This is my last week of “spring training” before I start the grueling 18-week preparation for the 116th Boston Marathon. Over the past 12 weeks, I’ve eased back into a running routine, entertaining myself with hill repetitions, speed work on the track and short to medium runs. I’ve seen the leaves turn and then fall and I’ve seen the windows of daylight diminish as I layer on the reflective gear. I’ve tried to ignore the fact that my left adductor still chatters now and again in pain, especially if I slip into a pair of high heels as I transform from runner to career woman. I’ve also seen that winter layer of body insulation start to melt away and I have extra room in my everyday wardrobe to prove it.
I anticipate the comments that will begin to come in as the 18 week schedule moves from medium distance to long distance and my body adjusts and my muscle definition increases. The bone structure in my face will become more prominent and I will begin to hear, “Are you taking care of yourself?” “Are you sure you aren’t overdoing it?” “You look so fit. Are you sure this is good for someone your age?” A funny thing happens as you increase your distance, you lose your appetite. Your body begins to learn to conserve and you eventually reach a point where it is hard to replace the calories you expend during your training. That is especially true if you are training in the winter. Your body is working twice as hard keeping you both warm and fit.
I love to see the transformation, a metamorphisis if you like, take place. For me it is a condition I can only sustain for a limited time. Yet, there’s only one Boston Marathon, and I’ve decided to leave it all on the course for this one event. And why not? When I look at my feet, it has taken since last April (eight months) to grow back my missing toenails. Too bad it isn’t summer, because these piggies would look quite adorable right about now in a pair of sexy sandals. If my track record is any indication, they will not have the same appeal come June.
So in this final week, before the intensity begins, I will remember that there was a time when I couldn’t run a mile. There was a time when I had no idea what being a Boston Qualifier meant. And there was a time that losing a toenail would have been enough to keep me on the couch. I will also remind myself that there is no doubt that I can cross the finish line because I’ve done it twice before. I will know that I can get faster, as last year I shaved eight minutes of my finish time. And I will know that I have done something that can only be done by believing in yourself and by putting in the hard work to get there. As I run these last easy miles, I'll ask myself, "Where will you be on April 16, 2012?" And for the next 18 weeks I'll have the same answer: I’ll be in Boston.