It is no secret if you’ve read my blog that I have a hard time after a big race. Getting back at it is difficult.
I train alone, I do things by myself and that part of running is what I like. When a race comes up, and I like races but, it’s a totally different settings and that throws me off guard even though I know exactly what’s coming my way. So for this post I’ll go through The Good the Bad and the Ugly about my experience at the Boston Marathon.
Start first with the bad.
One of the obvious thing that happens during a marathon is you’ll experience pain in the way or another. Joints will hurt, knees will hurt, muscles with hurt, heck even my pride will hurt. While I was running I had to walk a bit, sooo running was not exactly what I was doing, but a guy ran by me and he gave me some encouragement. Everyone says to each other “come on, you can do it” or something like that. I told him it hurts and the guy just answered “Of course t does, it’s a marathon”. I’m not sure I like that. I don’t mean his answer obviously, but the pain itself. It is expected but nonetheless, it seems like I’m hoping it will not be there.
Last Boston was my fourth marathon and I think it’s the second one where I’m running without having my headphones and music blasting in my ears all along. I think I understand now why I was doing it this way for the previous ones. You see, I’m one of those usually last group, last waves of runners that are launched into the course itself and it’s crazy because when it comes to the crowd, people are nuts. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of having a crowd cheering for over five hours in my case and the amount of screaming are out of this world. Add to this the alcohol factor and it just breaks my mind. While I am writing this, it almost feel like I’m an ungrateful bastard but I just have a hard time being in the spotlight and it felt like a zoo and the crowd was around and screaming it just drove me nuts. Seriously, it was really grinding my gears. And one of my reflection while I was running was that I’m a gorilla in a zoo and I’m there by choice. Heck, I even paid to be in that zoo and be screamed at. WHY?.
Another bad part of my race is being away from family. Those who know me personally understand that I’m happy when I’m home. I like traveling a bit but not too much and this time I was in Boston by myself alone. Even the night before, I was at the hotel restaurant having my last big meal before and I started wondering why am I here why am I away from home. for a race? I felt out of place and even though this trip only lasted for three nights it felt too long for me. I think one of the best trip I ever had was an organized visit of New York where the schedule was super busy, no time off, for almost the whole trip. So I didn’t have any time to process how I felt, wondering if I should be home so that was a good one. But if I’m by myself, in another town, waiting for something to happen, it feels like forever. So, the night before the race, I was feeling lonely, out of place and I couldn’t wait to be done with the race and come back home.
In my notes, I categorized the training time as bad, but I’m not that sure. I would say that this one is still in the “still to figure out” category. Training for a marathon takes a lot of time, there’s many hours outside running and you come back you take a shower, you prepare your stuff before, you clean your stuff after. It seems like, for a 30 minute run, you must to add another 30 minutes so stuff around it gets done and all this adds up. Now that I look at it, it isn’t going to same point as being away from home because obviously you’re somewhere else doing something else even though it’s in the same town even though it’s just outside your door, you’re still not home. Kind of an ugly one.
For Boston, I had a time goal because it was my second attempt at the race. That was a big mistake. My first time on the Boston course was a smashing success. It was beyond expectation, I was ecstatic after so I was expecting the same thing to happen this year. And it didn’t go my way at all. So I guess dealing with the failure in the disappointment that comes with it is pretty difficult and if I’m not looking at my previous Boston Marathon which results are skewed for some reason, my time on a Marathon course is fairly always the same and I always end up walking at least a quarter of it. And I don’t think that’s for a lack of training because I do put in the hours. I did try a lot for this one and I was hoping way better than I did. Before the race, I told people that, if I completed the course I’m happy, that I had a time goal but completing was first and foremost what would define it success. Obviously, I lied to my friends and to myself. It was in all good faith but still, I don’t like that.
Enough with the bad let’s go with some good stuff.
The pride. Just to be able to mention to people that you did the Boston Marathon not just any 26 miles race, the Boston Marathon. When you come to the TSA agent coming back home, you just cannot not show them your metal and show them, prove them that you run the course. And for a few days at the office you cannot leave your medal at home; you bring it to the office and you wear it. It does feel very good. I had to explain to a few that it didn’t go exactly my way I had blisters and hot weather, was difficult, a bit more than I was expecting and time was not that good but made it through. All this good part is that it is so good for the ego. Although I was very tired once I got back home because I had to drive 6 hours to come back alone, I was happy to show and express how hard I had to work and how much I did deserve the medal.
Another good thing is the credibility. When you mention that you ran some marathon people look at you with another another expression in their eyes. And when you talk about running, about training, about the pain that comes with it, and everything the good stuff as well, people know that those are not just words, that you walk the talk, you did it before talking about it.
One of the most important good part about running marathon is health. All the hours that are spent at the gym on the treadmill, cross-training doing squats, lunges, crunches, planking, it does have an impact on your physical health and also your mental health. It obviously allows you to eat almost anything you want because you’re spending so much calories that it doesn’t matter much. So bring that burger and those fries, I’ll take them.
So now I’ll go with the ugly. The ugly for me is thinking about the future. As most runners know, after a big race you always say “Never again, well until next time” and I wonder if there will be a next time. I am still attached to my objective of running a marathon each year until I’m 50 so that would be least seven or eight more Marathon. In the meantime, since my 2017 one is done, next one will probably in Fall of 2018. I need to figure out what I’ll do as racing. Will I go with 10km or half marathon; not sure yet. I need to figure this out and I also need to find a way to evaluate how a race was successful to me. That finish time is a single metric, maybe unreliable and just finishing won’t be enough so I need to think this through. Another thing I want to do well now that I’m in between big races is a bleep test. We used to do those in high school. I think, from what I’ve read online, that depending on how far you can go it gives you an evaluation of your health of your VO2 max. aOf course it is not accurate but the it seems to be close enough for me. And instead of paying for a real evaluation of my physical health I’ll do one myself. I’ll probably take some paint and measure the distance, I think it’s 200 meter or something like that, and with a phone app I’ll do the bleep test and see where it goes.
How can I properly evaluate how a race went, my performance, my health, do I want to build up endurance a bit more, strength a bit more, Gym training with strength training, do I want to try to get it beachbody; it kind of feels like a crossroad and not sure yet where it will lead me. Chances are very slim that it might be a shallow objective as I don’t look at myself in the mirror that much. I don’t evaluate my chest or my abs, it doesn’t matter much to me. I don’t want a belly because I don’t want to feel fat but fairly in shape is good enough for now.