In my last race, the Marine Corps Marathon in October, I ran a 3:18:36. I’d trained as hard as I ever had, ran the best race I could, but yet I still fell short. Additionally, I also realized that my 2012 backup plan, the forthcoming Chicago Marathon, would occur well after 2012 Boston Marathon registration dates, which are now in mid-September, so that was out the window as well. Fall marathons have been a key part of my Boston success, but not this year. Therefore, I had never gone into a Boston race knowing that there was no other buffer. (Could I have looked at another marathon between now and September? Of course, but without a ton of spare time, this was not looking like a completely viable option.)
In heading out to Hopkinton, I realized that Monday's race was pretty much “it”. However, Boston has always been a very tough race for me. In the 9 times I had run Boston prior to Monday, I’d only had four qualifying times and my three slowest marathons on record have been run in Boston (2003, 2004 and 2007). Therefore, I felt the odds were not in my favor.
I wondered to myself, do I still have it in me? Can I hit the 3:15:00 mark, so that I will have the chance to at least register for next year’s race?
In prepping for the race, one thing that was in my favor was the weather. Not too hot, not too cold; just enough sun. Good for runners, but also good for spectators. This dual factor is something I always take into account on race day, as I favor weather that not only is good for runners, but will encourage spectators to line up and cheer us all on. Fortunately, Monday was one of those days, and the crowds were out in full force, which is just so incredibly motivating.
While I was certainly a bit anxious, my body also felt good. I was able to keep a good pace throughout the race and fortunately did not experience any major cramping or discomfort. While I had certainly trained hard, you just don’t know how your body will react on race day due to the pure amount of stress that running a marathon puts on it. In my experience, some days things click, and other days they don't. Fortunately things “clicked.”
A key factor was that my mind remained clear. Instead of focusing on my body, I was really focused on all that was around me and thoughts of “why” I was running. I distinctly remember that around mile 17, just after the Power Gel area, I started thinking about my kids. I envisioned an image of me holding both of them in my arms, wearing my medal. I thought to myself, “this is why I’m here”, and that single thought just pushed me. In hindsight, the fact that this occurred just prior the Newton hills was true blessing, as I was able to tackle them with vigor.
As I crossed the bridge into Kenmore Square, the clock hit 3:00:00 and at this point, I knew I had made it. I was going to re-qualify. The only question to me at that point, was would I be able to shave enough time off so that I could register early? As I ran down Bolyston Street, and the finish line came into view, I soon saw it inching toward 3:09:00. At point, I realized that I had not only accomplished my goal of running a sub 3:15:00 race; I exceeded all my previous expectations. Due to a slightly delayed start, my official time was 3:06:59. I had just recorded my best time marathon time since running Boston in 2006!
Monday once again showed me how the marathon is more than just a race. Yes, I’m very happy and proud of my time. But more importantly, it made me believe in myself and my abilities. My doubt was replaced with confidence. Questions were replaced with answers. Monday’s race was a true test of my will and I won!
See you in 2012.
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 15-time Boston qualifier who's completed 11 consecutive Boston Marathons and 23 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 12th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
- Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes