Shalane Flanagan poses with his son Jack at the 47th Berlin Marathon 2021 on September 26, 2021 in Berlin.
Flanagan also gained support from his sponsor, Nike, and eventually embarked on a spring training program.
She revealed her plan to the world on September 20 in an Instagram post that began with, “Dear Running: It’s me again, and I fell in love with you again. Only our relationship has a different texture than it was before. There’s a depth I’ve never experienced in the past. It still feels familiar, but it’s softer. It’s lighter. It has changed for the better. There is freshness in something that I’ve been doing for over 20 years, and I think I finally know why.
“It took me retiring and not running for a year because of two reconstructive knee surgeries to realize that you are my best friend. I need you to feel myself. My best me.
Flanagan knew that her adventure could also help young girls discover the best of themselves, “to show the connection between mental and physical health and the important role athletics can play in your life.”
And, she added, “After a year and a half where so much has been taken out of the world, I thought… could this be a chance for you and me to pick up some of it? “
Flanagan ran a maximum of 80 miles per week, compared to 130 miles per week when she was a professional athlete training for the New York City Marathon. Between marathons, Flanagan only hiked 5-8 miles per day.
She paid special attention to hydration, fueling, nutrition and sleep, knowing she couldn’t take anything for granted. “The marathon is a beast,” said Flanagan.
The “Project Eclipse” officially started on September 26 in Berlin, where Flanagan recorded his best marathon time of 2:21:14 in 2014. Little entered the race as well, and they ran together for the first eight miles to ‘which Flanagan walked away and hammered home to finish in 2:38:32.
She enjoyed the camaraderie in the race, and before she knew it, she was clicking 5.40 miles. However, Flanagan had some difficulty at gas stations – elite runners have a different setup – “so I carried more fluid than I drank,” she wrote, adding that she didn’t. was not used to dodging cups on the floor.
Flanagan’s time was faster than she expected – then on October 3 she went even faster in the London Marathon, clocking 2:35:04 in the race which usually runs in April.
And this despite having to walk.
“You know such sayings like, ‘Don’t go out too hard’ or ‘Save some for the end of the race,’ Flanagan said. “Well… I didn’t do anything like that. “
She accidentally took off with sub-elite men instead of Wave 1, so she was trained at a much faster pace at the start. “I blame my competitiveness for that one,” Flanagan said.
Her fueling was also not up to her usual standards – and she paid dearly for it.
“I ended up having to stop and walk for the first time in my life in a marathon,” Flanagan told Tollefson on the podcast, “and I guess what to take away from it, however it’s okay to stop and walk, I would encourage him more because I feel like when I stop and walk, I was actually rejuvenated.
After 20-30 seconds of walking, Flanagan was able to pull himself together. “If I hadn’t (walked) I felt like I was going to tip over,” she said. “So if I ever had to give advice to beginners, if you feel like you are running out of fuel and need to stop and walk and refuel, I would highly recommend it, instead of trying to cross something … There is no shame. “
And Flanagan still finished well under 3 hours.
A week later came his biggest test, the double monster. While a lot of people don’t even run 50 miles for consecutive days, Flanagan traveled 53.2 miles with about 21.5 hours between arriving in Chicago and leaving Boston.
“I’m asking a lot of my body this weekend,” she wrote.
With his friend Mickey Wilson to help him keep up with his pace in his first Chicago marathon, Flanagan weathered a “fairly gnarly” wind.
She ran cautiously and refueled well, “because I knew as soon as the gunshot exploded I had to start recovering for Boston,” she said. “The gun explodes, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, calories, calories, calories, non-stop. “
Flanagan was so well hydrated that she had to deal with a full bladder the entire race.
After she finished she waited about 10 minutes for Wilson to come in, then hopped in a golf cart, went straight to the hotel for a “little rinse”, encountered a car a few blocks away to avoid traffic and headed for the airport to catch the plane to Boston.
Shalane Flanagan crosses the finish line of the 2021 Boston Marathon on October 11, 2021 in Boston.
Naturally, Flanagan was nervous. “I was in foreign territory and had no idea how my body was reacting,” she said. “If we’re being honest, I was ready to implode.”
But it was Flanagan’s hometown, where she grew up watching her father run the Boston Marathon and grew to love the sport. “Running has given me a future,” said the Marblehead, Massachusetts native.
Flanagan, who went on to play at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, prepared with excellent pace at Bumbalough, who finished fifth in the Boston Marathon in 2018.
The race, which historically takes place in April, begins with a fast downhill section, but Flanagan has chosen to dive into it and find a rhythm. She wanted to save something for the famous hills.
“I never felt good in the hills,” Flanagan said, “but halfway I looked (Bumbalough) and I said,“ I think I feel good. I think I have this.
His time was 2:40:34.
“Today gave me the confidence to know deeply and truly that I can achieve this,” Flanagan wrote, adding that he “feels so close I can taste it”.
Even her husband Steven, now a high school coach, was impressed. When she first told him about her plans, she said he replied, “Seriously? We just closed that door; are you really going to do it again?
“He’s like, ‘You’re going to have fun, I’m going to have fun with my athletes,'” Flanagan recalled on the podcast. He called me after Boston, ‘Oh my God, how did you do that? It was really good. This is possibly one of the most awesome things you have ever done.
Bumbalough later told Flanagan their last mile was a scorching 5:35. “I was like ‘Dang, that we should have slowed down. We should have imbibed more of it. What the hell were we doing? “
Although the Tokyo marathon scheduled for October has been postponed until next March, Flanagan has not let it interrupt its stride.
A week after Boston, she hosted her own marathon in Portland on Oct. 18, running some of her favorite roads on Sauvie Island with athletes including Olympic steeplechase silver medalist Courtney Frerichs to follow her.
Flanagan wore “Jack’s Mom” on his bib as his family and friends cheered him on.
Although she said that after Boston she had a “marathon hangover,” feeling tired and hungry, Flanagan clocked a time of 2:35:14, just 10 seconds off her best Project time. Eclipse from London.
“It’s a pleasure to watch you,” Tollefson said on the podcast. “You smile so big. People can see that you really like it, even when we know it is difficult and you are in pain at times, you still bring joy to the sport.
As Flanagan waited for the final leg of her journey, she and Elyse Kopecky released their third cookbook, “Rise & Run,” which includes recipes – such as superhero muffins – and race plans.
Kopecky will run his first marathon in New York City, making the occasion even more special for best friends.
“For every marathon, I have no preconceived idea of what’s going to happen,” said Flanagan.
On race day, she assesses temperature, wind, humidity and other factors. But Flanagan knows she won’t get the tunnel vision she had when she was trying to win in New York.
She wants to be able to “read the awesome signs people are doing, (hear) what they are shouting on the side of the road and recognize it or wave them or a high five.”
When Flanagan crosses that final finish line in Central Park, marking his sixth marathon in six weeks, Project Eclipse will be over.
And then, she said, “I’m going to let my competition juice run into my athletes and let them do all the kicks.”