Submitted By: Derek Hurdle
Last March at Shamrock I reached a goal of mine(just barely) to qualify for Boston. That day I decided not to fret over my time in Boston time and just enjoy the race. That was a sentiment I have carried with me over the last 13 months, including the last 16 weeks of training(despite not missing a workout during the training plan and getting up at 5am). That sentiment changed a little the week before the race mostly because John talked some sense into me-why train hard not to go run your best race. The other side of me did want to enjoy this race more than the others-and that was the internal battle I had when I approached the starting line. For the first time ever as I approached the starting line I had no set goal-which surprisingly felt kinda good.
John did have a goal and I didn't want to hold him back, and I didn't want to worry about the stress and push of a 3:05 goal-so we said our goodbyes as the race started. As I started I remember thinking that I would like to run a 1:35:00 first half-that way I would at least be on pace for 3:10:00 if I had enough in the tank second half to push it. That would be nice I thought if I could re qualify at Boston-so maybe that will happen. I also made myself a promise to smile more, look around and take it in. And when I started to hurt I would tell myself to quit whining I am running the freaking Boston marathon.
The first half went well at 13.1 I was at 1:34:20 so I was ahead of my goal. My next goal was to run to mile 16 at BQ pace which I did. At mile 16 the Newton Hills started-my goal for 16-21 was just to exert consistent effort. I did not want to worry about splits just equal effort-which I did. So how were the hills? Were they as bad as I thought? Well of course nothing is ever as great or bad as you make vision. Its always sensationalized! BUT those hills were bad, nothing we could duplicate in our part of the state and the timing that they come at mile 16-21 is enough to bring a man to his knees. And at one point on the second hill(the worst one in my opinion)I thought it would be easy to stop and just walk up the rest of the hill to "conserve energy". Then I thought about what I told myself at the beginning about enjoying the whole race-so I kept pushing. As I was making my way through the hills, again not worried about my splits, I was thinking about my next goal 21-26.2. After these hills I would check my time and see if I could push it qualify for Boston again.
When I finished heartbreak, it was like I had already accomplished my race. The famed Newton Hills are behind me now, the last 5 would be cake. I looked at my watch and I did the math and figured I needed to do between 7:10-7:15 for the last 5.2 miles. But the hills had taken a toll on me, my pace had slowed greatly and my calf started to tighten on me about 19-the muscle would tighten and almost cramp about twice a mile. I was scared to push it to hard-cramp in the calf and walk some of the way in. My #1 goal was to enjoy this race and walking/cramping was not the way I wanted to finish this marathon-because the first 21 miles had been so perfect.
The last 5.2 miles I continued to exert my same effort and I did look at my watch and the math was not in my favor-so I made an extra effort to take it all in. As I crossed the finish line I felt like I just went on a 3 hour 13 minute out of body experience. This is the way it should be-I thought to myself as I was wrapped in my "space sheet". I think I had a couple of minutes left in my tank that I didn't use up but I didn't care. I ran free, no worries and just soaked in this experience- its not always about your next mile split. That's what I learned in Boston and I think this lesson will help me enjoy future races more and maybe my life. Smile more, look around and take it all in.