Boston is 7 weeks away - it coincides with the day I'm flying straight OUT of this town because I'm bitter and childish over the fact that I cannot seem to qualify for that damn race. With that mother of a race being so close, weekend mornings are littered with runners donning fuel belts, GU packet, and compression socks. You can usually tell the newbies from the experienced runners, and you can often read how their run is going simply by observing their faces. If you head down to the Boston course, there are herds of runners, sponsored water stops, and the anxious faces of thousands of runners as they preview the course for the big day.
As I headed out for my "long run" this morning, I saw a lot of those runners. I felt that pang of jealousy that always comes when someone refers to "running Boston", and then continued to carry my non-Boston qualifying body down the road. I watched many runners wearing their coveted Boston Marathon jackets as they sauntered down the street, as I thought "someday".
I have spent so much of my running life going chasing that dragon. It has always been 3:40 or bust. Now, of course, the BAA has made qualifying even more difficult, and I must run a 3:34:59 to even be considered for registration. I think for every runner, getting to Boston is a big deal. For those of us who live around here, growing up watching it every year, being able to toe the line in Hopkinton is every kids dream. Well, every nerdy runner kids dream.
Sometime in the past year, I have loosened the grip on that dream. Definitely haven't let go of it (as exhibited by my reaction when someone speaks of the race), but have decided to not let that race define how successful I am as a runner. And this morning, during my run, I thought a lot about all of the great things that I've done as a runner; and none of them happen to include the word "Boston".
I've been able to run in gorgeous locations (Big Sur Marathon - seeing pods of whales while running along Highway 1),experienced a rockstar marathon location (LA Marathon, which goes through LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and ends in Santa Monica), and get the red carpet marathon experience (Chicago Marathon, where they literally carpeted the surface of every bridge). I've also gotten to pretend to be Rocky several times (Philly Marathon), and run along the serene Lake Champlain (Vermont City Marathon). I've had the opportunity to run a gorgeous point-to-point marathon in a most unlikely location (Twin Cities Marathon - Minneapolis to St Paul). Finally, I've been able to experience a PR in my very own state - the Bay State Marathon in Lowell, on a cold, windy, rainy October day.
I still have so much to accomplish as an athlete - I want to compete in an Ironman, run a 50 mile ultra, and do a multi-day adventure race in an awesome location. And yes, qualify for the Boston Marathon.
My surgical consultation is on Wednesday, and I'm up to 25 questions so far for the surgeon. I have a lot of hair-brained ideas brewing for the latter half of 2012, based on my proposed recovery timeline. And whether or not that includes qualifying for Boston remains to be seen. Regardless, I plan to have a lot of fun after my surgery, all while kicking some serious ass.