A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to run the iconic Boston Marathon. It is a special race for so many reasons. There is a rich history going back 123 years. Spectators line the entire course from Hopkinton to Boston – the sound and the energy are thrilling. The only way to run the race is with a qualifying time received by running a previous marathon faster than the required paces required for entry or by raising a significant amount of money for one of the designated charities. The course and the weather both often present challenges as well.
This year, this race was extra special for me as it was the 20th anniversary of running my first marathon (this was going to be my 15th) which also happened to be Boston. I ran it in 1999 and 2001 for the Boston College Campus School while I was at BC. It was also my personal way that I wanted to celebrate turning 40 in late March.
As training subsided and the taper week drew closer, I began tuning into the weather in preparation for my race. The initial weather reports predicted torrential downpours in 40 degree weather – not ideal for running 26.2 miles. Anxiety crept into me. This was not how I had envisioned my celebratory day. I had already made peace with running the race at a slower time than I initially planned after dealing with a small injury. For a few days, all I could think about was the weather.
In my early years of my career, I was taught about Bucket 1, Bucket 2 and Bucket 3. Bucket 1 was what you could control. Bucket 2 was what you had some control of and Bucket 3 you did not have any control. The weather was 100% Bucket 3 and I was getting sucked into it.
Luckily, I was able to recognize what I was focusing in on and was able to reframe my thought process. If I looked at the bigger picture, there was so much in Bucket 1 and Bucket 2 around me that I had lost sight of. It was time to focus on what I had control of – my attire, my nutrition leading up to race day and on race day, my sleep, my race strategy, my mindset. I poured the next week into positivity.
Race day arrived everything was epic as Boston is. Torrential downpours kicked off the morning. When the race actually started for my wave, the rain had subsided, but unexpected heat and humidity rolled in bringing their own challenges. And while that impacted my race, I was prepared as best as I could be. If I had remained focused on a rainy cold race day, I would have failed to pack the appropriate attire. Instead, I planned for alternatives. I also reviewed what I needed to do (intake of salt pre race day and strategies to keep my core body temperature down during race day). I was able to change my race plan to accommodate for the heat.
By taking control of what I could, I was able to fully experience being part of the Boston Marathon. It was incredible!!! The course, the volunteers, the spectators, the weather, the memories of college years, recognizing what my mind and body were doing, seeing the Boston skyline and take in each town, seeing each smiling face out there including my very own husbands. What a thrill – so much because I was able to take control of what I could.
There are so often times that we receive bad news or are faced with less than ideal circumstances. How we react plays a massive role in the outcome. Next time you are in a situation with some Bucket 3 circumstances, recognize what is going on and reframe in a way that allows you to take more control.
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