As I sit here on a plane back from Ireland I've just had that first real buzz of excitement and that first flutter of the stomach as I think ahead to Boston Marathon. Next time Mr B and I get on a plane we'll be on our way. If fact, in two weeks time the race will be over. Gulp!
Over the last week or so I've allowed myself to start googling everything I can about Boston Marathon. I've read all the "top tips" articles I can find, I've read my runners passport booklet from cover to cover and I've chatted to two good friends who have run it recently. One of them screwed it up, going out too fast and struggling at the end (though perhaps three hours sleep was more of an issue) the other pace it perfectly and ran a distinctly respectable sub three time. Their stories have really helped me get a feel for what I might expect and with even the less successful of the two talking about it what an amazing experience it was, the bar has been set high for my expectations.
However, it is the outcome of this weekend's Greater Manchester Marathon that has really started to make my brain click into prep-mode. On Sunday lost of good friends raced their hearts out with awesome results. The level of effort, commitment, dogged stubbornness and sheer joy which they showed has made me crave that experience again. But. It has also left me wondering.
Here's where my brain is at:
1. My training runs haven't been quite as on-point as they were last autumn. I need to be realistic. I'd had some great, forced race-pace training runs in the form of Berlin Marathon and Lake Garda marathon.
Last autumn I did three in a row. I had fatigue in the legs by Florence and I've been doing more strength work this time. So maybe my legs will be fresher and more powerful... or maybe I'm not at the same level.
2. I'm only going to get to run Boston once probably (it's flipping expensive) so is it right to go guts-out and potentially not enjoy it? Isn't it better to enjoy the experience?
That's a waste of training and there would always be a what-if. Also, when have I not enjoyed a marathon? The only one I can really say I didn't enjoy was Bournemouth the second time around and that was a very different race experience. I'd always know if I hadn't gone all out and I'm not sure my pride can take that.
3. On top of that, Mr B and I are trying to start a family and at some point I'm not going to be able to race for a bit. I don't know when that will be but for the last year or so there has always been a little voice in my head that says: "this could be your last one - you want to know you gave it your all"
There's also another voice saying "enjoy it so you have a great experience, you don't know when you'll get another go".
3. Florence went better than I could ever have hoped. 2:53:22 was never even in my list of race aims. I can't expect that kind of surprise every time. Florence was also very flat. Boston has the hills, both downhill and up. I slow a LOT on up hills. I don't have much experience of downhills.
With the adrenaline and the crowds perhaps it's more achievable? Everyone says it's not a PB course but there's also a not allowed to be a world record course.
So there we are. If I was an elite athlete I'm sure I shouldn't be sharing my doubts and excitements like this because it would allow my opposition to find my weaknesses. But I'm not, so you get an unedited journey into my muddle-headed meanderings.
I suspect that I won't figure these things out until the moment my foot crosses that start line, or perhaps even the moment it crosses the finish line. So in the meantime I'll you'll find me making sure I hit my final training sessions and on the weekend I'll be running the Original Maverick Dorset race this weekend (coach approved) and letting my brain empty of all its thoughts as I hurtle around the Jurassic coast.