Boston bug chirps as I enter my last marathon training week

  • This was printed in August of 2013 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 13th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

That Boston bug is still chirping in my ear. I’ve been swatting it away with all of my

injuries, time off, and general self-doubt, but it’s still there.

I know I can’t qualify for the Boston Marathon at the Santa Rosa Marathon. There’s no

way I could finish 26.2 miles in three hours and 35 minutes.

But what if I can?

That’s the nagging question. Can I run that many miles at a consistent 8:12 per mile

pace? I can run 10 miles at that pace, for sure. I might even be able to run a half marathon

at that pace. But a full marathon? That’s asking too much. I think.

I won’t really know until I try. But I’m almost afraid to try to keep that pace, because I’m

worried I’ll start out too fast and end up hurting myself before the entire marathon is


But that’s why so few people qualify for the Boston Marathon. It’s hard!

I’m pretty sure I’ve read every word of the Santa Rosa Marathon web site. If there is one

thing I’m good at, it’s research. I’ve memorized the course map. I’ve read marathon-

running tips from a pro. I’ve read the details about the course and its scenery. I’ve even

read the bios of each of the full marathon pacers.

If I’m being ambitious, I’ll try to stick with the four-hour pacer, Molly Knox. She’s an

ultramarathoner with two kids. If I can’t hang, I’ll try to stay with the 4:15 pacer, Allegra


My coach wants me to set my sights on 3:30 pacer Craig Bronstein. My coach, unlike

me, still thinks I can qualify for Boston. If I do, he’s paying my Boston entry fee. As

much as I love a bargain (remember, I am a coupon queen!) I just don’t think I can get

my feet to move fast enough for that many miles.

We’ll see.

All I know is I don’t want to do this – train for a marathon – again for a very long time. I

feel like I’ve just been getting injured left and right. I want to go back to the days of

running 20 miles a week, not 20 miles in one day. Marathon training has been very

intense, and I’d like to just rest for a while.

I’m thinking about running the 18-mile roundtrip to Half Dome, just to say I’ve done it.

And, of course, for the view.

Then I think I’ll stick to staying in half marathon shape. It’s the perfect distance – long

enough to be a challenge, but not as intense or time consuming as a marathon.

But here I am already talking as if my marathon is over, when in fact it’s 10 days away.

Thankfully, the bulk of my training is over. Now my team and I are resting up, going on

six- to 13-mile jaunts just to keep our legs moving. The intense distance runs and speed

workouts are long gone. And now we wait.

We’re all getting anxious in anticipation of race day. For some of us it’s our first

marathon; for others, it’s one of dozens. But what I’ve learned from the veteran runners is

that you never lose that pre-race anticipation, just as children don’t ever get over their

first-day-of-school jitters. Every marathon, like every new school year, brings a sleepless

night and a tummy full of butterflies in the morning.

And for every marathoner, no matter what his or her pace is, can always hear that Boston

bug chirping, “What if? What if?”


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