I think I've hit the sweet spot of marathon training — I'm feeling relatively good, the workouts are hard but not horrendously difficult, and the race is close enough yet far enough away that I can just focus on getting out there and doing what I have to do, without being stressed that there's soooooo many — or soooooo few — weeks left 'til race day.
So my mood is significantly more stable than it was just a week ago, which is a really good thing. And because I'm not feeling down (or schizophrenic), I can allow myself to get completely and crazily excited for April 15 — and I am fully embracing that.
When I initially qualified, back in Hartford two years ago, it was shortly after the insane 8-hour sellout, and since I had qualified by a pretty slim margin (just under 2 minutes), I told myself that just knowing I had qualified was enough, and if I wasn't able to get a spot, I'd be ok with it.
And besides, I had managed to qualify for Gansett, which was, in my eyes, an even more significant accomplishment, so I rode that wave of euphoria for quite a while, and running that race was an experience I'll never forget.
But then when Boston 2013 registration opened, I completely succumbed to the Boston-mania, checking the BAA Facebook page and various message boards to try to get a sense of what they were predicting in terms of how quickly the race would fill up. And I was on pins and needles for a week after sending in my registration, waiting to see whether or not I was officially in.
And now that I'm in, and I'm training, and I'm just 12 weeks away from standing on the starting line in Hopkinton, I visit the BAA website at least once a week, and I get chills every time I look at the starting-line photos. I am beyond excited. I am ecstatic to have the chance to run this race, and I love nothing more than talking about it with people who have been there, done that. By the time I actually get there in April, I'll know every twist and turn and up and down of that course, thanks to the advice and anectdotes of my fellow runners.
This is all amplified, of course, by the fact that not only am I planning to run Boston, but I am planning to kick some serious butt in Boston — aiming for an 11-minute PR and an 8-minute pace, for a 3:30 finish. Along with chills, I also already — three months out — get nervous butterflies when I think about race day.
It's all part of the fun, though. After running 70 races, I've learned to embrace the nervousness. As unsettling as it can be, it's also such a rush of adrenaline, and I've gotten pretty good at turning that nervous feeling into determination and resolve, and an intense focus on putting in a 110 percent effort.
I don't have huge goals for my next race — the Super 5K on Super Bowl Sunday next month — but I'm also not going to just go out and run it for fun. I'll be running as part of a team (with the women I reuglarly run with from the running club), and I want to be a valuable team member — there are some nice prizes.
But I also always like to see what marathon training equates to when it comes to running shorter distances. The Run Less, Run Faster plan includes some great weekly speedwork, and even though it's tailored to marathon training, I know it should afford me some extra speed at the 5K distance.
So I'll be nervous and anxious like I always am at the start of a race, but this is such a fun event, too. The size is just right — not too crowded, but a large enough turnout to make it a fun, energized, festive atmosphere.
And the organization, thanks to it being organized by a running club, is top-notch. The course is nice — starting and finishing along the ocean — and mostly flat, and registration/number pickup always go smoothly. As if that weren't enough, there's a fabulous post-race pasta buffet — perfect on a chilly winter afternoon.
Last but not least, even if I'm not able to run in a given year, I'll always send in a registration for this one, because the proceeds from the race benefit the amazing Youth Track Series that has become one of our favorite parts of the summer season.
If you haven't registered yet, you should! Or donate, or sponsor, or just come down and cheer on the runners. I'll be there, hopefully crossing the finish line in just under 21 minutes!