On Boston

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It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog post — the post where I “announce” that I won’t be running the Boston Marathon this year.

There, I said it. And honestly, it actually wasn’t that hard to say. But the thought process, and events, that have brought me to this conclusion, have been anything but easy.

In 2016, I ran the New Jersey Marathon just 11 days after crossing the finish line for the Boston Marathon in attempts to make the time goal I failed to reach less than two weeks earlier. It was more than a race, though. It was a redemption run in a frantic attempt to validate myself after getting my heart broken (again). It was an opportunity to take back everything I felt I had lost — parts of myself, lots of my time, fragments of my independence — while in a relationship.

In the days leading up to the 2016 New Jersey Marathon in Long Branch, I can’t remember ever wanting something more than a BQ (Boston Qualifying Time). Due to a poor training regime and hot weather conditions, I missed the BQ time mark in the actual race from Hopkinton to Boston, so needed to run at least 15 minutes faster in New Jersey to guarantee a spot in the iconic race in 2017. After qualifying for, and running, the historic race three years in a row, I couldn’t imagine missing it in the year ahead.

Perhaps it wasn’t the healthiest way to deal with a break up, but it gave me something to zero in on and focus on. It was a good distraction.

If you read about my 2016 New Jersey marathon experience, you already know that I made my time goal. You also know that it didn’t fix any of my problems or make me feel better about myself. Instead, it enlightened me to the fact that running fast or slow isn’t what makes others value me — a seemingly obvious realization, but one that took me a little bit longer (and a bus ride to New Jersey to run a marathon alone in the freezing rain) to grasp.

Up until last weekend, my desire to run and finish the 2017 Boston Marathon, regardless of pace or time, was about as strong as my desire to get a BQ in the 2016 New Jersey Marathon. (Kind of all-encompassing, kind of insane, but strong AF). Despite pleas from concerned friends and family members not to run, I had the overwhelming desire to do it anyway.

There’s probably a lot of reasons for this, the main one being that the more someone tells me I can’t or shouldn’t do something, the more I want to do it. Additionally, after training like a madman for an Ironman that was less-than-fulfilling in October, then suffering from a stress fracture in December (which sidelined me from running or any cardio at all for over two months), the lack of a looming athletic challenge has left me feeling unfulfilled, and a little empty on the inside. I wanted so badly to be able to run Boston to feel that feeling of accomplishment that can only come from running a marathon, even if I had to walk or limp through certain sections of the course.

Yet after a bit more evaluation — and, quite honestly, the feeling in my right foot after running less than half of the 26.2-mile distance last weekend — I know that taking the bus from Boston Common to Hopkinton on Monday would be a mistake.

Not only would it literally run the risk of putting me back on crutches, but if things don’t go well (and they won’t, because I haven’t run more than 11 consecutive miles since November), it would sabotage my relationship with marathon distance, and the city where I first fell in love with running.

Additionally, as a run coach, I continually tell my runners to rest when they feel off or injured, and that a rest day (or week!) here or there is infinitely better than a long term forced rest due to injury. I can’t very well continue to lead as an example if I don’t practice what I preach.

So, there’s my “announcement” — one that as a recreational runner is both completely unnecessary, yet entirely therapeutic to make. I’d rather sit this race out, than attempt to run it as a metaphorical comeback from a shitty emotionally draining 2016.

I have other exciting things, and quite honestly, things I’d rather not be injured for — like a half marathon relay with one of my best friends, a team-based Tough Mudder, and (hopefully) the Chicago Marathon in October — to look forward to in 2017. 

Plus, walking without a boot is pretty exciting, too.

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