The Boston Marathon. Whether or not you know anything about running or marathons chances are you’ve heard of this race and know it’s a pretty big deal. April 15, 2013 marks the 117th running of Boston Marathon and hopefully my first!
Everyone who has ever run Boston or at least plans to has their own Boston story. My experience is probably very similar to others. A few short years ago the thought of me running in the Boston marathon sounded about as realistic as competing in the Olympics. It wasn’t going to happen. There may be others out there who are quick to jump to the assumption that they could never qualify so why even try. Don’t sell yourself short! If I have learned anything about myself and running the past few years it’s that anything is possible.
Growing up the only marathon I’d ever even heard of was the Boston Marathon. I didn’t know anyone that ever ran in it. My dad was a runner and I remember cheering for him at races. (He never ran Boston- just local road races.) I also rode my bike sometimes to accompany him while he ran. Eventually, I started running on my own. Running seemed natural and I enjoyed it. High school cross country and track led to college cross country and track. Then I got married, started having kids and took some much needed time off from competitive running. I didn’t look at it as a break from serious running. I honestly thought I was done and I was completely content with this new chapter of my life. I could easily run in the occasional 5K and that was enough for me!
|After a local 5K in 2005|
|After a local 5K in 2007|
Could I actually qualify to run the Boston Marathon?
Around the time my husband and I started training for our first half marathon in the fall of 2008 I had a change of heart. I was actually at a Christmas cookie exchange party when one of my friends mentioned that a mutual friend we had in college had recently run in a marathon- and qualified for the Boston Marathon. She was a mother of three young children (same as me at the time) and I was speechless. How did she do it? How did she have time to run and train with three small kids? How fast do you have to be to qualify? Could I ever qualify??? I had thought my “real” running days were gone but some small part inside me started to believe that there could be more…
Quick background side note- I ran one marathon on a whim when I was in college. Right after cross country season my Junior year some of my teammates, as well as my sisters and I ran in the Dallas White Rock Marathon. I did it as a bucket list type of activity, thinking I would never do one again. I figured I was in as good of running shape as I’d ever be so why not? It didn’t even worry me that I had never run more than 12 consecutive miles in my life. I wore no watch, had no fueling plan or time goal. I was in it to finish. I finished in 3:45:03 and that was good enough for me! I had no plans to ever run another marathon.
|My sisters and I after the Dallas White Rock Marathon- 1999|
So there I was, ten years later- married with three kids. After the Little Rock Marathon in the spring of 2009 I wanted to see if I too could qualify for the Boston Marathon. I met some local running moms at the gym I went to and we started running together. They were interested in qualifying for Boston too but we all figured it was a long shot. At this time the Boston qualifying standards for a woman under 35 was a 3:40. This meant that I would need to run around an 8:20 pace. Yikes! Could I actually hold that pace for 26.2 miles? I found an easy to understand schedule by Hal Higdon on the internet and stuck to it all fall. In December of 2009 I ran the Dallas White Rock Marathon again. (Same marathon- just ten years later and ironically my time was ten minutes faster!) My finish time- 3:35:21. I was Boston Bound!!
|My first time to BQ!! (Dec. ’09)|
At this time the April 2010 Boston was sold out so I planned on running in April 2011. In May 2010 we found out we were expecting baby #4 so I planned on deferring Boston until 2012. Up until this point in time everyone was able to defer one year for any reason, so long as they paid the registration fee again.
In September, 2010 I sat down to register. I was still planning to defer but I wanted to go ahead and register because I anticipated it selling out fairly quickly. I went through every part of registration and at the very end, after submitting my credit card number, t-shirt size, etc. it said, “I am aware of the new deferment policy.” What?? I read the fine print and quickly learned that there was no longer deferment allowed for any reason. I had to decide quickly whether or not to register and plan to run in April 2011 OR re-qualify all over again. Could I run a marathon 15 weeks after giving birth (via c-section)? I knew it was a long shot but when it comes to running I am not always the most rational person on the planet. After making a few panicked phone calls to John I decided to go for it.
|Nothing like registering for a marathon when you are 5 months pregnant.|
Well, obviously the crazy
15 11 week training schedule did not work out. Even though I ran throughout my pregnancy the lower mileage was definitely not what one would consider a good marathon training base. After taking a month off after Ashton was born I had to start all over again. I increased my mileage way too quickly which resulted in a sacral stress fracture. I discuss this disaster in more detail in the appropriately titled post, “How NOT to train for a marathon.” As much as I wanted to run in Boston 2012 I knew I could not safely train and qualify before registration opened in September. I knew that 2013 would be my next realistic option and I would have to be patient. Patience is a little thing you are forced to learn when you have a stress fracture.
After a few months off I was able to start walking and eventually jogging. I listened to my body and eased back into training- the right way. In January, 2012 (8 months after I was diagnosed with a stress fracture) I qualified for Boston again in the Houston Marathon with a 3:19:18. .
I knew I’d still have to wait 15 months to run Boston but in the mean time I ran a few others to keep busy.
|Little Rock Marathon- 3/12|
|D & L Heritage Marathon- 11/12|
|St. Jude Memphis Marathon- 12/12|
|Little Rock Marathon- 3/13|
It’s been a long road but I’ve learned a lot about myself and what it takes to work hard to accomplish a goal. I used to think that just qualifying for Boston would be enough. Obviously that was before I had the mindset of a long distance runner! Now, I am trying to break 3 hours in the marathon. After that, who knows what is next? That is the thing I love about this sport- the constant drive to give it your all and do your best. Running teaches so many life lessons. It requires commitment, drive, hard work, patience and faith. You learn from the good races as well as the bad ones. I think it’s important to pause along the way to appreciate the journey and the process.
So here we are just a few weeks out from Boston. It’s been a long road but I truly believe this is the time I was meant to go. I’m excited about my first Boston and hopefully there will be more to follow in the future.
|My official Boston jacket just arrived so I guess this means I am ready to go!|