It was my wife’s turn to run Boston last year.  Her training went pretty well but…

She traveled to Costa Rica the week before, drank the water… lost a lot of weight… do I have to spell it out?

And race day was a hot one.

I think you can guess how things went.

She stormed into the house after her run (as much as anyone can ‘storm’ anywhere after 26.2).

‘I’m never running another marathon.’

She went into the bedroom and closed the door.  She emerged a half hour later.

‘I’m signing up for Vermont (city marathon).’

The race was in a month.

Me: ‘You’re crazy.’

Ahhh… that feeling.  Compete long enough and you know it.  You miss your goal and you want instant redemption, or as Patrick Swayze told Keanu Reeves just before his escape in Point Break:

‘I know you want me so bad it’s like acid in your mouth’

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I have watched almost every movie in imdb’s top 250, I’ve seen every movie in AFI’s 100 years 100 movies and ‘Point Break’ is still in my top 25-50 movies ever.  Not just action movies.  Not just movies that are always on cable.  All movies.  This is an overlooked classic.  Did you know Gary Busey was nominated for his performance as Detective Pappas?  Look it up.

Get a random roomful of guys together and let them flip channels.  This is what’s happening:

Guy with clicker flips channels comes to Point Break and stops.  He looks around.

Guy with Clicker: Anybody else want the remote?

Everyone else: Nah, this is cool.

Put rivals together in a tense negotiation, turn on Point Break, and watch them bond.  Do female’s have a movie like this?  Sex and the city?

Wait… what am I thinking?  You can’t get a room full of women to agree to anything?  It’s science.


Heading into Boston this year my goal time was sub 2:40.  I wanted it bad…  ‘like acid in my mouth.’

Actual time: 3:19

Well shit…

I vented out the obligatory ‘Marathon’s are stupid’ to my wife then went into the bedroom and closed the door.  I emerged a half hour later.

‘The Maine Coastal Marathon.  Two weeks from now. redemption.’

Her: ‘You’re crazy.’


I wanted that 2:40 so bad it tasted like acid in my mouth and now I’m back to the drawing board.

Yeah Boston was hot this year, yeah I was trying to to run 20 minutes faster than my qualifying time.  Blah Blah blah.

I shouldn’t have bonked like that.  It turns out I was on my way to a semi serious hamstring, sciatic nerve injury.

That and a dollar doesn’t even get me a small coffee at Dunkin Donuts.

When I was 27 I jumped into the Martha’s vineyard 20 miler with good general fitness but not much intense running.  Pushed it, all out from the start and absolutely cratered at mile 18.  This remains the single worst bonk in my life.

I ran 1:58.

Then came back a year later with more miles under my belt, better speed, better fitness, went out conservative, ran smarter all around and came home in 2:02.

This year on a different course I ran 2:02 (minus my bathroom break that’s 2:01).  I still have the wheels to get this done.

I just need to figure out how to run that extra 6.2.

You’re never more than one or two decisions away from radically transforming your life.  Good or bad.  Somebody famous said that once.  Tony Robbins maybe.  Anyone???

I’m assuming it’s true.

I want this 2:40 or under.  I know I have the wheels, I know I have the dedication… but the Marathon is an elusive puzzle.  What are those two decisions?

More miles?  Less?  Better nutrition?  More yoga?  Less?  More speed work?  Over 26 miles the number of things that can go wrong is staggering.

While you’re never more than two decisions away from changing your LIFE you’re never more than 3,792 decisions away from running your goal marathon time.

Thankfully I’ve got some time to figure it out.  There’s two marathons in my back yard at the end of the summer.  One is 10 loops around the Charles river (flat and boring, no shade) and the other is 5 loops around Bare Cove in Hingham (shady but there’s 2 sneaky hills per lap).

If there is one thing I’ve learned from all this it’s that you can’t force the marathon.  She’s elusive.  Like Bodi’s 50 year storm.  You have to be patient, wait for your set, avoid Special Agent Johnny Utah…

But I’m Special Agent Utah in this one.  The Running Man gets his guy.

Or in this case, my time.

I’ve outlined my training decisions.   First I’m going to heal this pesky sciatic nerve thing.  Yoga and Z Health it is.  I’ll write a blog about the steps I take to fix it.

Then 1 speed work session a week.  1 and 2 mile repeats or tempo runs.  I want to do more but I’m looking back at my 20 miler vs Marathon performance and I’ve decided not to be a running cliche: an over trainer.

Two long runs on the weekend.  Whoa there Smart Kid.  What’s all this about not over training?

Why 2?  Two reasons:

  1. Because this is when I have the most reliable free time to get some miles in.
  2. I read that running two medium long runs on consecutive days trains your body to access your stored fat more efficiently than a single long run.  That seemed smart to me.

The plan is out there.  Now it’s time to execute.  A ll I need is some luck.  Perhaps a blessing.

What’s that Johnny Utah?

Thanks Man.

And away we go.

P.S. Gary Busey was not nominated for ‘Point Break’.  He should have been.  And I should have run 2:40 in Boston this year.

Life ain’t fair.

One thought on “Back to the drawing board…

  1. Hi, Stephen!

    Your wife’s experience was unfortunate but yeah, some things are just out of our control. If it were, there is no need for us to work hard for anything.

    I think you guys have the right attitude. It’s OK to “grieve” for a while, but it is important not to stop there. Analyze what went wrong and take measures to try to correct it. We give our all and hope for the best.

    Regardless of race results, you’re doing great!

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