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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sealing up the Barn for the Season... and looking around the countryside.

FLC XC 2006 @ RMAC Conference Champs.
With Boston Marathon v.115 now only 12 days away last night was the final run of positive consequence for this training cycle. With the spotty spring weather being so schizo to those of us in the wintry climes I was happy to have this final day full of sunshine and cool breeze. The sort of afternoon run that is chilly in the woods and radiates sunshiny warmth out in the open.

For this final run I decided to pay a last visit to the Tanawha Trail  on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a staple of my training as I typically get out there at least once per week for easy/longish runs. This constant re visitation provides a spine of progress to my training much the way speed work and racing do for performance.

The places your feet don't carry you, while your feet are carrying you...
My mind began running ahead of time and I found myself on the familiar sections of the Boston course. I recalled the 13 years of training and failing and succeeding and injuries and retraining and learning and failing and finally now... 12 days away from now, I will be running the Boston Marathon.

A few changes... over the years
Aster Asteracia
Lilith aka Silly Lily

Goliath Johansen
A journey begins '96
Obviously many changes have taken place since the idea to run Boston first cropped up in my head in the spring of 1998. At that time I had just been out of high school for a little over a year, had my first apartment and was working 2 jobs and walking, literally, 3 miles in the snow to one of them. Life was exciting and simple and complicated and I had no idea what I was doing with the living and especially with the running... training was more in confidence than volume and I thought- 26.2 miles... sure okay. I had a lot to learn. After 5 failed BQ attempts I finally got in in 2003 at Chicago... only to get injured and sidetracked...

Not much has changed except for everything... yet, here I am just like I was.

Now having lived all over the US, Japan, spent time in Korea and Kuwait- it is safe to say I am a different person than the one who moved into that small apartment back in Wolfeboro, NH. Now, all my dreams have come true. I have a beautiful wife who I am so in love with, we have our awesome and happy 3 pups and most recently Sylas joined our family and has filled my life with a happiness and love I never imagined.

While running would seem to be diminished in face of all of these amazing additions, it has actually become a richer experience. An hour a day that is solely mine which brings me peace and perspective each day. I use it as a medium to celebrate and cherish the life I am so fortunate to have. As the training has wound down for this culmination of a long term goal I have been somewhat retrospective of my journey as I prepare to soak in the event and savor the steps as I pilgrimage from Hopkinton to Boston.

The Sean, The Snail and The Psyche @ Chattooga 50k '10
Here are the main ideas/lessons that are cropping up in my mind.
  • As you all know, keep the goal in mind and you will reach it!
  • Listen. To your body, to a wide range of running perspectives and to that little person inside.
  • You can slow down and speed up, and you can rest... but don't stop.
  • Enjoy the process for what it is. You reach wider and deeper understanding of yourself.
  • Appreciate failure, celebrate success!
  • Volunteer.

Within the myriad of styles we each have I think these are successful traits/ experiences we all share as runners and endurance athletes. We love the rises, the falls, the drama and the simplicity of roads & trails.

Lynnea and I @ Andrews Lake, CO
Whether you are the ultra veteran, the class clown, the edgy rock star, the type-A planner, the philosophical dreamer or just off the couch and seeing this world for the first time around... these are concepts which continue to be beneficial through all phases of my running life. 

I'd like to hear what keeps you going through the seasons of your running life and how you have enriched your journey a step at a time! So leave a comment or drop an email. Let's keep learning and loving and moving~

It is a blessing to be in a place where we can live such a great life and with style.  Happy Running!

Sylas Lee loving the journey


  1. Dude! I am so happy for you! Boston right around the corner...a full training cycle coming to an end...

    Knowing that this is just a small moment in your journey, that is a priceless gift. It's fun to just point your toes downstream and enjoy the ride; it's much easy than tryingto swim against the current.

    Run well at Boston, enjoy the game. A much slimmer Snail will be chasing you at Chattooga!

  2. It could just be that I'm a bit of an emotional wreck these days or it could be that I am just filled with so much inspiration from this post, but I think this is easily my most favorite post you've ever written. I can hear the reflection and consequent smile in your words and I am so excited to have been able to share your journey by reading along these last few years. Looking forward to hopefully meeting and cheering you on in Boston! T-minus 11 days!

  3. Quite a journey. I've bookmarked this one and will be returning to it the next time I try to qualify for Boston. It's something I've wanted to do for awhile, but with the new standards, I think it will be quite difficult for me. I guess I have to adjust my own standards.

    Hopefully the Red Sox will have at least one win by the time you get to Boston.

  4. What an inspiring post Sean. The best Pre-race Boston thoughts I've heard yet. So happy for you that you have reached your goal and will have the chance to experience the fruits of your labor in just a few days. Definitely loved your theme of "Enjoy the journey"--something I strive to do, sometimes forgetting but mostly just trying to take it all in.

    "Not much has changed except everything" --this made me laugh and smile, so true so true of life.

    What keeps me going through the "seasons of running life" is just that remembering there are different seasons. Right now my life dictates the shorter runs a few times a week and that is OK. No marathons or long distance for me but I'm enjoying the fun of races 5K's more often and learning, learning, learning. The more I learn the more I realize I don't know very much....I think that is true relating to a lot of things. Too bad I'm not a teenager anymore back when I knew everything :) Happy running to you.

  5. Great post Sean! For me to continue through "the seasons of running life," I try to enjoy my surroundings. That is probably why I only set foot on the track or the sidewalk/road for 5 miles out of each ~45 mile week. Discovering new places and trails provides plenty of motivation for me but I still have lulls in my running when signing up for a big race gives me an incentive to run hard (need to sign up for one soon actually). Also, I try to have fun out on runs no matter what the situation. There are many times I dread heading out into the cold rain (my least favorite) but after i warm up I just don't care anymore how wet I get and begin to just aim for puddles and streams to run through. It almost becomes like the times when you wanted to have fun playing in rain as a kid. You begin to shed this cloak of despair you've wrapped yourself in and just go with it and live. You just have to soak up every moment and realize that you can always find enjoyment in what you're doing.

  6. What a great post!

    I'm so excited for you at Boston!

  7. Obviously, this post portends tears upon crossing the Boston finish line. Should have put a disclaimer at top "Spoiler Alert".

    Prepare(d) to kick some ass!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I love your blog and your insights. This is a lot to ponder. The thing that resonated the most is that you've got to keep going. Never stop. I can't run right now and I often wonder if I ever run fast again. I think of 2008 and how much I improved in my running, and now it's a slow shuffle at short intervals that I call running. I'm dreaming of the time I get to go to the track again. That feeling of all your efforts getting rewarded. So, I'm doing everything I can now, and I'll get there. Simply because I never decided to side with the odds that are against me.


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