One year ago last week I was standing ankle-deep in snow on the shoulder of a road outside my hometown in upstate New York. I had enough athletic tape on to be confused for a mummy and you could smell the icy hot slathered all over my legs two towns over. I was eight miles into what was supposed to be a long training run for the Boston Marathon and neither the tape nor the cream were working. I pulled out my phone, but I didn’t call someone to come pick me up. I wrote an email to my coach saying it was time to pull the plug on the race. stopped working. Weeks later, there I was by the side of the road. Defeated.

This downer of a story has a happy ending. I took a break after that day in upstate New York. I came back to New York City and spent the next couple of weeks not thinking about running. On April 21st, I was in Hopkinton with plans to run at a more leisurely pace and just take it all in. I strapped a GoPro camera to my head and when the gun went off, I embarked on three and a half of the best hours of my life. By the time I got to Boston my palms were raw from all the high-fives and my voice was hoarse from all the screaming. More importantly, I realized something that should have been obvious all along. Over the past five years for no reason at all running had gone from being a hobby to being a major source of stress. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to get faster when no one else was. This was a wake-up call. I needed to chill the heck out if I wanted to get better.

The plan was to wait until the fall to apply my new approach, but life had other plans. My wife and I are expecting our first child this summer. Now is my chance to dedicate a season to getting into shape. Vermont City is just nine weeks away and despite feeling relaxed, I’m also feeling fit and confident. The work is hard and the work is fun. When I cross the finish line on May 24, I hope to describe the race in the same way.