The Lure of Boston

It's been 5 years since I last ran a marathon.  When I became completely addicted to triathlons, my focus shifted away from all running all the time, to become a 2 sport athlete.  I still ran some 1/2 marathons, and had some 15+ mile training runs when I gearing up for a half Ironman distance tri.  But I have to admit, in the end, I didn't miss running 20+ miles on any given Sunday.

The lure just wasn't there anymore.  I had been hooked on marathons for a handful of years, and was always looking forward to the next one.  But while I say I was hooked I don't think I was 100% hooked.  The Boston Marathon was just never something that was that big a deal to me (I know, I know).  For some reason I never had that urge, that "need", to run Boston.  I have a number of friends that I run with that have qualified for, and run, Boston.  There has always chatter around who we knew that qualified and who was running it this time around.  I knew that running Boston was a goal that most marathon runners have, but for some reason I just didn't have that itch.  So I was happy with my triathlons and running a 1/2 marathon here and there.  And the last two triathlon seasons have been full.  I've kept plenty busy training for Olympic, and half Ironman distance races.

Something changed this past winter and spring.  The group of maniacs that I run with during the weekday mornings are a great bunch of guys.  Matt P, Mark M, Tom O, Rodney C, and Mark T all show up multiple mornings a week for runs: Tempo, track, trail, you name it.  Rain, snow, heat, humidity....whatever the weather they were there.  And almost all of them were running Boston this past spring.  As their workouts became more intense, so did mine.  As they started to get excited about Boston, so did I.  It couldn't be helped.  The mojo that was Boston was infecting me in ways that it never had before.  My running was getting better as these guys really pushed me to the edge of my running envelope.  My run splits in my first two triathlons were quicker than I'd ever imagined.  I was liking this new speed and endurance that I'd picked up - it pays to run with people who are faster than you.  And when I say faster, I do mean faster.  A couple of these fine gents run a sub 2:45 marathon and are blazing fast at 10K and 1/2 marathon distances. 

It wasn't long after the Boston marathon this year that I was listening to the post-race chatter during one of our usual morning runs.  Tales of all the standard Boston Marathon stuff:  The bus ride to the start....the fans from Wellesley College....Heartbreak Hill.  The talk, again, was infectious. 

I got the bug back.  The itch was there.  I needed to run another marathon, and more importantly I needed to qualify for Boston. 

I immediately changed my race schedule - I had to find a fall marathon to run.  I needed one that was somewhat close by and easy to get to (I didn't want to travel across the country if I could help it).  I also wanted to find a marathon with a course that wasn't going to be crushingly difficult (so obviously Big Sur and Mont Blanc were out of the question).  I had heard about the Steamtown Marathon.  Rumor is it's a great Boston qualifier.  So, a few clicks of the mouse later, and I was registered.

I removed a September triathlon or two from my calendar and replaced them with a lot of running workouts.  I can't say that I'm completely thrilled about reducing my season by a triathlon or two.  It's been difficult checking my ego at the door - it's easy to tell myself that I can do a half Ironman 3 weeks before a marathon.  I know people who have done just that and run very well.  But I'm trying to be smart about this and ensure that I have as good a marathon as possible.

I know I have the speed to qualify for Boston.  I'm confident of that.   3 years ago maybe not, but after the last two years of hard work I know the speed is there.   But marathons are an odd beast.  You can't fake the training for it, and it's certainly not like a 10K, or even a half marathon, where you can maybe muscle your way through the race if something isn't quite right.  But with a marathon, if something is off on race day, 26.2 miles is a long way to go if you're dealing with a cramp, an upset stomach, or whatever the issue may be.  The last thing I want to have to deal with is heavy legs after a rough day at the triathlon office a few weeks previous.

So, in a few weeks I'll be in full blown marathon training mode.  I'm gearing up for the Park City Mossman triathlon in mid-August.  After that it's all about running.  I can't quite commit to completely giving up the swimming and biking workouts.  I enjoy those two disciplines and will consider it cross training.  However, the primary focus will be running. 

I'm now looking for a late season triathlon, of course, to add to my race calendar.