Sunday, April 17, 2011

What Goes Through Your Mind the Night Before a Marathon

Tomorrow marks my fourth start at the Boston Marathon. Hopefully it ends with my fourth finish, but honestly, one can never be too sure, especially under the conditions I faced in the last few weeks--all winter if I'm being completely truthful with myself. Too much skiing over running: good but maybe not the best use of my leg muscles with 26.2 miles within sight. Feeling more in shape a month ago than I do right now: a result of February boot camp, quality workouts (even if they were on skis) and all that skiing. A cold that crept into my system almost a week ago and completely sidelined me--when my workouts come to a halt because I can't drag myself out of bed, you know something is wrong. A soreness in my left leg, my trouble leg as I like to call it thanks to shin splints and knots and an overused calf muscle, that randomly appeared nearly two weeks ago and has worried me to the point of spending hours online looking up tendinitis, stress fractures, tenderness, massage techniques and more. I sound like a walking nightmare, don't I?

So why am I still running? I wonder that myself sometimes. But the problem is you don't know if you're feeling these things because you're nervous about the race--remember Liz's seven days of taper trauma--or if you really are down and out. The other issue is that everyone who knows you're running thinks you can do it and still boosts your spirits, says you're in shape so you know you can finish, and assures you that the race will be fine. And then you walk over to Boylston Street, see that finish line that you're supposed to be crossing in less than 24 hours (likely pose to take a picture, too), feel all the energy that arises among all those other runners, talk to complete strangers about the sport--it makes you want to run even more. Oh, it probably doesn't hurt to have my parents among the crowd, especially since my husband had to stay home, and knowing that they're going to be cheering just before the Newton hills and again in that final stretch. Hopefully I won't let anyone down, including myself. I'll just have to put on that determined face, that look we know so well from watching elites like Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher, when they're trying to maintain, or take, a lead. And oh how I want to sport that signature adidas Boston Marathon jacket, yellow long-sleeve shirt, and medal around my neck tomorrow afternoon.

Good luck to all the runners out there tomorrow! If I wasn't running, I'd be tracking you in addition to some leader favorites like Hall and Goucher, plus Desiree Davila and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Yes, I was excited when I heard they were all running, to share the course with these famous fast feet. But if I don't get to sleep soon, or at least try harder to sleep, I'm going to be even farther from fast--my kinda fast--in the morning. Like the title of a George Clooney film, good night and good luck!

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