After making several failed attempts to qualify for Boston, I surrendered to the idea that I’m not fast enough. I turned to ultra marathons solely, in 2009, as a way to pacify my running addiction and discovered running in a new light. There is less pressure in trail running and everything is more relaxed.
In the years following my decision to retire from qualifying for Boston, my admiration for those that do remain. It is the badge of honor as a runner to qualify for Boston. In 2010, the organizers, Boston Athletic Association, made it more difficult to qualify because so many people do. My qualifying time went from 3:45, back to 3:40. This made it nearly impossible for me to qualify, never mind my lack of desire. I’ve moved on. I told myself and others, “I have way more fun as an trail ultra runner now than I ever did chasing Boston as a road runner.”
Then this weekend happened. I was so excited to go to Boston as a member of the greater running industry, to build connections and grow ULTRA University. So many friends were there to run and I would be able to experience it as a spectator as well. I got the opportunity to sit in a room and learn from 4 elite runners who were pegged to win. I saw many unexpecting friends at the expo. I discovered new products, Icy Feet (a revolutionary way to ice your feet) and met the founder of the company, Craig Snyder. I even met one of my running heroines, Katherine Switzer, the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon, in 1967, when women were not allowed and paved the way for women to be in the sport.
As Sunday, before the marathon, unfolded, I had an opportunity to run the marathon with a friend’s number. Initially the thought was appealing but I decided it wouldn’t be right. Any number of things could happen and if I end up needing medical attention, my friend and I could be disqualified to run for life. I feel a certain respect for the race and the work it takes to qualify. I didn’t want to waiver from it.
The morning of the marathon I gleefully ran around Boston with 3 friends. It was magnificent to be in this historic city, rich in the American spirit. I found myself daydreaming along the Charles River, “I’m going to qualify and run next year.” My fire to earn the BQ (Boston Qualify) rekindled. I was there in the center of my running universe, flying high. I felt the lightness of my feet as I dreamed of being fast enough again.
After a joyful morning, running around the Charles River, taking pictures around Boston, and cheering on runners at mile 22, where we saw most of our friends run by, we headed back to the finish line. As we ascended into the street level from the Train Station on Broyleson, we saw mobs of people lined 10-15 deep on the sidewalk cheering on runners as they finish the last 3 blocks of the marathon. We pushed our way through half a block of madness before I looked at my friend and said to her, “Let’s go back to the hotel.” We were staying at the Marriot Copley Square just two blocks from the finish line. At the same time we were walking into the hotel from a sky bridge, we could see the same mob of people on the street, running as fast as they could away from the finish line area. We ran outside to see what happened. People were screaming, “A building is burning!” “A bomb went off!”
I was reminded of something as I walked the streets of Boston, full of armed guards and Federal vehicles, Monday evening. Heaven as we know it can only change if we allow it to. We all have the ability to create our world. Let us empower ourselves with the burning energy everyday to qualify to run The Boston Marathon of our life. No one will scare us and take this away. No way. No how.
As I grieve for innocence lost at every marathon I will participate in whether a runner, supporter or spectator, I embrace myself and those that love me more often. I know that I am part of a sport where everyone wins. We are all on the same team. We are all friends that cheer on friends for that moment in time. There are no enemies or stranger.
I just signed up to do something I turned my cheek on years ago, Rock and Roll Marathon San Diego on June 2, 2013. My qualifying time to run The Boston Marathon in 2014 is 3:40. This is my way of continuing to support and create a universe where we are all winners. I plan to continue my race plans for 2014, as of now.
April 27, Leona Divide 50K
May 6-7, Badwater Salton Sea (waiting with bated breath for my invitation from AdventureCORPS, any minute now I’m expecting the email)
July 27, Vineman Triathlon, 140.6M
Sep 28, Patagonian ULTRA Marathon, 63K
Nov 16-17, Chimera 100M
In light of the events that followed Monday, April 15, 2013 at 2:10pm ET, I urge you to rekindle something in your life that you have the burning desire to do. It doesn’t have to be running. It could be cycling, tennis, playing the piano, taking voice lessons, reading more, or travel to exotic places. Appreciate every bit of what’s happening now. Life is constantly changing and there is no way to know what will happen next.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU AND RECOGNITION TO ALL THE VOLUNTEERS AT THE BOSTON MARATHON, ALL THE PUBLIC SERVICE PEOPLE THAT HELPED IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE BOMBS AND THE GREAT ORGANIZATION KNOWN AS THE BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION FOR THEIR AMAZING WORK AT KEEPING THE TRAGEDY TO A MINIMUM.