The dull ache in each pounding footstep would remind me of that race and the terrible feeling of missing my goal.
Unlike so many runners I know, I did not rush home and register for a new event. Instead, I backed off running and decided to focus on improving my 5K time. I signed up for CrossFit and focused on gaining fast-twitch muscle.
Working out constantly can be a nice distraction when you don't want to deal with something that's bothering you. But on long runs, around mile 10, the nagging pain in the arch of my right foot would strike—the same pain that made my toes spasm in cramps for a week after the marathon. The dull ache in each pounding footstep would remind me of that race and the terrible feeling of missing my goal.
I knew I had to sign up for another race. I knew that achieving a sub-four would be the only thing that would make running truly enjoyable again.
I registered for the Wineglass Marathon the day after the 2017 Boston Marathon. I'd been in town to cover the elites and was taken up by the excitement. Mingling with the qualifiers and witnessing Jordan Hasay's triumphant debut made me believe that the time was right, and that I could reach this four-hour goal. Heck, I thought, who knows? Maybe one day I can knock 30 minutes off my time and qualify, too.
In May, I started with a base plan. I talked to my running buddies. I said I wanted to focus on speed and volume. I wanted to work up to 45 miles per week and work in a tempo workout, an interval day, CrossFit and long runs with strides. Some asked if I could eat enough to do all that, but I was relentless. I thought it just took grit and undying focus. I put Post-it notes around my office reminding me to never give up and keep working to get better—and to keep my squats low.