Boston Marathon: My Plan


Tomorrow I will be running some of this route. I will not be running all of it. I will, likely, jump in (with my official bib that I paid for, but without the timing chip so nothing get’s messed up) and run some part with some friend near the middle or end. I feel like people may think or do think I’m doing something bad in doing that, but I don’t really see how it’s any different to run the first six miles or a random six miles. If I get up early and catch the bus to the start and then run the farthest I’ve run in a month (7 miles), then I’ll end up somewhere out in the suburbs having to wait for an injury shuttle back to the finish. It sounds much, much better to take the T out, cheer some people, run some distance without hurting myself MORE, then take the T back home.

So, hopefully, that works out.

Everyone keeps Instagramming and Twittering their Boston experiences. My experience so far has been: out late in Harvard Square drinking and eating cookie sandwiches with Melissa, sleep almost none, run 5 miles along the river (with every other person in Boston), spend a stupid amount of time figuring out the Hubway bike share, lunch with Courtenay, hang out with Ilyce, dinner with Vishal and Deanna, exhausted time for bed. I also spent maybe 10 minutes total at the expo to get my packet and number. I walked into the other half of the expo — the half where they sell shit and give away shit and talk about shit — and I just wasn’t in a place where I wanted to do that. I thought I was. I thought since I’m not running, it’ll actually be more fun to do all the random stuff you can’t really or shouldn’t really do before a race you actually care about. But, I just wanted nothing to do with any of it. And, my foot was hurting — my other foot, the one that hasn’t hurt in months.

So, tomorrow, I will cheer, I will run some, I will swim some, I will finish some work, and I will go to the after-party in the evening and lie outrageously about how fast I ran the whole marathon. Too fast for you to see me.

Boston, Blah, Blah

I leave for Boston on Saturday morning. I haven’t checked the weather. I haven’t looked at the race info. I haven’t written my obligatory facebook and blog posts about what it all means to me. I just am having a hard time getting excited. Partially, sure, it’s because I can’t (or, rather, shouldn’t) run the race. And, I was looking forward to actually getting to run the whole course this year and enjoy the atmosphere/excitement and hang out with every person on the planet who is doing it. I wanted to finish. Since I can’t do any of those things, I’ll basically just be a hanger-on, a fan, which is fun too — but not the same as actually being inside the locker room. Partially, though, I’m having a hard time whipping up a frenzy of emotion because everyone else is doing such a good job getting all whipped up on their own.

There are people who have very real connections to this race. There are people for whom it means a great deal or who genuinely struggled to deal with what happened last year. And, I’m not begrudging them their feelings. But, does it automatically mean a great deal to everyone or, if we’re honest, aren’t some people jumping on an emotional bandwagon that isn’t theirs to hijack?

I was reading some article about Jeff Bauman — probably in Runner’s World, though really there have been so many about him — and in it his fiance talked about how, with all the press tours and visits and interviews, he wasn’t keeping up with his physical therapy that he actually needed to get better from his injuries. She said that she definitely would not be running the marathon this year, maybe again some day, because they had gotten overextended and needed to focus on their own lives again. And, then, I read the story in our local paper about local runners going back to run Boston this year — of which I am sure there are lots of similar stories in lots of similar papers — and the article kept calling all of us who were there last year “survivors.” And, we’re not. I’m not. It wasn’t ours to survive. And, it’s not our right now to trot out the truly injured and make them our symbols of survival.

I have a hard time whenever a spectacle is made of what is, at a base level, very individual pain for the individual people who suffered. I hope those individuals are getting whatever they need — whether it is emotional support or money for medical bills or simply being left to rebuild. And, I know that if it was me whose life and loved ones had actually been affected by the bombs at the finish line, I wouldn’t want my suffering to stand for anything or mean anything larger to everyone. I would be a little pissed if people kept telling me we all run together, because we don’t. We run near each other and next to each other. We run shoulder-to-shoulder, but we run alone. We can only ever run on our own.

Boston Marathon 2014: Less Than Two Weeks Away

What are your transportation plans?
What are your transportation plans?

It’s time for #Boston2014 (#BostonStrong #WeAllRunBoston #RunTogether) and I’m repeating a tune that sounds very familiar. It’s unlikely I’ll run it or, if I did, I’d finish. But, I have a ticket and I’m planning on going, so who knows. A small part of me thinks I could just wing it, but the 5 miles I ran slowly yesterday would suggest otherwise. And the soreness in my foot today would suggest that even if I could, it’d be a bad idea. I’d likely re-tear whatever is finally healing along the arch.

The race organizers don’t know my personal issues, though, so they keep sending me emails asking me to tell them if I’m taking the shuttle, tell them if I’m attending the pre-race dinner, tell them my emergency contact, tell them what “my story” is. Man, Boston Marathon people, I really wish I had answers for you. I do.

It’s hard to stay focused on the long-term goal: Ironman Canada. I really wanted to run Boston this year and actually finish. I also want to sleep indefinitely right now. (I don’t feel good today.) Those are hard to reconcile.

