Last night, I pulled into my parking space right behind my wife. She returning from a long day and commute at work. Me, a glowing yet exhausted smile after ripping off 20x200m at the track. We both gave each other a tired kiss and while I gingerly walked up the stairs to our place -- slow steps to appease quivering hamstrings on the verge of cramps -- she walked down to our mailbox.
I sipped on some gatorade and heard the mail flop down on the table. That's when I saw it. Those big block white letters that read "Boston Marathon." My results book and finisher's certificate had arrived. I tore open the plastic and turned it over and over in my hands. You would have thought it was a brand new Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle. I peeled the finisher's certificate off, examined it and made sure all the info was right on it (it was, unlike others). Then I flipped through the guide to find my name. I remember reading that the guide would be coming in the middle of the summer. But back in April, July seemed like a lifetime away.
As I flipped through that book, I unconsciously started rubbing my quads. Could have been from the intervals, could have been the body remembering. But it did set me on a quick trip back to April. Simply put, it was a different time.
I'd say the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Enough time had lapsed for the excitement of Boston to wear off, and the subsequent scars of those punishing hills to fade away. And, yes, even the lingering thoughts of "Why the hell would I want to do this again?" vanished to the point where, indeed, I will be toeing the line in Hopkinton again in 2011.An easy week was in the low 50s mileage-wise. The weather was brisk and unpredictable. One day I was in tights and gloves. The next in shorts and a sleeveless. I avoided anyone who looked like they might even have the potential to get a cold like, well, like they could potentially give me that phantom cold. Long runs started at 16 miles, and a 12 miler was just called Tuesday.
Here in July, it's about staying cool, considering any run that starts with double digits a victory, and topping out 35 miles a high week.
While I remembered those times, I brought them forward to the present with me to remember just exactly why I was out in triple digit temps running hill strides, why I've risen at 5:30 in the morning to sneak in a workout because I had plans after work, or why I've circled the track interminably with the sun setting around me.
I guess sometimes, mired in the day-to-day, riding out the the middle weeks of our training programs like a miler rides out the third lap, it can be hard to remember why you're putting yourself through it. Other times the motivation is simply waiting for you in the mail. I'm sure that I'll get a similar dose when the air chills and I can pull out my Boston jacket.
Suddenly, getting up at 5:20 this morning didn't seem like such a chore. April 2011 is quite some time away, but now I can turn to that book or look up at the certificate and remember how I earned it and what it's going to take to get there again.