I'm convinced the broiling heat and searing sunlight I endured for nearly 5 hours during last month's Boston Marathon short-circuited some of my circuitry. I mean, what else could have brought on my new attitude toward marathons?
Old way my mind worked: Train hard--including speed work, tempo runs, marathon pace embedded in long runs--so, come race day, body can try to hold hammer down the whole way. (Or break down trying.) Scenery and party atmosphere overlooked or ignored.
New way: Consider adding to the next training cycle one day per week of "choose the workout based on mood," whether it's a bike ride, 3rd morning of boot camp, hill repeats, or maybe even return to rowing. Do all requisite training with usual enthusiasm, but maybe not bust a hump several times/week. Choose next 26.2 based on wanting to take in the sights, sounds, and wonder of a city (actually two--Minneapolis and St. Paul) because I didn't get enough of on a recent weekend visit.
While I was running Boston, an idea flashed into my mind: "This should be my last marathon; end on a high note." For the rest of the week, as I drove 1,000+ miles from Connecticut to Georgia, I couldn't think of a single 26.2-mile race I wanted to run. A week later, Dimity and I touched down in the Twin Cities, and all that changed. As she and I drove toward the expo of the Get in Gear race, I wanted to hop out of the car and run for miles along the lovely River Parkway. The next evening, a friend and mother runner, JoAnn, drove me past jaw-droppingly gorgeous homes in St. Paul, telling me ever-so-casually, "You know this is part of the race course of the Twin Cities Marathon," and, "The Twin Cities Marathon goes right down Summit Avenue." Finally, the next morning, Dimity and I ran with some gals around Lake Harriet, and I was enchanted by the interconnected lakes, which--you guessed it--are part of the TC Marathon course.
I was left thinking: I want to come back here and do a long run here. And that's how I'm thinking about Twin Cities Marathon--a 26.2-mile tour of two lovely cities. I now have an overwhelming desire to do a marathon based on the setting and surroundings, not nailing some time on a clock. (Like I said, I think my competitive brain was fried in Boston!)
Add to this: I continue to glow over my 4:43 finish at Boston. It was my slowest marathon time by more than a half-hour, yet based on my effusive, deep pride, you'd think I'd qualified for the 2012 Olympic Team. While it was an oppressively hot day, on the playback of the experience on my mental flatscreen, it's the crowd support and enthusiasm that jumps out. The generosity of proferred bags of ice and the graciousness of spectators who scooped up cubes to put them in my outstretched hat. The joyously rowdy (and probably drunk) Wellesley, B.U., and B.C. students. The throngs of cheering people lining the straightaway to the finish line.
Whatever is at work here, I agree with my good friend Ellison who has seen me through the training of my last three marathons, who emailed me, "I love your attitude!"
Tell me how your approach to races has changed--or if it hasn't.