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My Road To Boston

Today I hit “register” for the Boston Marathon…

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for four years now. I love long distance running but I don’t love “fast” long distance running. That being said, I knew I wanted to someday run the Boston Marathon. The history. The camaraderie. The grandeur.

So four years ago I set a goal to qualify.

Iknew it wouldn’t be “easy”, but I thought surely I could do it within a year or so. I signed up for four marathons my first year. That turned out to be a rookie mistake. I had ran marathons before, but never for time. I didn’t realize that if you truly train hard and race your heart out, you need a lot more recovery than a couple weeks before doing another one… nevertheless, I did improve by marathon time down from a 4:03 to a 3:41 that first year. I needed 3:35, so surely I’d do it next time…

The next year came and went and I came nowhere near beating that time. I was devastated. I was now 5 marathons into this “Boston Qualifying” quest. When would it be my turn? I trained hard, but I had nothing to show for it.

Another year passed and I ran a 3:42. I was getting close to a PR, but still so far from that elusive BQ.

Finally, this past spring I once again trained and trained, but this time I also focused hard on the mental aspect. I did a lot of reading (I loved Deena Kastor’s book, “Let Your Mind Run” – and Nicole DeBoom’s podcast with her!). I went into my goal marathon calm and focused. I had so many marathons where things went well for the first 20 miles before falling apart in the last 6. I wasn’t going to let that happen this time. I ran smooth and comfortable for the first 18 miles – picking it up for the next 4-5 miles. Around 22 is when the wheels started falling off…. I had worked so hard for this, yes things were getting extremely hard, but I could hang on, right? The heat had really crept up. There was a never ending hill at Mile 24… just keep going… Don’t fall apart now…

And I didn’t! I finished in 3 hours and 28 minutes and 33 seconds – a PR by 13 minutes and a BQ by 6-1/2 minutes. It’s funny though – in the earlier miles of the race I had envisioned crossing the finish line with this huge smile on my face to commemorate FINALLY getting that big B-Q. But no, I crossed with a look of death on my face because I was that exhausted. But you know what? Looking back on it now – that “look of death” was a look of “determination” a look of NOT GIVING UP when the going got tough! A look of strength, grit, and in some small way, joy. No, I wasn’t feeling joy at that specific moment, but as soon as I crossed the finish line and had a chance to catch my breath did I end up with the biggest smile on my face. Three and a half years of trying for this one goal and I had FINALLY done it!!!

So today, when I hit register, I remembered all of those many emotions that went into this…and thought to myself, this is what Boston is about. It’s not an elitist event that only the best of the best runners can get into. It’s about pushing those who want to run it past their limits. To have to work so hard for something makes it that much sweeter in the end.

So while I’m still waiting for my official acceptance letter, no matter what happens (since nothing is guaranteed until I actually get to that starting line!), I am so grateful for this race that motivated me to push past what I thought were my limits.

“You’re better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.”  -Ken Choulber (founder of the Leadville 100 – another bucket list race of mine!)