I wrote this April 20, 2015. I’ve revised it for today’s Boston, which Richard is running again.
Today, in Boston, lots of people will try to run 26 miles and 385 yards. One of them is my friend Richard. (He’s number 17709. If you see him, tell him I said “hi”.) Because of this run, he’ll be missing our weekly Monday morning conversation. But I said it was okay.
If you run a mile in less than 8:23, and the next one that same speed, and you do that for 26 miles, then for another 385 yards, and are a male between 55 and 59, you can qualify to put your name in the hat to have the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon. (If you are a female, 9:32.)
At present, I can run 3.5 miles at 10:34. Last fall, I ran 6 miles at 9:55. I’m not planning to run a marathon. Fall of 2015, I ran a half marathon at 10:41. But we know that anyone can do anything if they want to. So to qualify to maybe get picked to run the Boston Marathon, I would have to run four times farther than twice as far I have ever run, and do it a minute and a half faster for every mile.
(That sounded impossible when I wrote it. But as of 4/17/16, I have run 329 days in a row. And I have run a half. And I am training for a marathon in October.)
The last few miles of a marathon are, according to Richard, pretty awful. Recently while he was preparing, he ran out of energy after 16 miles. He ended up walking home. There’s nothing wrong with walking, but if you are planning to run 26 miles, that’s frustrating.
When people say that something isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, I smile. Because it means that you will use more energy than you ever imagined for longer than you ever imagined. You will need more concentration than you ever imagined and will need more consistent preparation than you ever imagined. You will have to say no to more things for longer than you ever imagined. And at the end, you may be more miserable than you have ever been.
But if you want to complete the marathon well, that’s what it takes. Whatever the marathon is. And there are some things worth doing well.