It happens every year, it’s becoming a tradition and it wouldn’t be the same without it for runners that are training for the Boston Marathon in Boston. I am talking about the final “dress rehearsal” for the Marathon, the most important run of the training season, the last long run – 21 miles from the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton to the top of Heartbreak Hill.
What I love about this day is the energy, the camaraderie with like minded people, and the support along the course, included the police presence and the traffic cones on high traffic roads. It really feels like a race, I get super excited and I usually perform really good.
Last Saturday, was the day. Hundreds, of mostly charity runners filled the Boston Marathon course and charities set up water tables along the route to support their runners. I wanted to make the support accessible to everyone who was running, because I know how helpful it can be when you are struggling. So, I had a vision of a killer, super FUN cheer station with water, gatorade, motivational signs, DJ with pumping music and mostly wonderful cheerleaders. Where? Well, I live right at Mile 10, right before the Natick center, which is exactly half way point to the end of the run. That was perfect!
Saturday I was also doing my long run so I took my vision to my partner in crime Fabiana and, my lululemon in Natick family put together the MOST incredible cheering station on the course that day! Thank you ladies, you are my HERO!!
After this last long run, which is the last 3 weeks before the marathon, is time to taper. Tapering means that you begin slowly reducing your weekly mileage, allowing your body to recover from months of heavy training. The taper is key as it will allow you to go into your race rested, strong and ready. It’s common to hear a runner saying he is in “Taperland”. I like to say : ” I landed in Taperland!”. So, I asked Carly, the most talented artist I know, to make a sign that said: “10 Miles to Taperland”. Get it? At mile 10 runners would have 10 more miles to go before landing in Taperland.
That sign was a huge hit! Runners were getting emotional, taking photos with the sign, and they were so grateful for the amazing support those kids were giving to them strangers. It’s just blows my mind the big impact of a small thing like that makes. In small acts of kindness, you see the incredible power of small things.
As far as my long run, I really had a great time and besides my legs that were pretty sore I was feeling great. My super supportive husband and our pup Luna dropped me off in Hopkinton around 8:30 am and picked me up at the bottom of Hearthbreak Hill at mile 21.21.
I stopped for about 5 minutes to cheer on runners at mile 10.
I was also happily surprised and run into the greatest coach anyone could ask for, Rick Muhr.
Even though he is not officially my coach I’ve always had him in my heart throughout this training season and I realized how much I’ve missed him when on Saturday he yelled out my name out of his moving car. What an incredible human being and coach he is. Let me step back for a second. I personally had a very hard winter and I had a really hard time following Rick’s training at its best. I am really hard on myself, always, and in this case I would beat myself up really hard if I didn’t accomplish what was scheduled for me in the training to do. And even more in this case I would feel like a failure to let someone that believes in me down.
I love running, it’s my passion, it’s my outlet, it’s where I find peace and solitude. There’s just something about my feet pounding against the ground and feeling my adrenaline rush through my veins that makes me feel like I can conquer the world. Therefore, this winter I wasn’t in the right state of mind to take running to a more competitive level and have the daily pressure of fulfilling Rick’s training expectations. For that reason, Rick and I came to the conclusion that it was best for me to pause from following Rick’s training, and just enjoy the process of running. So, I trained for Boston on my own, as I did in the two previous ones, without doing speed-work and on April 15th I will get to the starting line with the intention of having fun, enjoying the journey and of course – I am a fighter – to give nothing but the best I can!