I have been running with renewed joy since discovering Skora shoes halfway through 2013 and becoming an ambassador. I’ve been a minimalist and barefoot runner for several years, but bounced from shoe to shoe – always knowing what I wanted but never quite finding that ideal realization of a shoe that allows my body to run efficiently and naturally as it was designed. My first four marathons were run in 3 different shoes. My last two have been in Skoras, and my only choice will be which Skora model to run Boston in. I ran my two fall marathons in the Base and Phase, and loved both. But, I hadn’t yet tried the Form, which effortlessly carried me through my trail Ultra pacing experience. Despite obliterating my previous annual mileage high of just over 900 miles by running almost 1400 miles this past year, I have been injury-free.
While I was on vacation a few days ago, I received my first e-newsletter from the BAA. I had already started training, but somehow that email put the spurs to me. It also coalesced a thought that has been taking form in my head ever since I found out that I’d be running Boston.
I am just an amateur runner. Very few people will take notice when I cross the line. However, I feel a unique responsibility to this great race. I want to give it my best. Yes, I will be both a participant and a spectator. I will marvel at what promises to be the greatest celebration of running I have ever taken part in.
I will not chase the elites – a group of professional runners whose combination of genetic gifts and will to succeed make them the best in the world. They will be running at a pace for just over two hours that most of us cannot keep up for more than a few minutes.
I will chase the clock. I will chase my personal goal to be my best. My goal setting has always been unconventional. Recently I realized that the modern Greek philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis has expressed my method: “Reach for what you cannot.” I always seem to set my goals just a bit further out than I can achieve. However, by reaching for what I cannot, I achieve what I otherwise would not. If I had conceived that qualifying for Boston was a bridge too far, it would have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, I set my goal at a BQ – 5:00. I haven’t achieved that goal yet, but I have BQ’d twice.
My new goal is an ambitious one: to run a sub-3:00 marathon. I believe that I can achieve it with the right physical and mental training. I’ve set my training program up with that goal pace in mind: 6:51. It is a furious pace.
The point at which “the wall” (or the central governor, if you prefer) kicks in and seduces you to slow down comes at a cruel place in the marathon – but that’s why your mind is doing it – it senses the end. You are close to the finish – 6 miles or less. In the six marathons I have run, this has always come at a point in the race when no one else is looking. No competitors are near me – we are strung out along the race course. The crowds are thin or nonexistent. This will not be the case in April. Although the physical challenges of the Newton Hills begin at mile 17.5, followed by Heartbreak Hill at mile 20.5, I intend to draw on the power of the cheering crowds and my fellow runners. The crowds won’t be cheering for me in particular, but they will be cheering for me and the men and women running with me.
If I don’t achieve a sub-3:00 in Boston, I will have already signed up for the Chicago marathon in October. Flat. Fast. Cool. No excuses. I have also heard the siren song of the Ozark Trail Ultramarathon in November – 35 miles of pacing last year have me believing I can do it.
I’m reaching for what I cannot.