As I prepare to depart tomorrow for the 114th Boston Marathon, I sit mixed with emotion. During a mandated visit to my mom during Easter Break as a youth, she knew of my interest in running and decided to take me to the starting line of the Boston Marathon. My memories of riding the bus with runners and hanging in and around the starting line of Hopkinton are seared in my memory but little did I realize at the time that you actually had to qualify to run the marathon. Qualify? The precociousness of my youth led me to believe that one day I could and would do this.
Fast forward 10 or so years when I finally decided to try my first marathon and thought, "Hey, I am going to run so fast that I will qualify for Boston on my first try." I did not respect the marathon on my first try, and she taught a cruel hard lesson. A lesson that led me to lick my chops and think maybe Boston would never be attainable.
Ten or so marathons were to follow and I was mired in mediocrity. I ran them to run them but did not do any specific workouts. Tempo? Hills? Progression Runs? Nope...give me LSD...all day. After a 3 hr 32 min effort in Detroit of 2007, I began to think that maybe, just maybe if I actually became serious and was willing to commit to doing the necessary work I might just be able to live up to that statement all those years ago in Hopkinton as a youth. In the spring of 2008, I ran a 3 hr 24 min marathon in Toledo in what could best be described as crap weather and fueled my efforts to maybe give it a whirl in Columbus in the fall. Tempo? Hills? Progression? Yes...
At Columbus, I did nothing smart. I went out to fast ( 1 hr 31 min) and than ran/walked the second half watching my watch like a school kid on the last day before summer vacation wondering if my time would run out before I had crossed the finish line. I crossed in 3 hr 9 min and 51 sec. I had my Boston BQ. Scheduling precluded me from running Boston in 2009, and really I was ok with it. I was glad I qualified, but I turned my sights to my first 100 miler. The fact that I am able to go this year is a testament to support from my family and friends who have allowed me to run and make the necessary arrangements to watch our children as Heather and I go.
During the course of the past year, I have had lots of time to do a lot of introspection and reflection on this sport that I love so much. As the talk about Boston started to whip up via social media that I frequent, I began to make sense of what running Boston means to me. So what if I qualified for Boston? Yes, I am happy with the fact that I ran a time they deemed as a qualifying time for my age group, but that is all it is...a qualifying time to run a race that demands a qualifying time. This is not to take nothing away from the history and tradition of the race, and yes, I will enjoy the experience. Does that make me a "real runner" over someone who didn't or who was able to gain entry via a charity or as an invitation? Absolutely not...fast or slow, WE as runners are out there on a daily basis putting our best foot forward. That is all we can ask for as we move down the road.