One part of the preparation that I haven't really talked about is mental imagery. I can remember in college looking at a course map every friday night during XC season and imagining myself running strongly from start to finish.
It might sound like an odd thing to do - but, I don't know of a good coach who doesn't have his athletes use this technique. It works because when you toe the line you feel like you've already been here - you've already run this course strongly. And that extra bit of confidence allows you to react to the difficult parts of the race in a more positive manner. You're less likely to give up - you're more able to relax and push through the difficult times.
One powerful image for me is a flowing river - it may be calm, but there is a lot of force and it is continually moving. Of course there is a lot of flowing going on when you're running - all the thousands of miniature "rivers" delivering oxygen to your muscles and removing toxins. The air moving in and out of your lungs. The wind flowing around your body.
To etch that imagery into my head - I ran down to a portion of Jones Falls, which runs along the southern end of Falls Road here in Baltimore. Even though it's only 1/2 mile from Penn Station and next to I-83 - it's very peaceful there. I ran my last six striders in a quiet section between two mini "rapids". I thought about how the rocks and boulders were like the Newton hills - and how the water just flowed over or around the rocks easily. The rocks only gave the water a voice and texture.
Boston is of course a fun race for mental imagery - the crowds, the landmarks, the hills. This route is better known than the actual road that Phidippides traveled from Marathon to Athens all those years ago. The Boston course is full of heroes and villains - comedy and tragedy - joy and sorrow. The course itself is a celebration of life lived intensely and deliberately.
On Monday I might be in too much pain to think of running or the course in any poetic sense - but, I hope that I can at least draw some inspiration from the place - so that I can perform my best.
I've probably spent enough time analyzing the race : ) so, this will probably be my last post before Monday. Thanks to everyone for their support and good luck to everyone running on Monday!