In less than 24 hours, I’ll be headed off to complete a journey that started 12 weeks ago. 12 weeks of battling through an injury that never totally quit, 12 weeks of questioning my capabilities as a runner, and 12 weeks of all the ups and downs that comes with marathon training.
Except that, it really started 2 years ago.
I will be the first to admit that my attitude and perspective on this training cycle haven’t really been the best. I’ve been hard on myself way more often than I should have been, and instead of focusing on the progress and the journey, I focused on all the numbers that weren’t up to my standards. Numbers like amount of bathroom stops while I’m running, paces that are slower than I’ve run in years, and perhaps worst of all, constantly comparing myself to the miles and the workouts I was logging just months ago. Let’s just say, the number of times I’ve berated my current 9:00-minute mile pace compared to running a 7:20/mile half-marathon pace last October is a little embarrassing.
It hasn’t been the healthiest of outlooks, and consequentially it’s been the toughest training cycle I’ve ever been through; physically, of course, as I’m certainly not in my prime condition, but mentally, I’ve made this a lot harder on myself than I should have.
But somehow, within the past few days, I’ve had a bit of an awakening.
It started with the realization that my road to Boston has really been much more than just the past 12 weeks. It all began back as a simple idea; a sparkling dream in my newbie-marathoner brain. That dream would then take three marathons to complete, all of which were filled with lessons learned on how hard work and patience are necessary in this sport.
While I didn’t really realize it at the time, that third marathon, the one in which I finally claimed my ticket to Boston, was still just a stepping stone toward the grande finale of the dream.
In some ways, I think I thought that the idea of adding “BQ” to my runner resume ended after I’d solidified that sub-3:35 time. In my mind, after that, it was time to move toward improving my paces, my times, and my mileage even more. But that would be doing all the work without reaping the reward.
This weekend is the ultimate reward, and instead of viewing it as a false representation of my abilities, I’m changing my entire perspective.
Here are the numbers I’m choosing, then, to remember as I go into this weekend:
The hundreds and hundreds of miles I’ve run to earn my bib.The 0.02% of people in the world that will ever get the chance to run this race. The mere 4 months it’s been since I was too sick to even get off the couch. And most importantly, the amount of people who’ve supported me throughout it all.
This whole training cycle, I was mostly upset that I wouldn’t get to be my very best during the race. Normally when I show up at a starting line, I thrive off of doing (or at least attempting) the very best of my abilities. And although I went into this training cycle knowing that I could only really hope to makes it to the start line, I realized recently that I was never actually okay with surrendering my need to do my best. I couldn’t relinquish that control over my running and training, and consequentially I could never accept my lower mileage and slower paces. This made for a lot of disappointing runs and way too much self-doubt, all of which I could have taken a lot more control over.
But I was wrong.
I can do my very best on Monday. It might not be the perfect, fast marathon dreams I have for myself, but it will be the best with what I have to work with right now. That includes inevitable bathroom stops along the way, an IT band that’s more than likely not going to like the hills, and legs that for the time being don’t want to move as fast as I’d like them too.
So despite the fact that I’ve hated all these truths for the past 12 weeks, on Monday they will be a part of the runner that shows up in Hopkington. And that’s okay. I’ll be carrying all of them with me, and doing the very best I can with what the day has to offer.
Because it is going to be a glorious day. A day that is the reward for so many people and for a city that has demonstrated the resilience and power of the running community. I am honored to be a part of it, and when I think of the grander scheme of this race and my own journey in getting here, I don’t feel any of the self-doubt that’s plagued me. I feel so much joy, enthusiasm, and passion for this sport, the people in it, and the people who’ve followed all along the way.
On Monday, I want to turn my Boston Qualifier title into a Boston Finisher title. I want to cherish every step of the way, I want to embrace the pain when it comes, and I want to smile the entire time. Those are my goals for a successful race, nothing more, nothing less. And I couldn’t be more excited for it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my mantra for this race, because I feel like the right one is out there…it just hasn’t been coming to me. The line from “Roar” by Katy Perry that says, “I went from zero to my own hero,” kept me motivated when I was so sick in December, so that was an option. “Let it Go” from Frozen is also, I admit, one of my current favorite anthems, and it resonated with the theme of kicking my negativity to the curb.
(now is when you get to snicker at my teenage song-loving tendencies)
Both of those felt too trivial, and perhaps more than anything, too self-centered. I want this race to feel like a celebration of more than just me, more than just the runners, but of the symbolism of the race. Because it’s a race about people, and the transformative power that adversity and perseverance can have on us all.
And then, on my little recovery 6-miler last Sunday morning, my mantra came to me:
“It’s the hard that makes it great.”
In A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks says this to Gena Davis when she’s threatening to quit baseball since it’s too hard. He comes back with, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
This is the idea I’ll be remembering in the toughest miles on Monday, and it’s what I’ll be remembering when I observe the strength of the runners and spectators around me.
The hard is what makes the marathon so mighty. Pushing beyond the hard, in running and in life, is what draws out the resilience in people. The theme of embracing, overcoming, and conquering challenges is incredibly relevant for this running of the Boston Marathon, and I want to remember that the whole 26.2 miles.
Thank you all for your support along the way. I couldn’t feel more honored to be one of the 36,000 runners lining up next Monday. If you do want to follow along, my bib number is 17245.
Time to finish this wonderful journey. Let’s do this thing, Boston!