Yes, I understand this is a humor column, but this is actually serious.
I’ve got a big mouth. This shouldn’t come as shocking news to you. But in spite of my tendency to speak often, loudly, and inappropriately, I’ve actually been able to keep a secret for the past couple months. But now, it’s time for me to open my big fat mouth:
I have a goal. A big, fat, scary, potentially embarrassing one.
It’s not like me to be so secretive. I’ve always told people to share their goals, as terrifying as it may be. It’s much easier to keep our goals to ourselves so that we won’t look foolish if we fall short. But it’s also that much easier to quit when you keep your goals to yourself. If you tell the world about it, you’ve made yourself accountable. And that’s a powerful motivational tool.
So, in the interest of practicing what I preach, here goes:
I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Yes, really. No, this isn’t a joke. Yes, I understand this is a humor column, but this is actually serious. I know, I find it funny, too. I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing. Okay, seriously, stop. It’s not that funny. Now you’re just hurting my feelings. Sigh. Go ahead and change your pants. I’ll wait.
I know I’m not an elite athlete. I’ve done endurance sports for a couple years now, but from marathons to Ironman triathlons, I’ve always been a just-finisher, jogging along and hamming it up on the course. Through these experiences, I’ve discovered my body’s able to do some pretty cool things, more than I ever thought I could do. Now, I’m curious to see what else it’s capable of accomplishing.
Under the torture tutelage of my new coach (Competitor.com senior producer Mario Fraioli, a.k.a. Coach Dude), I’m being turned into a lean, mean running machine. Okay, a slightly soft, kinda awkward running machine. Tomato, tomahto.
Training to qualify for Boston is much different than what I’m used to. My training plans lately have hard speed intervals and hill repeats and a distinct purpose, whereas before my workouts focused mainly on mileage goals and the ultimate objective of “not dying.”
I’m busting my hump every day, and as such, my workout logs are filled with detailed feedback for Coach Dude, like “I just did your ‘7-minute miles’ workout. I hope you die in a <bleep>ing fire.”
Last weekend, I tracked down a few Boston Qualifiers at the PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon. They were kind enough to share their insights on how I can qualify as well. Their advice was pretty standard: Get a good coach, make every workout count, and be willing to push your limits.
My favorite, however, was a 48 year-old guy who, when asked for the great secret to getting faster, replied “Beer.” I liked him. I really, really, liked him.
When I asked if they thought it’d be possible for me to qualify for Boston, too, they all said the same thing: “Absolutely.”
Do I believe that? I don’t know. But I just opened my big mouth and announced my goal in a very public forum, so I damn well better try.
A coach? Check.
A plan? Check.
A willingness to suffer? Check.
Boston or bust.