The Boston Hangover

So how is it possible that I'm feeling down within a few hours and now one week later from one of the biggest moments in my life--running the Boston Marathon? I believe it’s a combination of post partum depression and “hello, my name is Ty and I am a running addict.” Okay…there, I said it. Whew!

I’ve had this happen to me before with other races that had a lot of anticipation. San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in 2007 comes to mind. It was my first marathon and as I’ve written here before, I had delusions of qualifying for Boston in my first ever marathon. Yeah, right! I remember the feeling right after that race which was a 3:47 time. I just broke four hours in my first marathon, so why was a feeling a bit off?

Considering I never ran growing up, it was my first marathon, and I trained 100% by myself without a running group or coach I should have been elated. I remember my cousin, Kristine emailing me “all I can say is the boy’s got wheels!” Being an individual sport and a VERY competitive person I was perhaps far too critical of my performance and wanted to quickly “get back on the horse.” The only problem was that I could barely walk after San Diego and felt like Indiana Jones after the scene where he was dragged by the German military truck.

I’ve “seen this movie before” with other goals in my life that I’ve achieved where it sometimes leaves you with a bit of an empty feeling. The chase and getting the goal is 99% of it. Then you are left with a feeling of “what do I do now?” The other analogy is looking forward to Christmas as a kid. The closer you got, the more excited you got.

The day after Christmas is the best way to describe it; no more presents to open, the gift or two that didn’t quite meet expectations, and Christmas wrapping paper carnage (or in the case of running, your smelly clothes and thousands of paper cups and goo packs to sweep up.)

Like San Diego, I have been far too critical of my Boston performance. I ran a respectable 3:23 which qualifies me for Boston again next year (seven minutes short of my 3:30 qualification time.) I felt my training session was my best yet, and thought I was in a position to run 3:15-3:20, but even race morning, I didn’t feel I had the energy. Within an hour of the race, I was celebrating by downing a cool one from my version of the Boston chalice and began to wonder, "did I over train...did I start out too fast?"

As my DailyMile buddy (Bobby) from the Boston area (and water volunteer at mile 15 this year) put it, “I don't know the stat but a lot of BQers don't usually re-qualify on the course. Well done.”

Has this happened to you? How often do you finish a race and either feel, I need another racing fix, or want to improve on what I just did, and pour over the internet to find your next race? That would be me again.

Being a running junkie that needed a fix, I posed the question to Twitterland and my DailyMile peeps and got a number of interesting suggestions on my next marathon, and narrowed it down to Grandma’s Marathon (in Duluth, MN) or more locally, the Steamboat Marathon. Another true confession…I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life and I’ve never been to Steamboat. I also met a woman once who lived in Vail and didn’t ski.

After a virtual "coin flip," I’ve punched my card to run my next Marathon in Steamboat in June.

The other thing I eventually do after a race and after the post partum neurosis subsides is to try and objectively look at what went right, what went wrong, and what can I do to improve. I’ve scheduled myself to go in for an “Oxygen Consumption and Body Composition Analysis” at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Human performance lab. One of the women in my running group (Blondie) went through this analysis and actually resulted in a 1st place performance in her age group at Boston this month. Wow…as the woman in “When Harry met Sally” said, “I want what she’s having.”

I believe this is part of the next plateau of my training and that is to move beyond Garmin’s mileage and pace statistics to a heart rate monitoring approach to my training. I have no idea what to expect in this lab, but suspect it will look like a Gatorade commercial with some guy in a lab coat and clip board looking over me huffing and puffing on a treadmill. Minus the part of me looking like a Gatorade model of course.

The good news is that I’m trying to pull out of the doldrums and move the energy towards improvement, so stay tuned.

A Final Comment

Do not get me wrong, I am not complaining as I feel privileged to have qualified and run in the most prestigious race in the land, but it’s another 354 days until my next Boston Christmas.


  1. i so "get" the let down feeling you describe and of course, i do the same thing, start looking for the next challenge or goal. i can't remember the last time i wasn't training for something. my life seems just a little "off" when i don't have a purpose for why i get up every morning at 4:15am. good job at requalifying again...and at Boston no less. I'll be running Boston in 2011...see ya there!

  2. I agree - I get the same feeling. I find that having another race to look forward to is the best medicine. I also start reading up on other marathons, and put together a potential long-term racing calendar.

  3. Ty, I think most of us have been there but it so doesn't matter when you are the one going through it. One of the things that has helped me is to have a new goal immediately after the marathon. So that the week of the marathon I am excited about it coming but more excited about being done with it and on to the next thing. Not always a marathon though, sometimes the goal is a shorter faster race in the next couple of months. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. My "downer" was after I achieved my BQ time at Chicago last October. I was so elated that I had qualified, it drained all my energy! It took a couple of months till I regained my mojo enough to prepare for RUNNING Boston - not just saying I had qualified for it.

    But now that it's over, I am still riding a high. And that's even after I missed re-qualifying by a slim 55 seconds. (My saga is here: ) I will be back in Boston - running - in 2011. And I will be faster. But I doubt I'll have a better time!

    Congrats on your strong race, and good luck at Steamboat!


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