In the fall of 2001 I decided to put off the inevitable no longer and registered for the 2002 Boston Marathon. Because I also wanted to do my first Ironman triathlon later in 2002, I took a cross-training approach to preparing for Boston. In addition to running seven days a week I completed two to three half-hour swims per week and two to three 45-minute bike rides. This approach not only gave me a foundation of swimming and cycling fitness that would put me in a good position to develop peak triathlon fitness after Boston but it also took my running to a whole new level. I set huge PR's at 5K and the half-marathon in February tune-up races.
In March a mild pain emerged in my hip. I kept on training heavy and the pain grew worse. I tried everything short of running less to make it go away, but the degeneration continued. At last, just two weeks before Boston, with all of my hard training done and nothing but the taper left in front of me, I broke down and got x-rays. Sure enough, I had a pelvic stress fracture. I was out of the marathon; all of that suffering and sacrifice was wasted.
In the fall of 2008, after running a disappointingly modest PR at the marathon distance, I decided to take another crack at Boston. I also decided to do my second Ironman later in 2009, but I chose to run as much as 12 times per week in pursuit of ultimate running performance instead of cross-training as I had done in 2001/2002. The training went very well for a while. I set another half-marathon PR and was fit enough to demolish my 10K PR, although I failed to do so in both of my 10K tune-up races due to fatigue from training. I did flirt with overtraining, but responded to the symptoms aggressively and had a great tempo run on March 21, 10 effortless miles at 5:41 per mile, which suggested I was still on track to run somewhere around 2:35 despite everything.
With 27 days to go until Boston a pain emerged in my left achilles tendon. It got worse quickly, so I decided to take three days off from running. Yesterday I performed a tentative test run on the treadmill. After covering 2.33 miles at 8:00/mile the pain was as intense as it had been before the layoff. You know a soft tissue injury is serious when three days of no impact does absolutely nothing to heal it.
Deja vu all over again. My Boston Marathon dream has been shattered again in the 11th hour. This time there's still a good chance that I will be able to travel by foot from Hopkinton to downtown Boston on April 20, but that mode of travel will, in the best case, be better described as jogging than as running. I will not even attempt to run again until a week out. In the meantime I will start my Ironman training
the swimming and cycling parts thereof, anywaya little early and try to move on.
The life of the long-distance runner is a life of many disappointments.