Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thoughts on Boston

Today was the day to sign up for the 2015 Boston Marathon. Well, more accurately, today was my day. Sign-ups for the race began on Monday, but that was for people who had beaten the qualifying time by 20 minutes or more. Today, registration opened to anyone who had beaten the qualifying time by 10 minutes or more. That's me.

I actually qualified for the Boston Marathon several years ago, back in 2009, when I ran my first-ever marathon in Pittsburgh. However, at that time, I didn't know much about running: the big names, the big races, the right way to prepare. I found a training guide online and followed it. . . . Well, I followed the long run schedule. Everything else was kind of a crapshoot. Which makes it that much more surprising that I managed to remain uninjured and run a time that qualified me for Boston.

However, when I say I didn't know anything about running, I really didn't know anything--including how registration for the Boston Marathon works. Somehow, I naively assumed that so long as I signed up before the registration period ended, I'd be guaranteed a spot. I'm not too sure where I got that idea from, but as you might expect, it didn't pan out.

Five years later, in November of last year, I ran the New York City Marathon. Once again, I finished in a time that would qualify me to sign up for Boston, and this time, I wasn't going to miss my opportunity. People train for years to run a Boston qualifying (or BQ) time, and here I was, lucky enough to qualify twice.

So I did it. Today I signed up for Boston 2015. Apparently, signing up doesn't mean that I'll definitely be running the race--everyone has to wait a week or two to find out whether we've made it into the final pool of registrants--but my immediate reaction was to post to Facebook. At long last, I was going to run this race!

Then I stopped myself. People train for years to run a BQ time. Was posting a celebratory, "Registered for Boston 2015!" bragging? Would it make someone else feel bad? Why did I want to post it at all? Okay, it would probably earn me a few pats on the back a few "thumbs ups." But I didn't run the race yet. Heck, I technically wasn't even on the roster. And frankly, signing up for Boston isn't something I should be celebrating. Qualifying for this marathon was never an overt goal of mine; it has simply been one happy side effect of achieving other goals: running my first marathon in Pittsburgh without stopping (mantra: don't stop) and then running my second marathon in NYC . . . faster (mantra: no excuses). Yes, I'm very excited to have the "Boston Experience" just like I was excited to have the "NYC Experience." But for me, it's not much more than that: just an experience to be had. Whatever time I run in Chicago next month means a heck of a lot more to me than registering for any race, no matter iconic.

So I decided I'll save my Facebook posts for October . . . after I run Chicago. And if anyone thinks that's bragging . . . well I sure hope I'll have something worth bragging about.

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