Monday, April 20, 2015

I should be in Boston today

On Sunday, October 14, 2001, I ran the Towpath Marathon through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It was 26.2 miles of trees, drizzle and the occasional spectator.

I finished that first marathon of my life in a time of 3 hours, 46 minutes, 20 seconds. It was a huge accomplishment, culminating months of training and years of planning.

I was a few weeks away from turning 32 years old and was in probably the best shape of my life. The Towpath was supposed to have been the first in a series of marathons over the course of which I would improve my training techniques, lower my times and eventually run some of the most well-known races in the world.

Instead, life got in the way.

Terry and I had four kids at the time, and a fifth would come along less than five years later. I started coaching youth sports and getting more involved in my children's activities. My job responsibilities increased. My free time  the time needed to do those leisurely three-hour Saturday morning training runs  dwindled rapidly.

In the years that followed, I vowed to recommit to marathons dozens of times. I would type up a training schedule, start to follow it, then fall off a few weeks into the process when I realized I just didn't have the time to train for such long races anymore.

I desperately wanted to run the Cleveland Marathon. Or the Marine Corps Marathon. Or the New York City Marathon.

Most of all, I wanted to run the Boston Marathon.

Running a marathon is a bucket list item, but running Boston is the pinnacle. It's the most recognized and most highly celebrated marathon in the world. For one thing, you can't just enter the Boston Marathon. You have to qualify for it, and the qualifying times are pretty ambitious by almost any standard.

To run Boston means that you've not only conquered the marathon distance, it means you've whipped it into submission.

But it has never happened. The 119th running of the Boston Marathon is today, and I won't be there. Again.

Marathon training is a time-intensive proposition. Not just on the weekends, but even throughout the week when you're trying to crank out the 6- and 8-mile morning runs that prepare your mind and body for 3-plus hours of hard effort on race day.

So for now, no thank you. It's time to stop kidding myself. At this stage of my life, if I want anything approaching enough sleep and to spend even meager amounts of time with my family, then marathon training is out of the question.

That doesn't mean it's always going to be out of the question, but for now that's the way it is. And let's face it: None of us is getting any younger. There's the very real possibility that by the time my schedule allows for extended training runs, my body won't. That's just the way it is, folks, and I'm going to roll with it.

But I admit that I'll be watching the highlights from Boston tonight with a little pang of remorse mixed with thoughts of "what if?" Maybe someday...


  1. I still love ya bro! You're a winner in my book!