The six days after Boston were light. I took Tuesday off. On Wednesday, as I eased into it, I was surprised - given that I dropped out around 14 miles - how tight my quads were. I jogged 30 minutes - probably 9-minute pace. Thursday I got in 45 minutes. Friday I got in 60 minutes. Saturday I took my comprehensive exam at AU, and was up too late the night before to train. On Sunday, I put in a still-tired 80 minutes in Alexandria before covering the GW Parkway Classic.
The following week I entered the Cleveland Marathon. And since my legs did not feel ready to run hard yet, I decided to devote the week to getting in some solid mileage and claiming a more recent race result than Boston.
At the Pike's Peek 10K, my only goal was to run hard and give myself a solid test. I clocked 32:31, a lot slower than last year.
But, all things considered, I was happy to be racing - and it was a step towards putting Boston behind me.
Cleveland is May 20. And man, it's weird to be running right now. Had Boston gone well, the last couple weeks I would have just run when I felt like it.
Instead, I've put in two weeks right around 85 miles, close to 90 percent of what I was doing to prepare for Boston.
In the run-up to Cleveland, I guess I'm more focused on making my head strong than anything else.
On one hand, it makes no sense to put in a steady 20 miles (parts were right around 6 flat) 15 days before Cleveland. On the other, I had to.
That's what I'll continue doing these last couple weeks: whatever I think I need to get on that starting line and run like hell.
As I wrote in my article about Boston for AU's American Observer, dropping out when I did in Boston basically gave me the chance to fight another day. I am not somehow who recovers well from marathons; had I fought on - finishing, I'm guessing, in more than 3 hours - that would've been it for me until the fall.
Going after another thon, then, is a chance to still capitalize on the training I did. But I'll be honest: My first run at Boston is something I'll always wrestle with internally.
Here's the deal. One of the advantages of being a runner who does not race to pay the bills is that, ultimately, running is a journey.
Sometimes I feel like I take this journey way too seriously. Other times I feel like I don't take it seriously enough.
My Boston shirt - the one you get when you pick up your packet - is in my drawer, tags on, with my other T-shirts. In the morning, when I go through the drawer and pick out any shirt but that one, I think back to the airport in Boston. So many runners not only wore that shirt; they wore the finishers' medal around their necks!
I loved that. I also loved how, in the airport, all the Boston finishers talked to each other at length about their races.
I talked to many of these people myself - as many as I could. And I could not help but notice that, when I told them I dropped out, it was obvious my words made zero sense to them.
I heard people say, I ran 20 minutes slower; I ran 30 minutes slower; I ran an hour slower. I did not hear anyone say, I bailed at 14.
The fact is, a little more than 96 percent of the field got it done.
The fact is, my goal involved more than crossing the line.
I guess what I realize now all too well is that I need to run at least one more personal best in the marathon to be satisfied with this journey. Right now I'm no doubt a bit too preoccupied with it for my own good. But, it is what it is.
Still, I'm glad I had those conversations. If things work out, I'll carry them with me all the way back to Hopkinton.
For now, Cleveland beckons.