Marathon: Boston, “!” and “?”

By now, some of you who have been paying attention know that I am running the Boston Marathon this year. (Before you read on, click here to contribute to my fundraiser for Boston Children’s Hospital. Thank you~)

When I’ve told people, there are basically two responses: “!” and “?” Roughly translated these are “Congratulations!,” to which I politely remind them I haven’t run it yet, and “What made you want to run it?”

I can’t say there is a singular, catch-all reason that I chose to take on the challenge of Boston. Here’s my attempt at explaining, including the bottom line they all add up to.

Two of these gentlemen have won the Boston Marathon.
The other is about to run it. No word about the dog.
(Thanks to Cristina Negron for snapping this photo )


Contributing Factors

Eligibility – Of the most popular races in the USA, it’s really the only one I could get into, because I’m not a horse (Kentucky Derby), a CART (Indy 500), or an ass (Presidential Race).

The Big Birthday Training Plan My running has followed a very predictable training pattern. While it’s been a constant companion since I first started running in my teens (with the exception of my early 20s, which were spent chasing other pursuits), it only ratchets up once a decade. I ran my first marathon at 30 and my next one (NYC, again) at 40. At age 50, I flipped the script to focus on going faster, at the Fifth Avenue Mile. (You can read about my mulligan mile here). Now, it’s been 10 years since that race, and it felt like it was time to finally take another crack at the marathon. As slow as I’ll be now, I still think it will be better than waiting to see what’s possible if I get to 70.

Friends, Family, and The Famous Boston and New England have particular appeal to me, despite their insufferable sports fans and shady athletic “heroes.” My sister lives in Boston and my daughter works on Cape Cod. One of my running mentors, and one of the few honest and true New England sports heroes, Amby Burfoot (pictured above with me and the statue of John J. Kelley in Mystic, CT) happened to win the 1968 Boston Marathon. According to the campus tour our family once took there, Amby even attended class at Wesleyan University the next day.

I also have several great friends who live in the Boston area, including my University of Rochester grad school buddy Warren Kerper, who’s run more Boston Marathons than I’ve run errands. I finally got to see him and his training buddies from Lexington run in last fall’s race (pictured below, wobbly, the day after the race) and it was the tipping point to convince me that now was the time to do it. Bonus: I can hit him up for free food, lodging, and spurious training theories for the weekend.

Warren Kerper and the Espresso Shots Heard Round the World

The Great Endeavor – I wrote recently about the concept of the 5 Elements of Adventure, which are also sprinkled in the mix of this attraction to the race at this point in my life.

Major Reasons

Wanting to Run More This was kind of weird for me, since I have been content to stay within the bounds of 3-6 mile runs for most of the last 20 years. As the pandemic hit, I found I wanted to occasionally go a little longer– and in the past 6 months, that urge continued to grow and grow. I actually just wanted to run more and longer and longer. To many dedicated distance runners, this may not seem like any big deal, but to me it was a bit of a revelation. Running longer started to feel better. And committing to the longer distances felt more like liberation (from doing other things) than work.

Health I’ve had some health challenges over the past 6 years. (I hope to write more about that someday, but now’s not quite the time yet.) So if all continues to go well in my training, this will be a bit of a celebration of the continued good health and strength that makes this great endeavor possible. We all have a tenuous hold on our well-being, and I’d like to put mine to good use while I am enjoying it.

Boston Children’s Hospital Speaking of health and putting it to good use, my entry into the race is sponsored by the incredible life-protecting, life-restoring group of people at Boston Children’s Hospital. I can’t begin to explain the ways they help families, but I know I’m proud to help raise money for their Miles for Miracles program.

I hope you can join me in contributing to their work for the families most in need by clicking here and making a donation of any size. Every dollar helps– and every person who reaches out gives me more strength to train and run to raise money and awareness for their important work.

Bottom Line

Most of all, what I find still propelling me on my long runs is a mantra I started using when I was training for my last marathon, 20 years ago. I only bring it out in the most difficult moments in a long run, when stopping seems like the most reasonable thing to do. The mantra is a litany of all the people that have inspired my running– I’ll share more about the mantra– and my gratitude for everyone, including you for reading this far in this post– over the next 7 weeks.

I hope you stay tuned. There’s a lot to be grateful for.

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