Right now the plan is: I’m flying to Boston because I’m going from there to Chicago. I’ll hang out, see how I feel. I sort of want to jump in and run part of the course, just for the fun of it — if I’m able to run parts of things. Or, alternatively, I’ll drink a bunch and heckle runners.

I should probably just buy all the merch and make up stories about my finish time.


What would you do?

So, What’s My Plan Anyway?

When I was at training camp people kept quizzing me about how I coach myself. Isn’t it hard, weird, etc. And, I kept saying: “Well, I make an actual schedule and calendar. It’s not like I wake up each day and don’t know what I’m doing.” Haha, that would be crazy.


Since the foot injury on the very last run of the very last day of the very last camp, I’ve been sort of winging it. I was pretty sure at first that I had pulled or torn something in the arch of my foot, but everyone convinced me I really had plantar fasciitis. And, even though it didn’t have the tell-tale signs, I went with it because PF generally means that you can run through it if you can handle the pain. But, still, I’m not stupid, so I rested a week and tried to run briefly. Then, I took another five days or so off running and tried again. I managed to convince myself that if I could run some by the end of this week, then I could still get enough time on my feet in before Boston that my fitness would translate fine.

Well, yeah. It turns out my initial guess was right. I do have a torn muscle or fascia in the arch of my foot according to the fancy doctor. There’s not much to do about it besides let it rest, which means at least another 1-2 weeks of no running.

That means that right now this is pretty much my official training plan:

Rationally, I know that my fitness is good and won’t erode that quickly, that my biking and swimming will translate, that I can do some water running, and that I should take this time to build strength. Logically, I know that a month off running in March is better for an Ironman in July than limping along until then–even if it means that I may have to miss early season racing (or already have missed some). But, really, I’m freaking out. And, the fact that any given day I don’t know what exactly is on my training schedule doesn’t help, since I’m just waiting to see how the foot feels.

What if it doesn’t get better? What if my fitness disappears too much? What if I have to miss HITS and Boston and even Wildflower? What if this turns into one of those seasons where everything just keeps going wrong??

Boston Marathon 2014: I Signed Up


Well, this morning I signed up for the Boston Marathon 2014. No, I’m not entirely sure I love the race and there are lots of pros and cons, etc. But, it’s hard to feel like I did what I went to do last year and certainly it’s hard to feel like there isn’t unfinished business, like I don’t need to go back. Lots of unresolved issues.

I don’t necessarily even believe in the idea of closure. I’m actually pretty convinced it’s something “the media” made up at one of our media secret meetings where we all decide we’ve got it in for Sarah Palin. Still, every time I had some version of this conversation it just kept adding up, piling up, and pushing me back:

Someone: *super sad voice* Ohhhh, you were at Boston? Wow. How was that?
Me: *stare at them*
Someone: You must have been already finished when everything happened, right?
Me: Well, not exactly, I didn’t finish.
Someone: Oh wow, were you stopped on course?
Me: Um, no. I sort of dropped out before anything happened, unrelatedly.
Someone: *stare at me*

Because I am a failure. Because I couldn’t even finish the race, when I had every advantage to do so, when I could have just been a little tougher, while other people died or had their legs blown off or saved each other just to give me the chance to run it, to create the event and the opportunity. I failed them. And, I know that’s not exactly true, but it’s a little bit true. Who am I to have not finished.

Even the registration form for the race argued with me about the improbability of my experience. It asked: Is this your first Boston Marathon? No. How many Boston Marathons have you completed? 0. “You have entered an impossible value. Please go back and revise your answer to the question.”

Sigh. I am, evidently, an impossible value.

I could say that I signed up for next year because I don’t want “them” to win, but (today, Sept. 11, of all days) I don’t actually really believe that. I don’t think it’s a zero sum game and as long as we insist it is, then it will be. Then, there will always continue to be an us and a them. And, anyway, I don’t really know who “they” are or how “they” didn’t sort of win when we put a major city on lockdown to hunt down one 19-year-old. So, no, I’m not going back to Boston to prove that I’m not afraid and I’m definitely not going back because of a desire to participate in aggressive shows of patriotic fervor. I’m not going back because I can make things better for the people who are still struggling in the aftermath, my presence can’t do that for them (though donations maybe can help). I’m going back because I have a race to finish. I going back not because of the bombing, but in spite of it.

Boston non-finishers will get to race Boston Marathon 2014. I kept emailing BAA back and saying I didn’t count as a non-finisher, because my lack of finish had nothing to do with anything that happened — and I didn’t want a finish medal or time or special treatment. It looks they got it, since this only applies to those who reached the halfway but couldn’t finish.

Despite CNN saying otherwise (and what hasn’t CNN gotten wrong), interest in running Boston 2014 is actually at an all-time high. [Because I may need to take six months off or get surgery to fix my foot, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to qualify for Boston before September. And I want to go back next year and finish what I started. Then, I realized my Chicago time from October qualifies me (!), so that’s one problem solved.]