My Boston Marathon Goal: Let’s make it a Personal Best…But not a PR!

On April 21, I will be running my 8th Boston Marathon and my 17th marathon overall. I started in 2007, the year of the nor’easter that had the press asking if it could possibly be canceled due to the heavy wind and rain. I recall standing at the Boston Common with Matt and Laura in full Coleman camping suits protecting us from the weather and carrying an extra pair of sneakers.

Boston Marathon poster

I had never seen such torrential rain and wind in my life. On the bus to Hopkinton, one of the runners asked me about my time goal. I told him it was my first marathon and my goal was 4 hours. He said to me very politely, “you may want to consider a different strategy with this rain and wind”. He then suggested forgetting my time goal and to focus on enjoying the day. He said “high five every kid, every student at Wellesley College and BC, and take in as much energy from the crowd as possible”. I followed his advice and had a wonderful first marathon. I even forgot to turn on my stop watch at the start so I had no time reference (no Garmin back then). In the end, I finished within a few mins of my 4 hour goal and had a very memorable first marathon.


RunningForRareDiseases spot at mile 14. I am thinking this may take some time to get through given the expected number of people awaiting my arrival :-).


This year, having run Boston 6 more times; all of which being associated with the greater rare disease community and with close patient partnerships for the last 4, I have decided to follow the same advice for the 2014 Boston Marathon as I received back in 2007 regardless of what Mother Nature brings.

The truth is for me, this year, the only thing that matters is the memory and I see no time based goal delivering a more memorable experience. So when the marathon is all over and you see my time, don’t assume that a time 30-45 mins slower than what you would expect from me is the result of a bad day; it may just be a Personal Best


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5 comments on “My Boston Marathon Goal: Let’s make it a Personal Best…But not a PR!
  1. Kathy Landes says:

    Love it Phil! I just remember 2009 you giving me the same advice and it made for a powerful experience and wonderful day. Wish I was running with you guys this year. Best to you and the team!

  2. Beth S says:

    A wise man once gave me the same advice 🙂 This will be a time PR for me only because I’ve never run a marathon before, but I expect there to be lots of hugs, high fives, chatting and picture taking. I might only do this once so I’m going to enjoy the ride and take it all in. The rehearsal run was such a great preview of what’s to come, I know this will be a very special memory for me and the Sperous. I’m so thankful to the Running for Rare Diseases team for giving me this amazing opportunity!

  3. Phil says:

    Thanks for the nice comments Beth and Kathy! This marathon has become such an emotional day/weekend for me that I really don’t think I could reasonably run it any other way. I am not done racing; it will just not be in Boston :-).

  4. So true–thank you for sharing.

  5. Emma Rooney says:

    I hope Andrew is reading this! I’m in full agreement with Phil’s comments BUT Andrew Scholte I’m expecting a PR from you after all that crazy training you’ve been up to. I’ll be running with you the whole time on Marathon Monday along the Danube River here in Germany! We’ll do it together (it will just take me a little longer).

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