Last April 15th, in the hours just after the Boston Marathon, I remember turning to my husband and saying through tears that it was "my first and last Boston Marathon -- I will never run it again." Of course, anyone who is even remotely tied into the running community knows how much we all want to be there this year. Runners all over the country signed up for marathons, ran countless training miles and pushed themselves to the limits of their abilities in order to qualify for this year's Boston Marathon.
Here's a little data to illustrate my point. This shows the Google search history for the phrase "qualify for Boston Marathon" from 2008 through the week after the bombings.
We runners want...
...to be a part of something historic
...to honor those killed and injured in last year's bombings
...to recognize the heroes that ran towards danger in order to help save lives
...to be together with our running family
...to help the people of Boston come one step closer to healing from this tragedy
...and to show the world that our spirit cannot be broken.
Because of all these reasons, last September 11th, I registered for the Boston Marathon. At the time, I hadn't run in over two months due to a chronic knee injury that began to plague me over the summer. I had no idea if I would even be running this spring but I hoped and dreamed and prayed I could somehow make it to Hopkinton on April 21st.
Over the past few months, my knee has slowly improved to the point that in mid-February with just 9 weeks left to train, I bought plane tickets to Boston. My training has been much different this cycle than last year. I can only run 3 days a week if I want to keep my knee pain in check so I am also supplementing with 2 days a week of deep water running. I am walking that very fine line between being trained and being injured -- trying to figure out just how much my knee can take without setting me back. I am so lucky to live just five minutes from incredible trails where my mind wanders as my feet just follow along the mud-packed trails.
Yesterday was a good test for my current fitness. I ran the 15K Shamrock Run in Portland. It is a very tough course with a long uphill climb followed by some fast miles to the finish. I have been running mostly flat routes for months in order to minimize the stress on my knees so this hill was HARD!
I finished in 1:10:52, which was a little over two minutes slower than my time last year. Truth be told, I was initially a little disappointed in my time. No one likes to feel as if they are getting slower. But then I remembered how lucky I am to be running at all and how much different my training has been this time around and I quickly changed my perspective.
I have to learn to appreciate every race for what it is...not for what it isn't. So I celebrated with a green smoothie! (Yes, I'm so wild and crazy.)
Last year, I was very focused on my time goal in Boston. This year, I will be focused on everything but time. I want to high-five all the kids standing along the sidelines. I want to scream with the girls at Wellesley. I want to give encouragement to the other runners. I want to thank all the volunteers for their support. I want to cheer for Dick and Rick Hoyt as they complete their last Boston. I want to take pictures along the course. I want to show my gratitude at being lucky enough to be a part of the race. I want my face to hurt from smiling so much. Basically, I want to savor each and every moment of the 26.2 miles.
And after the race, I want to celebrate! (Preferably, with something stronger than a smoothie!)
Who else is running a spring marathon? Boston? And have you ever ran a marathon just to enjoy it and not with a specific time goal?