Posted by: pointlenana | April 15, 2012

Boston 2012 Human BBQ Grief Recovery Guide

Kind of thinking out loud here since I know others are thinking about this.

The BAA sent out mail this morning warning people not to run Monday if they have medical issues, aren’t acclimated to heat (e.g. travelled hear from Seattle), aren’t experienced (does my wife’s 1 count as experience?), or want to live until Tuesday.  I’m joking on that last one, or at least hope so. 

When I read that (during our layover in Chicago) I thought of my Dana-Farber teammates who read that and are either despairing or really torn between doing their first marathon (that they’ve trained hard for) and following the guidance.  I’ve read a bunch of people on Runners World trying to decide whether to run or defer.  Lots of anguish about the situation.

Janet and I are going to run – I don’t think we even considered not running.  We’ll go slow and at best it will be a fun slow long run.  That actually could be pretty great.  I am semi-confident it will work out ok, after running in Chicago last October when I wasn’t acclimated and wasn’t trained very well.  The key is just to take it easy.  I read someone who plans to add a minute to his target pace and walk through every water stop.  It may be hot and it may take a while but I think it will work. 

For people really bummed about not getting to run as fast as they planned – and I get this because even though I wasn’t planning on running fast myself, I’m having trouble letting go of the idea that my wife would run a fast marathon – here are a few thoughts, some of which are particular to me some of which aren’t:

It could be worse.  I’ve read posts by people who trained hard but got injured recently – they’d gladly run in the heat if they could just run.

Deferment is an option but we never know what will happen next year – might be injured, might have a conflict, might be 120 degrees next time. 

Boston is a huge deal in a way but the first time I ran it I thought “Been there, done that, through with that”  For me it’s fun because I get to run in a race that people dream of, with a bunch of really good runners, on a course with a lot of tradition.  None of that changes with the heat.  I may actually get to enjoy it more if I avoid getting the tunnel vision I get when I run fast.

When I found out the acceptance time this year was 11 seconds faster than my BQ time from Boston 2011 I was really bummed – I really wanted to run with my wife. After finding another route in, I still get to do that. 

For those of you who really want to run fast, one option is to go slow tomorrow and then find a marathon in ~6 weeks – somewhere where the temperature may not be horrendous and/or that starts early in the morning.  My guess is that if we can get through the heat unscathed, we may recover pretty quickly.  I ran NYC with Paul a couple years ago, at a pace that was ~20 minutes slower than my best pace.  I felt totally fine a couple days later.  I’m guessing our legs will feel good very quickly, which means there’s an option to train for a few more weeks and then run for real somewhere else.  I’m told people are in their best cardio shape a couple weeks after a marathon.  A friend also told me the way to handle back-to-back marathons like this is to cut back on the distance and work on speed.  He did a couple about 7 weeks apart and took 7 minutes off his time in the second, even after racing the first one. 

There are lots of great marathons out there.  Boston is special in its way but there others that are special.  Big Sur is incredible.  NYC is incredible.  London looked pretty fun when I got to watch it once.  There are a bunch of people (I’m one) who even fly to Sacramento to run in CIM because the course is relatively fast and they have a better chance of a BQ.  Boston is actually a hard place to run fast because it’s narrow and crowded and hilly. I found myself looking at this one last night: which no one has probably heard of. 

This is a good resource for finding other marathons around the country/world – many of these are small local things:

For me it comes down to 3 things:

– having the privilege of running it – which we still have.

– the experience – which we’ll still get

– having a great race – I’ve tried and ‘failed” in Boston twice before and it’s not going to happen this time either. 

Might as well enjoy it – easier said than done but that’s the goal. 




  1. Great post. Hope to meet you out there on the course!

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