Yesterday I registered for the 2010 Boston Marathon. It was not something I had planned to do when I qualified at the Mount Desert Island (MDI) Marathon in October last year, and I definitely was not going to do it the following April, 2009. But the qualification was good for 2010 as well...
The reason I was not concerned about running in Boston was mainly because I have completed five marathons and understand how critically important it is to have focus and discipline during the four to six months of training leading up to it. It takes up a lot of room in one's life, and it's hard work. In fact, after finishing my second Boston in 1999, I swore them off. "Enough of this," I said. Of course I had to amend this and say, "Well, maybe when I'm fifty."
Nine years later I turned fifty and ran MDI the next day. (I even wore bib number 50. It was very celebratory.) I'd been working with a group training to run the Peak Performance Maine Marathon (PPMM) and covered the requisite training miles with them. I had trained, and I had raced well in other distances that season. So I was ready and my husband was running it as well. (He qualified and ran Boston 2009.)
But still when it was all said and done I thought, "Phew, that's out of my system. No need to do another marathon."
Here's what transpired to prompt yesterday's decision to commit to Boston with a capital "C": Again this year I worked with a group of runners participating in an eighteen-week training program leading up to the PPMM, [and Bay State, NYC, and the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.] Many were first-timers in both the full and half marathon distances. Many were working to cover the distance, to complete the race, and to ward off demons telling them they couldn't do it. They were not racing to meet a Boston-qualifying standard. That was not the goal for most, and yes, it was the goal for some. There were a few veteran marathoners who hold that goal front and center. In truth, I know most marathoners aspire to qualify for Boston. After all, it is the Grand-daddy of marathons.
I've been inspired by these runners. They possess incredible enthusiasm, commitment, and positvity toward the training process and eventual outcome. They work really hard and keep their dream alive. They have helped me realize that I've been given a gift, a present of sorts. I have a green light to go to Boston and cover 26.2 miles with 25,000 other lucky runners. As the saying goes, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. In other words, don't be ungrateful when you receive a gift.
I am not a gifted runner. Don't get me wrong. I am lucky to be an older woman when it comes to Boston qualifying standards. Women have a full half of an hour on men's standards. That's a lot. And yes, I earn it by training properly. Most importantly though, is I realize that I have been given an opportunity to do something special. It's a gift.
I also have to admit I've been in a bit of a funk and needed a serious goal. I raced the Beach to Beacon 10K in early August and then did not race again until September 26, a solid eight weeks. That is uncharacteristic of me and indicative of burn-out, perhaps. Admittedly I became super busy with preparing for the marathon and all that that entailed. Something had to give. Now I'm ready to buckle down again. I have ample time to get my head wrapped around the effort, to prepare psychologically; and I also have a good reason to run, to physically prepare my body.
I've surprised my husband with my decision, but I feel grounded about it. It makes perfect sense to me - new runners have inspired me and preparing for a marathon legitimizes what I do. It seems very purposeful; and it's a sense of purpose, a goal, which I have needed.