In preparation for my goal marathon, the Windermere Marathon in May, I had a 24 miler on tap for last weekend. Coincidentally, the Salt Lake Marathon was also happening last weekend. So, instead of watching tons of TV on my treadmill for four and a half hours or so, I donned my yellow and blue and toed the line at my hometown marathon to get my training in and a remembrance run for Boston.
As far as times goes, this run was exactly where I intended it to be. In terms of memories, this was an experience I will never forget.
Since I have not qualified for Boston (yet!), I did not have Boston attire to wear during the race, so I improvised with blue running tights and a yellow singlet. The race began with a moment of silence, and a the starting gun went off. Sweet Caroline, a Boston Red Sox musical staple, was playing. The emotion was palpable as everyone raised their arms in sync to display Boston Marathon bands that had been distributed by race organizers.
The weather was unusually rainy, even for Utah in April but with my rain jacket and gloves, I didn’t feel like the weather affected my pace at all. After the initial excitement wore off around mile 6, I settled into a 10-minute mile pace that I maintained for the rest of the race.
The new Salt Lake Marathon course is touted as being downhill, which it is for the first half, but beginning at mile 15, the race is mostly uphill with a few (read: not enough) downhills to temper the inclines. Mile 18 was especially tough, with a steep incline that made me curse the race organizers (and just curse).
Other than a long run-appropriate pace, my goal was to run smart (avoid doing anything that would keep me from the next three races I have scheduled) and to run 24 miles. I told myself that I could walk the last 2.2 miles if I wanted to, but I think I knew that I’d finish the race running.
The race started to get tough at 22, which was the farthest I’d run in this training cycle, so I took a walk break and checked my phone for some virtual motivation. While doing that, I saw a text from a friend who was planning to surprise me at the finish line and that motivated me to start running so I didn’t keep him waiting. Another walk break at Mile 24 found a wonderful running buddy who encouraged me to start running again, and I finished the race running strong. I was a muddy, wet mess and a little sore and a little tired.
Final takeaway: A special training run; no major injuries; cathartic and inspiring.
And worth every second. I know I cannot imagine how those in Boston must feel, and I know that my run today did nothing to change what happened or alleviate their pain. But we must keep running and living. Salt Lake did on Saturday. There is an amazing solidarity among runners that was demonstrated Saturday, and we will do everything in our power to support those affected.
And we will run on.