This weekend exactly a year ago.
3 weeks until Boston.
I had a 22 miler as my last long run, and I was feeling burnt out on my routes. I simply could not stand to have to think about where I was going. I needed to run, and zone out, and not have to make any decisions. I chose a straightforward out and back on the Burke-Gilman trail, and I set out early to avoid the crowds and cyclists and general weekend chaos. It was a beautiful and mild day: perfectly chilly, perfectly sunny, noticeably windy, but nothing was stopping anyone who runs in Seattle from getting out on a day so perfect and rain-free in March.
I came to a stop at one of the trail crossings, and a tall older man was stopped. He asked what I was training for and I told him Boston. He smiled slowly, bent forward a little, and showed me his hat. Boston 2010. He continued to run with me for the next 8 miles and told me everything I needed to know but couldn’t read about “the race of my life”. He had decided not to go back in 2011, but had been there every year for quite some time and was very worried about qualifying again. Splitting his time between Seattle and Arizona (Phoenix?) he was even spending more time down South to get more consistent and quality training in to make it for 2012.
That run and that day gp down as one of the most memorable and perfect runs that I can remember. I was running in the low 8 minute/mile pace, and it was effortless for the whole 22 miles. It was easier than walking. It felt like I was flying, like my feet weren’t touching the ground. I remember finishing the run and wondering what I had done differently to feel so incredible. I chalked it up to finally reaping the benefits or hard work. The onset of PF hadn’t become more than soreness (the next day it would), my neuroma hadn’t gotten too irritated (two days later it would), and my stress reactions would wait until post-Boston to really trouble me.
Looking back, I peaked too early for Boston. On this exact day a year ago, with 3 weeks to go until race day. Even without injury, I wouldn’t have done my best because I pushed myself too hard too early. I truly don’t believe in ‘if’s’, but if I did and Boston were that day I would have killed it.
I really hope my running friend is headed back this year. I hope he made it.