Crossing One off the Racing ‘Bucket List’

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Holy Cow! I now realize that it has already been three whole weeks since I ran the venerable Boston Marathon! I guess I’ve been putting off writing the blog post as I really don’t know where to start and where to end with this post. Usually, I’ll just go through the whole process of the lead-up, the race itself, then the post-race re-cap, but it just doesn’t seem like going through the normal motions would do justice to what this race represented for me. So instead, I’ll beg your indulgence as I wax a little philosophical about the entire ‘journey’, both my own as an individual, as well as my own as an athlete (of sorts). As I had already aluded to, there are some photos that you can browse at your leisure, as well as a custom map of the race from the day that I threw together. These sort of make up the ‘tangible’ of the race, but come far short of the actual story behind it. So, read on, dear friends, and maybe you’ll get a little more insight into the entity known as ActiveSteve 🙂

First, let’s get something straight here: There is no such thing as an easy marathon. Running a full 42.2km at the hardest pace you can muster is hard regardless of whether it is uphill, downhill, flat, or rolling. It takes a lot out of you. But you know what? You get out of it exactly what you put in. A local fellow I respect always expounds on his pupils that you need to “Plan your race, and race your plan”. For that very reason, my actual performance on race day was no more and no less than precisely what I intended it to be. I had trained for a 3:30 marathon, and cruised in comfortably at 3:26:32. Where did that put me? Well, officially, 6,074th out of 22,645 finishers. 5,139th out of 13,112 males, and 2,726th out of 4,656 in my age category. But who cares, right? I did it! I RAN BOSTON! This is a race I had to qualify for with a time no more than 3:10. I’ve proven myself as a worthy runner, and am 100% satisfied with my performance at the race.

The conditions were nearly perfect. The crowds were absolutely amazing. The boost of seeing my family at km 36 was immeasurable (well, perhaps measurable, based on the sprint I managed after stopping to say hi). The race itself was everything I had read it would be. The Newton Hills (including Heartbreak Hill) were barely registered as speedbumps in my quest for the finish. Wellesely College, and it’s throngs of kiss-hungry young females certainly cost me a few minutes, but again, totally worth it to have the ‘full experience’. Crossing the finish line, arms in the air, tears in the eyes, not replicable ever again if I were to re-do this marathon. Mingling with about 24,000 other runners at the race expo, all in top form, an absolutely crazy experience. Blitz weekend in Boston sharing experiences with my sister and her family, totally fun, even though it almost made me miss the race! In brief terms, my nephew was a bit upset the night before, I used earplugs, missed my alarm, was awoken with precisely 10 minutes to get out the door to catch a shuttle :-). You want more actual race details? Drop me a line at bostonmarathon -at- activesteve dawt com. To me, this single paragraph sums it up enough. The other details, I’ll keep to myself, locked away in my footlocker of amazing memories of my life to date.

So, where does that leave me? Well, it leaves me looking back at how I got here. The things I have done, the sacrifices I’ve made over the years, and yes, even the things I may have lost in my quest to…. ‘succeed’ at the things I do. As I get just a little older, I’ve definitely become much more self-aware. I’ve learned who I am, and what makes me tick. That alone took years to understand, but I’m okay with it. My friends seem okay with it, and have always been supportive, if not a touch making fun of me 🙂

Am I OCD? Yup, a bit. I like to know where to find things, and I like to find efficiency in the things I do. I think that’s why I love racing, training, and the outdoors in general. Outside of the walls that contain me on a daily basis, is a world that I have no control over. The rain may fall. A tree may block my path. I may get a flat tire or twist an ankle. I have to overcome those things, and push on through my own discomforts, mentally or physically, in order to reach the end goal. Training is a metaphor for life. After all, the only sure thing in life is death, and every day that I take a breath is a day that I’ve cheated death, and a day that is worth living to the fullest and enjoying. I intend to live with no regrets, and go through it all with that same shit-eating grin you’ve all seen me with, and with the energy of a thousand children. I don’t know any other way to go through this life! As Iggy Pop puts it best, I have a lust for life!

For years, I found escape in music and partying. Then, less than 8 years ago, I turned a new leaf. I got interested in adventure racing, and discovered I was horribly unprepared for those rigours, so I backed up a step and spent a couple years running and building an endurance base. As those years progressed, I spent more and more time training, much of it alone, in the theater of the mind. You are never as open to your own thoughts as when you are training long and hard on the roads. My focus and energies gradually changed, and along with it, a lot of me also changed. I am not the same person as you may have known 8 years ago. Granted, I’m substantially the same person, but not completely. My life expectations and my outlook and my desires have certainly changed. You may recall my 4-month cycling tour of NZ. Well, that too was a bit of a mental trip as well.

As most of you are now aware, all of this has also ultimately led me to make some rather major life changes this year. The truth? For all to hear? I am 100% happy with the past 10 years of my life, but made a very difficult decision to depart from the comforts of what that life had, and now seek new paths for myself. There are no harsh feelings or catastrophic events resulting from those changes, simply a new page in the book of my life. I’m excited for the new chapters that are yet unwritten, and hope everyone understands that. Judge me if you will, but know that I am happy with my decision, and it was not an easy one to make.

So, back to Boston. A race. A marathon. A need to qualify to get there. A goal. A journey. As I ran the race in the midst of thousands of others, I felt free, and I felt happy. I would be naive to say that I got there alone. I have had the support of countless people, from mere well-wishers, to those that would come out and watch me race and cheer me on. Even more encouraging were words from friends who would confide in me that my actions were prompting them to be more active as well. Who would ever have thought that my own personal actions might actually get people outside riding a bike, or going for a run? It was very humbling, and in some ways, made me even more determined to maintain this lifestyle.

So, at the start of my 35th year on this planet, I am still looking for greater challenges, more amazing adventures, and making even more connections with the people around me. I plan to continue sharing my adventures with all of you, even though it may take me a few weeks to get around to writing up the posts 😉

Hmm, well, as I started typing this post, I had no idea where I’d go with it. In the past few weeks, I’d rehearsed in my head all the details I wanted to share about Boston, but my fingers just wouldn’t let me go there tonight. There are still a myriad of thoughts swirling around in my head at the moment about all of this, but re-reading what I’ve put above seems like a pretty good place to stop. I would like to once again thank you all for stopping by and reading my thoughts, and hope that you too are all happy, and able to find what you want in life. Good night to you all, and stay tuned for my race report on my first adventure race of the season, where I totally screwed up. Yup, it’ll be an entertaining one…. 🙂

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