Runner’s High

Training week: 12 of 18
Money raised: $3,868 of $8,000
Today’s run: Might or might not happen (I only need 3 miles)
Cumulative training miles: 263

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d say: I ran 16 miles yesterday, and it felt awesome.

During the past few long runs, I think I’ve experienced the endorphin-fueled runner’s high that I’ve heard so much about. For me, it kicks in after about an hour of running, and it keeps my spirits high and my pace strong until I have just a couple miles left. I bop along to the music in my headphones (actually, I lip sync and play the air drums — for my own entertainment and for passers-by), I keep my head high, and I generally feel wonderful. (“I should do this every day! Marathon training is easy and fun! Hills are my friend!”) Yesterday, this rush carried me through miles 8-14 of a quick 16-miler.

Runner’s high is fantastic! Look at me, making friends yesterday at mile 11! Smiles all around!

The mascot for Heartbreak Hill Running Company is… a gorilla?

So part of me is beginning to reconsider whether this will in fact be my first-and-only marathon, as I had planned. Listen, I’m not saying I’m definitely doing this again. Holy hell, it has been all-consuming. When I’m not at work, I’m running, or recovering, or carefully planning meals for running. It is a huge time commitment. But all I’m saying is that I’m not definitely not doing this again.

Then again, I can’t imagine that I’ll ever have another chance to run Boston. My only options to get into a future race are fundraising again (which is definitely a one-and-done experience for me — talk about time-consuming), or to qualify by running a different marathon at sub-3:35:00. That’s about an 8-minute mile pace, and it would mean I’d have to shave over an hour off my current running goal. So, April 17, 2017 is going to be a legitimate once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.

And the problem with running Boston as your first marathon — in addition to it being one of the world’s toughest courses — is that there’s nowhere to go from here except down. Boston consistently lands in the top spot on any marathoner’s bucket list. It reminds me a bit of hiking the Swiss Alps and then finding the New Hampshire 3,000-footers somewhat uninspiring. Or tasting fresh pasta in Italy and swearing off the Americanized boxed stuff until I had forgotten the difference. Boston is hands-down one of the most exciting road races in the world, with 30,000 runners, epic cheering crowds from Hopkinton to Boylston, and a historic, inspiring course. Plus, this is my home. I can’t imagine feeling this same excitement for running Chicago or New York or London.

So who knows what’s next for my running career. I never thought I’d be where I am today, so there are a lot of possibilities. But for now, all I can focus on is making it to Marathon Monday. I still have over 200 training miles to cover, before I even show up on race day. Six more weeks of chasing that runner’s high. Then, we’ll talk.

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