Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

Boston Marathon Weekend

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Marathon Monday in Boston…..there’s nothing quite like it. I think this year takes the “nothing quite like it” cake of all “nothings quite like it”.

But first, rewind.

Marathon weekend started on Friday night with a special Saucony “Find Your Strong” event. The night was billed as a night of inspiration. Given my life lately, I figured I could use some inspiration, and since the event was no more than a solidly hit 5-iron away, I kinda had to go!

The evening was fantastic. There was a very moving tribute to Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco. Micha was to be a speaker at the event, but tragically passed away not weeks before. Micha’s friends and family were on hand to share memories of the famed ultrarunner and brought the message of his Foundation, to help continue the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon and more importantly, the run culture of the Tarahumara.

Next up was former BC football player turned NY Giant, Mark Herzlich. I was so taken with Mark, his story and his attitude. Kinda kicked me in the butt and made me realize that while bad things happen, we’re each given a choice, each and every day as to how we handle those bad things. You can let them break you, or you can let them be a tool to help you to rise above and become better for it. So impressed with Mark (and a little smitten too….so cute…even if he is NY Giant.)

Of course, then was my personal favorite; the one and only Karen Smyers. Even though I am familiar with Karen’s story of perseverance, and overcoming obstacles, I never tire of listening to her speak. Her jokes, while always a little self-depreciating still carry an uplifting and optimistic message. We heckled only a little, and applauded even louder.

Finally, Bill Rodgers spoke. I’m not sure what Bill’s message was, to be honest. But when you are as legendary as Bill Rodgers, I am not sure your message has to be clear.

We were not long for that night as I had to get my DaveyG home and get his feet up. He, after all, had a race to run and I’ve never shied away from some extra sleep when I can get it, so we left nearly as soon as the speakers were done and were home to bed.

Saturday and Sunday, I left Dave home with the TV remote control in one hand and a bevy of beverages in the other and went off to tackle Mt. Wachusett on back to back days.   Wachusett is hardly Mt. Everest, but it is a nice little ride where, with the right company, you can inflict more than a little bit of hurt in a 4 hour ride if you dare! While slightly more cranky setting out on Sunday for my second assault on Mt. Wachusett, my legs snapped to right nicely….though my (egghm) saddle area was a bit cranky by the end of day 2.

Monday morning came and brought with it a small heat wave in Boston. I reminded DaveyG that I’d done Ironmans in 10 to 15 degrees hotter and that he needed to not make such a big deal of the heat (while secretly hoping he didn’t suffer heat stroke and die).

Marathon runners this year were offered an historic “out” if they so desired. Because of the unseasonably warm weather, runners were given the chance to defer for a year and while they’d have to pay their fees again (cha-ching), they were welcome to sit it out and save their entry for next year.

There was no talk of that in our house. My DaveyG was highly trained and was very well prepared. What is more, he knows how to run smart. While less conditioned athletes might have considered the out, I think most runners who had put in the time and the work knew that the race was on, knew that times may suffer and paces may be adjusted but that the race would go on.

So at 6:40, I dropped Dave at his bus, gave him the crystal clear advice to “be smart, but don’t be stupid”. Incredibly, he knew exactly what I was saying. Be smart (don’t be stupid and run out at 6:00 pace), but don’t be stupid (don’t run 10:00 pace if your HR is OK and you feel good and you are hydrated well). ….take care of your nutrition and hydration, and use all the tools at your disposal (pace, heart rate, and perceived exertion) to run your race.

Standing at mile 17 of the course, carnage. And not just amongst the less experienced runners. The elite ranks were shattered. Not the leaders, mind you, but the chase packs were “packs” of 2s and 3s. And there were some elites shuffling back with the runners with 2,XXX and 3,XXX. It was hard to watch.

My DaveyG came thru a little off pace, but still coherent.

My coached athlete, Frank W. was off pace as well, but managed a half a smile.

In the end, Frank was about 15 minutes off what I thought he could do. DaveyG…about the same. But some days, it’s just not about the time. I think all the athletes who raced yesterday will remember that finish above all others; not for the time they posted (in a good way) and not the time they posted (in a bad way), but will and should remember the courage and the fight that it took to get them there.

In the end, isn’t that really what matters?

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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