Over the years I’ve been running, I’ve heard many proverbs, but one that has stuck with me goes something like this… “May your feet move swiftly and may the wind be always at your back.” I can’t remember who said it, or where I heard it, but as a marathon runner it’s a statement that has resonated with me through the years.
Well nowhere was this message more apparent to me than when I set out for a training run last Sunday morning. Currently, I’m training for the Chicago Marathon which is coming up on October 9, and as a result I’d reached a critical juncture in my training. Therefore despite the fact that a visit from Irene was looming, I was not about let her interrupt my training schedule.
In the days prior, I had checked the weather and it appeared as if Irene would not be visiting Boston until mid to late morning. Therefore, I made a conscious decision that I was going to get-up at 5 a.m. so that I could have my 19-mile training run wrapped up by a little after 8 a.m. Well, as luck would have it, for some reason my clock got set incorrectly (we just moved two days earlier and were still getting settled) and the alarm went off at 3:30 a.m., not 5 a.m. as planned. Somehow I did not realize this at the moment, and by the time I did, it was 4am. I was already wide awake, so I just decided I’d get an early start. Needless to say, it was actually a blessing in disguise.
As I set out on my run, yes it was early, but it was eerily quiet. The streets were completely empty and I don’t think I saw another person out and about until almost six miles into my run. During this time it was raining off and on, but nothing too severe. However, as I ran along the Charles towards the MIT boathouse, I could certainly start to feel the wind pick-up. While I was certainly wary of the situation, I maintained a very singular focus of making sure I was getting in my miles. Plus, the solitude associated with the situation made things very, very peaceful.
It was not until about 8 miles into my run that I finally saw another runner out on the Charles. Well, at least I was no longer alone. We both looked at each other as we crossed paths, seemingly acknowledging that we were both in the midst of a “unique” undertaking. While no words were spoken, it was clear that we both had a mutual passion that not even a hurricane was going to come between. As I then continued on for the next 11 miles I saw about two or three more brave souls and dodged more than a few flying branches. While the wind was definitely at my back, it was also at my side and in my face. But fortunately my feet moved swiftly and I got my miles in.
Yes, I was tired, but in my mind I had beaten Irene!
In hindsight, when I look back on this experience, it reminds of me of how much we all endure in the process of training for a marathon. It’s about dedication and commitment to a goal. It’s about maintaining focus on and not straying from your objective. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to training for, and ultimately running a marathon, you need to deal with the hand that Mother Nature provides. For me personally, I’ve trained in sub-zero temperatures, 90+ degree heat, rain, sleet, snow and even on ice, all to ensure that when it comes to race day, I’ve gotten my miles in and that I’m ready.
And while I thought I had virtually seen it all, I can now add one more item to this list of training conditions - a Hurricane!
- 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