There are 217 days left, not until my race but until the 2012 Boston Marathon. Tomorrow is day 1 of registration (in about 10 hours to be exact), and the first one since new qualification and registration standards have been put in place by the BAA. I actually agree with the new regulations – the fastest athletes deserve to be there the most, and the new standards aren’t by any means impossible – but today is a bittersweet day for me because I won’t be going to Boston this year. In fact, I didn’t even try.
A year ago today I BQ’d, for the first time and in the pouring sideways rain and wind. That day was a highlight of my athletic life, and one I think about not infrequently. I trained so hard and it all paid off, and my family was there to support me and cheer me to the finish despite the inclement weather. The pre-race details aren’t that memorable for me; I was nervous I’m sure but not in a memorable way, the race seemed organized, people were friendly, but nothing notable.
The run was much more memorable. The out and back course also included a 1/2 marathon race, and we all started together, so right out of the gate I felt behind. People sprinting past left and right built the pressure up inside me (go! go! go!), so I had to really rein it in; I was in it for the long haul and they, most likely, were not. The crowd thinned at the 1/2 turnaround I immediately felt like a new runner: totally in the game. Not even rain and wind could slow me down! Hello, cows! Hello, farmers! Hello, family! Hello, cyclists! Hello, more cows! This was a rural course…
I was having the best run of my life, until mile 20, at which point without warning I felt like I might not be able to take a single step further. The wind was suddenly fierce, and rather than keeping me cool the rain just started weighing me down. I ran this way for a mile or two, and watched my pace plummet. I tried to talk myself into being okay if I missed the BQ, then I’d just try again, right? I didn’t get very far into convincing when a girl who had been gaining on me slowly passed, and I knew she would be my motivation. She was the carrot that kicked me into gear; she kept checking her Garmin and if I stayed close by I’d have a chance. We rounded the track at the finish with a straight away left and 3:39 on the clock and I was too tired/excited/soaking wet/in disbelief to do anything but stand there when I crossed that line. I was going to Boston, and confirmed it a couple weeks later (registration was later last year) by waking up at 5:45am to make sure I got my spot.
The whole experience, training, racing, registering and getting there was such a thrill, and I feel disappointed that I won’t be part of it this year. Boston won’t be what keeps me training through the dark winter months, and I don’t get to participate in a race that’s more than about that day but rather what it took to get there. Granted, I have my sights set on a different prize this year, but the Boston Club is one I’m very proud of and it’s hard to have enough foresight to just settle on the fact that I’m sure I’ll be back, someday.
Morning’s registration means that this year is over for me, but I wish everyone registering the best of luck in registering, training and racing in the next 217 days. Hopefully I’ll see you there in 2013!