I must be taking this seriously – I packed my own cereal. Don’t get me wrong, the hotel breakfast is brilliant but, when it comes to marathon day, the fare on offer is not what my body is totally used to. So, following the tried and tested rule of ‘don’t eat anything new on race day’, I packed my own breakfast.
It’s now barely 24 hours until the starting gun goes on the 2016 Boston Marathon so this brilliant journey from central Scotland to the east coast of America is almost done. Almost. Just 26.2 incredibly famous miles to go first.
Now comes the time to (attempt to) keep calm, not waste any energy and start to look forward to the challenge ahead. There is no absolutely no disguising what’s about to happen in this throbbing city – every second person is wearing either a Boston Marathon jacket or some form of apparel which leaves you in no doubt about why they are here and what they are about to do.
At the moment, Boston resembles some sort of Running Land. I went for a leg-stretcher on Boston Common yesterday morning, starting early largely because of jet lag. I ran a couple of hundred metres from the hotel up to the nearest main street and, everywhere I looked, runners were emerging from all corners. Many of them were heading to the start line of the Boston 5k to kick off a three-day celebration of running and, clearly, Boston itself. If this many people respond to the appetiser, my mind is already begin to boggle about the turnout for the main course!
Standing on the Common and watching some of the runners, I got the first proper pang of anticipation and what it’s going to mean to take part in this hallowed event. As I say, my main concern (other than the fact the weather looks like it’s going to be way warmer than I’ve trained in these past few months) is keeping calm.
So I think about the rest of Team Crumley and their support, my family, friends and all the people who have helped me along this particular way with advice or plain, simple encouragement.
But as well as breakfast, I packed some books too. Two of them are my main reference books and have helped me through marathons and triathlons in the past. The other has helped me with my Boston homework.
Chrissie Wellington, the multiple Ironman world champion, is a bit of a hero of mine. Not just for what she achieved, though, but more in fact for the way she did it and for the incredible attitude she has towards training, adversity and life itself. She also happens to be pretty good at this writing lark and I would recommend her book, A Life Without Limits, without hesitation.
One chapter in the book absolutely stands out and, if there were a curriculum for runners and triathletes, I would suggest ‘A Triathlete’s Life’ should be a set text. In it she outlines her approach on how to tackle each challenge, how to embrace the setbacks and smile through them. Reading it on the night before a big race has become a bit of a tradition just to reinforce her mantra of ‘never give up, and smile’.
My second reference book is ‘From Last to First’ by Olympic bronze medallist and London Marathon winner Charlie Spedding. It outlines very succinctly a man who knew his limitations but also knew the rewards that hard work would bring…if he worked in the right way and channeled his efforts in the right direction. It worked. Handsomely. As with Chrissie Wellington’s book, there is a standout chapter. If you want to improve your running, or change your approach about pretty much anything, read ‘The Beer Drinker’s Guide to Sports Psychology’. You won’t regret it.
And, lastly, the homework. ‘26.2 miles to Boston’ by Michael Connelly did exactly what I’d hoped it would do – gave this Boston first-timer far more of an idea about what to expect come Patriots’ Day. In this book, there’s a description of what each mile has in store but, even better, it tells the story behind every part of the course and how the race has evolved over 120 years.
So now all that remains really is to get the race gear ready and settle down with a good book or three. And keep calm…