The Boston Marathon - My Elusive Race
If you would rather listen to this episode click the link below, I also throw in some extra content and the end of the episode:
For me the Boston Marathon is beginning to feel like an elusive race. Running in the Boston Marathon is something that is difficult to for many to achieve. The first step is to run a marathon, which is difficult in itself. Next, you have to run that marathon at a specific time, which even if you are very prepared, race day can throw you a curveballs like bad weather or illness. Once you achieved a Boston Qualifying time, you may not even get to run the race at all. The Boston Marathon has become so popular, there are more runners who qualify each year than spots available in their age group. When registration opens, the runners with the fastest times get to register first, then it moves down to the slower runners until the slots are filled. If you get through all of these steps and receive an e-mail from the Boston Athletics Association (B.A.A) saying you have been, "Accepted in the Boston Marathon," it feels like you already crossed a major finish line.
Today I was suppose to be flying out for my highly anticipated, first Boston Marathon. Instead, like most of the world, I am adhering to a "shelter in place" order and my mind and heart are often filled with worry and anxiety. For now, the B.A.A has postponed the 2020 Boston Marathon until September 14, 2020. A missed race seems trivial right now, yet I still can't help but have a few moments of feeling sad that I am able to run the Boston Marathon this coming Patriot's Day.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time my goal to run the Boston Marathon has been postponed. I qualified for Boston once before, but chose not go run in the Boston Marathon.
The first time I qualified was during my first marathon in November 2012. Going into that marathon training cycle, my only goal was to finish the 26.2 miles. At that time, I ran much lower mileage than I do now. Back then, a long run for me was anything above 6 miles and my weekly mileage was around 25 miles a week. I increased my mileage a fair amount while getting ready for the marathon, but I was only running 3-4 days a week and doing 2 days of cross training. Even with low volume training, I was progressing well, especially in my long runs. One day my friend was doing a long run with me and she commented that we had run 17 miles at the Boston Marathon qualifying pace for our age group. I had never even thought to look up what the Boston Marathon qualifying time was because I believed I was WAY too slow to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In my mind the Boston Marathon was an event for fast runners and I did not think of myself as a fast runner. I was just worried about being able to cover the distance of the marathon. After she mentioned qualifying for Boston, I got curious and looked up the times for myself and I realized I did have a chance to qualify. Having a time goal made me excited, but it also made me nervous. I didn't want to fail, but I also realized, if I did fail, who cares? My family would still love me, I could always run another marathon, so why not go for it?
In retrospect my goal was a little ambitious and I’m glad I was so naïve. I had not completed very many workouts at marathon pace or put much specific effort into this goal. What I had going for me, was that the pace I needed to run was coming naturally, not something I was forcing. On race day, I set off to hold an 8:10 per mile pace, which is what I need to hit the 3:35:00 Boston Qualifying time. My IT band flared up about half way through the race, which had not happened during training. I was too scared to stop because I thought I may not start again, so I just kept pushing through. I ended up finishing the marathon in about 3:28:?? well under the time I needed; I was super excited! I qualified to run the 2014 Boston Marathon!
Here is a post race photo... cell phone camera have come a long way!
This past Wednesday was 7th anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. To say that day was a heartbreaking for the city of Boston and the running community, is an understatement. I, like so many others, felt for all the victims and those impacted by the terrible events that took place, but it also fueled my desire to go participate in the race.
For multiple reasons, I ultimately decided not to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon. It ultimately came down to putting my family responsibilities before running, which is always a good choice in my opinion. At the time, I thought, "In a year or two, I will just re-qualifying and go then." But that is not how things played out. My and my family’s life continued to move at what felt like a blistering fast pace over the next few years. We moved, did DIY home renovation, changed careers, and expanded our family. I ran a number of half marathons during that time and even a 50k, but training for a fast marathon never made it to the top of my priority list.
In the summer of 2018, my sister asked me if I would run the Philadelphia Marathon with her that November. I was eighteen months postpartum with my youngest son and I had not been running very consistently, but I was "itching" to get back into a solid training routine. My husband encouraged me to train for the marathon and he also told me if I qualified for Boston again, he would make sure I went to the Boston Marathon this time. That goal got me excited! I started training and running with a purpose everyday: get that BQ again.
My second marathon training cycle was a lot different than my first. I was a more experienced runner, but I was pretty out of shape. I had not been able to run much during my second pregnancy and had been coming back to running VERY slowly postpartum. I made the classic mistake of increasing my mileage and intensity at the same time and too quickly. About 4 weeks before the Philadelphia Marathon, an awful pain on the inside of my left knee, stopped me in my tracks during a training run. I officially had my first running injury and I had to take a week off from running. I was able to finish the last 3 weeks of training with easy runs, but I had no idea if I would be able to get the 3:30:00 time I needed to qualify for the Boston Marathon again. In between 2012 and 2018 the B.A.A. lowered the qualifying times across all age groups.
The day of the Philadelphia Marathon, I decided to run the first half of the race on pace to get a BQ and if my knee felt good at half way point, I would try to hold that pace until to the end of the marathon. The first half I felt great and I started to feel really confident that I could get under 3:30:00. I was distracted by the great crowd support and running around a city I had never been to before. The last 10k of the race, I hit "the wall." It took every "mind game" to keep myself from falling off pace. When I crossed the finish line, I looked and felt like death, but I had got my Boston Qualifying time: 3:24:36!
Post Philadelphia Marathon:
Attempting to reqaulify for the Boston Marathon was the whole reason, I started my "MargsandMarathons" Instagram account. I didn't want to annoy my family and friends with running workouts on my personal Instagram feed if they didn't care. I had NO clue that an online running community that existed before I started my Instagram page. I have found the online running community to be incredibly supportive and encouraging 99.9% of the time. I have also learned SO much about running through it. As someone who began running as an adult, I am continually learning so much about the "running world" through what others share. It has also motivated and inspired me to chase goals I would have never even considered. like breaking 3 hours in the marathon. I am thankful for it and have a lot of fun with it.
Running is something I enjoy doing everyday and I train hard because I love it and it makes me happy. Races are just a perk. I hope I will be able to run the Boston Marathon in September, but there are rumors that fall marathons may not take place. I do not know whether or not this is true, but I do know if I ever get to run the Boston Marathon, I am going to appreciate ever step!