Ah the Boston Marathon. What can I say about the Boston Marathon? It is the world’s oldest annual marathon and an age-group runner’s dream to meet the qualifying standard. There is a saying in Boston, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it will change”. Sometimes it can be favorable, outright nasty, or bipolar. Who remembers the favorable tailwind of 2011, the inferno of 2012, or the headwind downpour of 2018? Although this blog post will be geared towards the age group recreational runner, Des Linden comes to my mind immediately because she ran the 2011 tailwind, 2018 downpour, and this year.
Let’s take a closer look at her performance in all three races. In 2011 with the assistance of a tailwind, Des came in second place, running 2:22:38. At the 2018 downpour she persevered the elements to come in first place with a time of 2:39:55. This year she finished in fifth place with a time of 2:27:00. What gives? Do you think she prepared more or less for each year? Likely not. Five minutes is a lot of time for a professional runner, by the way. The unpredictability of the elements in Boston can make that much difference. This year, Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia took first place female with 2:23:31, which is actually almost six minutes slower than her personal best at the 26.2 mile distance.
I also ran the 2011 tailwind and the 2012 inferno. I may still have PTSD after the 2012 Boston Marathon, which ended up being the second hottest Boston Marathon to date. I ran that race one hour and sixteen minutes SLOWER than my personal best in the marathon. Was that embarrassing or what? No, it wasn’t. I trained hard for the race. I followed the schedule my coach at the time gave me. I never missed a day and I did everything else right to support my training. It simply was what it was.
In yesterday’s Boston Marathon, I had three runners competing. None of them had their best race. As a matter of fact, all three of them had the cards stacked up against them from the start. None of their bodies were 100% going into it, but they got on that bus to the starting line in the dark, cold rain and eventually made their way to the finish line during the midday sun with hot and humid conditions. Hello bipolar weather and welcome to Boston!
As a coach, I have to sit back and do a critical appraisal of what I did or did not do for my runners. Did they run too much or too little? Did they train too fast or too slow? Why weren’t their bodies 100% if that is what we always want to strive for? A big part of my brand is the goal to reduce injury potential. The truth is, sometimes our bodies turn on us. Take me for example. I sustained stress fractures in both feet while training for my first marathon. Who was at fault, my coach? I don’t think so. It was multifactorial as many injuries and illnesses are, which is exactly what my runners were faced with from the start.
I am incredibly proud of my runners for their tenacity to cross that finish line regardless of what their finishing time would be. It takes a lot of courage and humility to put yourself out there to be “watched” by all your friends, family, and those that say they are cheering for you, but really may not. Remember, not all your followers are your fans. Speaking of humility by the way, do you know what makes a coach valuable? First, to have humility. Second, to have compassion and relatedness. I have been compliant with my training and fractured bones in my feet. I have been compliant with training and ran my personal best. I have been compliant with training and ran my personal worst. It is what it is yo! We are all human, which means we are not perfect. But the human spirit says, keep on keeping on because you never know when you will be at your very best. Never stop believing in your possibilities. Love to all my runners for believing in me, the same way I believe in all of them.
P.S. The picture is of me in the 2011 Boston Marathon medical tent. Mercy!