18 Weeks to 26.2 Miles: My Marathon Training by the Numbers

Ready or not, I’m running the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014.

This race will be inspiring, emotional, thrilling, crowded, grueling, and competitive.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it – no way can I prepare for a marathon with this kind of mental baggage.  Last year’s tragedy at the finish line guarantees that this year’s race will be heavy with meaning and symbolism.

There used to be a sidewalk here...

There used to be a sidewalk here…

If I think too hard about what this marathon means to me and to Boston, I’ll spend the next 18 weeks sitting here at my desk churning out heart-wrenching essays and crumpled Kleenex rather than pounding out the necessary miles.

So for now, I’ll sticking to the cold, hard facts about my training (cold and hard perfectly describes the thick layer of ice currently covering every single running route within 10 miles of my house).

Zero: the number of pounds I’ve lost since I started training.

Everyone warned me this would happen but I didn’t believe them.  With all this running, how can I not lose weight?  Maybe I’m just building muscle (this must be the most over-used excuse of all time but it is such a good one).  Possibly my early carbo-loading regimen is to blame. It is unbelievably easier than the running regimen.

Five: the number of years I’ve lived 2 blocks from course.

boston-marathon-19For years, I’ve stumbled out my front door with chilly fingers wrapped snugly around a coffee mug and wandered over to Commonwealth Ave to watch first the wheelchair racers, then the elite runners, then the incredibly fit masses, and finally the true commoners who bring up the rear.  I’ve cheered, I’ve clapped, and I’ve thanked God for blessing me with enough common sense to know better.  Who on earth in his right mind would run 26.2 miles when not being chased by a lion?  What was I thinking when I signed up for this?

Sixty-something: the number of songs I will listen to during the race.

I’m an unapologetic ear bud runner. My playlist is part tribute to the 80’s (my glory days) and part new stuff my kids find.  I’ll hit “shuffle” in Hopkinton and see what shakes out.  Will I hear Indigo Girls ballads while I run through a tunnel of Wellesley students?  Will Queen’s ever-motivational “Fat Bottomed Girls” play as I climb Heartbreak Hill?  My life experience has taught me that God has a sense of humor, so I’m thinking yes and yes.

Seventy: the age I’d have to be to meet the women’s qualifying standard at my expected pace.

Alas (or thank goodness) – I am not yet 70 years old.  I’ll be tremendously impressed with myself if when I turn 70, I can still run at my current 43-year-old pace.  Based on the time standards, I’m as likely to qualify for the Boston Marathon as I am to win the Nobel Prize or become a Hooters waitress (even though I’m slow, I have a “runner’s build”).  And the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) doesn’t give special consideration to other talents such as blogging – not even for writers who can use “Nobel Prize” and “Hooters” in the same sentence.

Five Thousand: the number of dollars I need to raise for charity.getcashforsurveys1

Of the 36,000 official entrants in the 2014 marathon, about 30% of us are running for charity.  The sweaty stragglers tromping through faster runners’ discarded cups and empty gel packets have an extra reason to celebrate crossing that finish line.  I will be crossing for Sole Train, a running and mentoring program that’s part of Trinity Boston Foundation.  In their words, they “aim to inspire the city’s youth to realize their full potential and accomplish goals they never thought possible.”


I may not be a city youth, but this suburban mom got caught in the crossfire of their inspiration anyway.  By necessity I’ve become a shameless plugger for their cause, which is now my own.  Click here to help me with my fundraising!



Time for me to sign off – I think I see bare pavement where the ice is beginning to melt, and the roads are calling.  The miles need running.  I’m all about the numbers.



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