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April 18, 2017 | Issue 75
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UCAN
the boston marathon
Me, less than 24 hours ago at the 26-mile mark of The Boston Marathon. More details below.
Photo: Brian Metzler

Good morning! Yesterday was a busy day and the last week has been packed in general, so Issue 75 will be relatively brief and somewhat slanted in nature. I’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming next Tuesday. Enjoy!

Find a way (to the finish line).

Heading into Mile 10 of yesterday’s Boston Marathon I knew I was in trouble. Despite starting with a bottle in hand and dumping water on myself at every available opportunity, I was roasting in the middle of the road. If there was a tailwind, I didn’t feel it. My pace was starting to slow, the 71-degree temperature taking its toll and punishing me for my early aggressiveness. My training told me I had close to 2:30 fitness in my legs but truth be told it wasn’t a 2:30 type of day for me given the warm weather conditions. I knew this when I stepped into the corral of course, and should have been more respectful of that fact, but I went out at 2:30 pace anyway—like an idiot. And I paid for it. Mightily. My A, B and C goals went out the window pretty quickly and I went into straight-up survival mode. I spent the entire last 16 miles of the race figuring out how I was going to make it to the finish line. In racing, as in life, you decide how to play the hand you’re dealt. Everyone was dealt theirs from the same deck yesterday. I didn’t play my cards right and got myself into a hole very early on in the race. My two options were to fold or find a way out of it. I chose the latter. Why? There were a number of reasons: 

  1. It’s Boston. I have too much respect for the event—and its history—to quit without a legitimate reason. Pinning that bib on my singlet is an honor and a privilege that I don’t take for granted. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do it three times now. I thought of the thousands of runners who would have lined up for the chance to trade spots with me and it helped me to appreciate the opportunity I had to be out there. 
  2. What was my excuse? Many times throughout the course I passed people in wheelchairs, blind runners tethered to guides, athletes with one or less lower limbs, and various other participants who were dealing with a lot more challenging circumstances than warm weather and a too-hot early pace. This helped put my own situation in perspective.
  3. I wasn’t the only one struggling. I saw all manner of carnage along the course yesterday. Runners with numbers far lower than my 599 were moving slower than me even when I wasn’t moving that fast myself. Runners were puking along the course, grabbing the backs of their legs to fend off a cramp, or standing on the side of the road contemplating whether or not to continue. It was a rough day for a lot of people. But if they could keep going, I could keep going, even if it meant walking through every aid station from miles 21 to the finish (a first for me), or running a 13-minute positive split to record my slowest marathon (2:47:21) to date. Misery loves company, or something like that.
  4. You finish what you start. When things don't line up perfectly or go your way, you’ve got to complete the job. And while I’m disappointed with my result yesterday, I’m proud of my finish. The lessons I learned along the way will serve me well and foster future growth. I’m holding my head high. Every finish line—races, work deadlines, you name it—should be celebrated. 

All in all, no excuses, no regrets. As Bill Rodgers famously said, “The marathon can humble you.” It wasn’t the first bad race I’ve ever had and it sure as hell won’t be the last. I should have taken my own pre-race advice (thankfully most of my athletes did a better job of this than me!) but nothing I can do about that other than to not ignore it next time. 

Finally, I’m appreciative of all the interest, support, well wishes and notes of encouragement before and after the race. It means a lot to me, so thank you. I enjoyed meeting so many readers at the shakeout run on Saturday, in the Athletes Village before the race and even along the course yesterday. Hats off to everyone who gave it a go and congratulations to all those who finished! It was great being out there with all of you.

Quick Splits

+ I haven't had a chance to really dig into the elite races at Boston but I think it’s fair to say that it was a hell of a day for American runners. Really impressed with the six American men who finished in the top-10, along with Jordan Hasay and Des Linden going 3-4 in the women’s race. More thoughts next week, perhaps. 

+ “He’s also working this way to prove a point: that tools don’t really matter…He wants to remind people that the performance, the song, the feeling matter more than the gear you use to record it. If you want to make something, Lacy tells me, grab whatever you have and just make it. If it’s good, people will notice.” This piece about music producer Steve Lacy is great. The above quote can easily be applied to running and writing. So many people worry about getting the fanciest running watch with all the bells and whistles to track this or that metric before they start training, or procuring a top-of-the-line laptop loaded with fancy publishing software prior to focusing on writing. None of that shit matters all that much when it comes down to it. Get out there and start doing the work first.

I’ve been enjoying Ed Caesar’s dispatches for Wired magazine about his “sub-90” half-marathon pursuit in concert with Nike’s Breaking2 marathon attempt (which will take place next month in Italy). Caesar’s most recent post is a brilliant piece of writing, chock full of real-world wisdom for runners or performers of any sort. “The best runners have learned the lessons of the speed-bag,” Caesar writes, referring to the popular boxing training exercise. “Of course, the sport rewards effort and willpower. But I now understand, as I approach my race in Monza, that it also rewards steadiness and rhythm.”

That’s it for Issue 75. Share it. Reply. Tweet at me

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

P.S. Generation UCAN, this month’s sponsor of the morning shakeout, is offering readers a generous 15% discount on its products. Simply go the UCAN web store, load up on your favorite drink mixes or bars, enter the code SHAKEOUT at checkout and receive 15% off your purchase. It’s that easy!

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