 3!
Deep in my mind I knew by the time I was packing for the M2B Marathon that a 3:30 wasn’t likely. Yet that wasn’t going to stop me from trying anyways. I’d also had time to recover mentally from Boston. More than anything, by that point, I felt like my performance at Boston was hanging over me a little (all in my mind of course).
No redemption needed, but instead a chance to break my post-Boston mindset.
I didn’t realize until M2B was done and more than 7 minutes faster just how much Boston was subconsciously weighing on me. Somewhere in the depths of my mind I felt like that 3:33 that qualified me was a fluke. That I’d never be able to get close to that level again. Call it a folly of youth?
And let’s be real – flukes in athletics rarely happen. You don’t accidentally run a time you’re physically incapable of. Yet I was stuck in this mental mire that my time at Boston was a sign that I wouldn’t be able to catch up to where I was post-Marine Corps Marathon.
Even if I didn’t get a 3:30 at M2B, I was aiming to clear that cloud over my head. So I could really and truly be proud of what I’d accomplished so far as a marathoner at the age of 25.
While running the M2B Marathon was kind of stupid & definitely rough on my body, I’m glad I did. I got to hang out with a new friend, get another race under my belt, do well, and ultimately have fun. And I came back out of it with a renewed understanding of why I do this. Plus the knowledge that my first sub-3:40 marathon wasn’t just a lucky race.