The Last Leg of Boylston: What I Learned During My Boston Marathon Journey – Part 2

May 15, 2017 — Leave a comment

Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.  Quite cliche, right?  Well it’s not cliche when you don’t listen to it!!  About six weeks out of Boston, I hurt my knee during a training run.  If this injury were to happen any closer to April 17th, I would have had to back out of my bid.  For over a week after the injury I walked as if Tanya Harding was my running coach.  When I finally could strap on the old running shoes, over two weeks had gone by.  I was pain free, and ready to hit the pavement.  Two miles down the road, I was limping myself back inside to sulk in agony.  I guess the injury wasn’t gone, and now I’m only four weeks out with no real idea on if I will be able to even run in Boston.  The next four weeks were going to prove to be the most crucial.

As I gave my leg two weeks off from running, maybe the two most important weeks of the training process were now gone.  Any endurance athlete knows that a week out you taper your runs, and I had to crank up my training right near the start of my tapering phase.  The problem was, I developed a severe case of the running itis.  Having not done anything for two weeks, it was hard to find (I should say MAKE) the time to go out running.  I got out to run twice in the final two weeks.  One of my runs was for some of the hardest 16 miles I’ve ever done, and another for only five miles.  I had effectively trained for 5 months, to blow it all in the last month.  Despite this, I was very confident in myself.  I was prepared for the best, and wasn’t expecting the worst.  This proved to be a BIG mistake.

I got up to Boston two days before the race.  I wanted to get up there and enjoy the city, and get settled in.  Still feeling confident that I was going to crush the race, I really enjoyed the city.  I went to Fenway, ate some great meals and drank whatever I wanted.  I knew it was going to be hot on race day, hotter than I have ever trained in before, but I figured that I could just drink a few bottles of water on Sunday and be good to go on Monday.  Again, prepared for the best, not expecting the worst.

Race day came, and the excitement of the day eliminated any doubt I still had left.  The city was alive!  There were people on every street, in every bar, on top of buildings and yelling from cars.  There were BBQs going on along the race route, and all 30 thousand or so runners were rockstars for a day!  I cruised through the first 10 miles as if I was out for a Sunday stroll.  The adrenaline from the crowds drowned out any fear of not finishing.  I took it all in, stopping to talk to people along the way, chatting with the volunteers, and flirting with the girls handing out water.  I had this race in my back pocket, it was going to be a breeze.  Little did I realize that I was starting to become dehydrated, and from all of the early downhill running my legs were fatiguing quickly from constantly decelerating.  I was not prepared for what was to come next.  The best was behind me, and that’s all I was prepared for.

I hit the halfway point, took a selfie and posted it for all of my “followers” to see that I was halfway, and kept moving.  I was still feeling food, but my legs started to get a little ache.  Completely normal after running 13 miles.  My plan was to pick up my pace in the second half, which was a great plan until I hit mile 17.  I felt the most paralyzing feeling I have ever encountered while exercising.  Both of my quads and my right calf decided to cramp up hard!  I felt like I was just taken out by a sniper.  My legs stopped working, and I came really close to falling flat on my face.  Just like that, my race went from the best, to the worst case scenario… which I was not prepared for.

The next nine miles ended up being the most trying and difficult three hours of my life.  While training, I could run nine miles in about 90 minutes MAX.  However, every ten steps I now took led to my legs turning into frozen rubber bands.  The only thing that kept running through my head, was how much I regretted not taking the final month of my training seriously.  It was to late at that point, and I had no other option but to grit my way through it.

Well, I did finish he race… barley.  It took me an hour and a half longer than I had anticipated it taking.  It was the hardest physical act I ever had to do!  I took it for granted that I was strong and in good shape.  Heading into race day, I was not physically or mentally prepared.  I thought I was just going to come in and crush it, 26.2 miles ain’t nothing!  Fortunately, there was a lesson learned in all of this.  Always make sure you are fully prepared for the absolute worst situation.  You should never take anything for granted, because the moment that you do it will come back to bite you in the ass.  I was prepared for the starting line, but adversity never shows up at the starting line.

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