You train and train and train. Weeks turn into months, and the Saturday morning long runs creep ever longer until they themselves sometimes feel as if they last weeks or months. Mileage continues to increase. Your family and dog grow accustomed to life without you each Saturday, first until 10, then until 11, and then… well, eventually entire Saturday mornings become pretty much a lost cause.
As the mileage increases, your thoughts turn to pacing. You perform calculations in your head: Is this the marathon pace I want to keep? How would today’s run translate to 26.2 with the increasing fatigue the later miles bring? What pace do I need to sustain in the first 12 miles to be happy with it?
Finally, like an NFL team entering Week 4 of preseason, your primary goal becomes to play out the string without tweaking a hamstring. Just let me finish this final 20-miler injury-free. One more long run and I am in the home stretch. And, then, three weeks before the race, with that one final long run in the books, you come home, you shower, you feel sweet relief of having completed your true marathon training. And, in my case, after coming home, showering, and changing out of my running clothes, I was fortunate enough on Saturday to find this in the mailbox:
Final Boston Marathon runner information. In my left hand is a little glossy guide for runners. In my right hand is the official 2016 Boston Marathon Runner Passport. Once I arrive in Boston, I will tear out a little card in the back of that passport, present it with my photo ID, and receive an honest-to-goodness Boston Marathon bib. Not a day goes by anymore when I don’t play the famous course through in my mind and imagine running it. And all of this will make me… a bit of a basket case for the next three weeks.
Tapering, as I’ve posted before on this blog, does crazy things to the brain. Am I drinking enough water? Am I drinking too much water? Should I eat that? Should I eat more? Did I train hard enough? Does it matter? Should I check the 21-day extended weather forecast for Boston for the 5th time this morning just to see if it’s changed (no, of course I didn’t do such a thing today, and no, I am not secretly excited that they were forecasting partly cloudy in the 50’s for race day). And how can I be expected to concentrate on work when I’m preparing for one of the greatest sporting events in the world? I’m an elite mediocrity of an amateur athlete? Don’t YOU KNOW WHO I AM????
Or maybe I will get myself psyched up enough so that I will put on YouTube and blast classic NFL Primetime highlight music while I put a load of laundry in the dryer (not that I did this tonight or anything…)
Then, after that, I will delve into the musical main course, the old 1980’s CBS NBA opening music.
I love that old NBA on CBS music. I mean, love it. If the Boston Pops played it in a concert, I would actually pay good money to go see the Boston Pops. It brings back so many memories of watching the Bird/Parish/McHale Celtics in their heyday.
I’ll let you in on a little secret about that NBA music. Go to the little bridge portion that begins at 1:03 in the YouTube clip. It’s okay, I’ll wait for you. Hear that? Well, back in the 80’s NBA intros, for whatever reason the video editors at CBS would nearly always place a shot of something transportation-related right there. Sometimes if the game were at the Boston Garden, they’d show stock footage of an MBTA green line train approaching the facade of the old Garden and North Station’s old elevated track (since torn down in the Big Dig). Sometimes – and I liked this even better – they’d show the Celtics or Lakers getting off a team bus, luggage in hand, entering an enemy arena. Those shots made such a mark on me that, to this day, I hear this very snippet of NBA on CBS music in my head nearly every time I walk off a plane. You can bet it will be playing in my head when we arrive at Logan Airport in mid-April.
See, my mind has to deal with three entire weeks of this insanity. It’s going to be a long three weeks. But it will be worth it. I’ve completed training entirely injury-free, and I’m ready for Boston.