My Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Stuff

February 18, 2011
(for those of you who care and know what I'm even talking about...)

I just had a realization.

I'm done with my whole Boston Marathon dream. I don't think I'd wear the jacket anyway.

It's not that I don't think I can qualify under the new rolling admission standards and the 3:35 age group cutoff--because I know I'm capable of all of that. I was a great runner in high school, I can still run a sub-six mile without much trouble, and I'm lucky to have a VO2 max that allows me to gain fitness quickly.

I know, in my heart of hearts that I'm capable of qualifying for Boston--I just haven't had my day.

But you know what? The new rolling admission system is already stressing me out, and I haven't even run a qualifying race yet. I sat up last night doing math over and over and over in my head...

"....Okay, so if I go ten minutes under the 3:40, what's the probability that I'll get in? What if I go five minutes under? What's the pace for a 3:35? What'll happen to the BAA website when registration opens up to all qualifiers?"

If it sounds complicated, that's because it is. And let me tell you, the last thing I need is one more complicating factor in my life.

Do I think the BAA is wrong for the way they're approaching registration? Of course not. They own the race, and they can do whatever they want with it. Honestly, if they required that you walk across the finish line on your hands to be able to register, I guess I'd just start practicing my gymnastics skills if I wanted it badly enough.

I've seen a lot of comments from enthusiastic, well-attituded runners that say things like, "Well, just another reason to train harder!" and "I guess I'll have to get faster!"

You won't hear that from me.

If I train harder, it's because I want to train harder--not because the BAA has cornered me into making that choice.

If I get faster, it's only because I've been working harder for my own sense of self-satisfaction--not because of an outside standard that's been placed on me and my community.

My motivation to run comes from somewhere in my gut, not from the BAA. From this point forward, you'll never hear me say that I'm trying to qualify for Boston--I'm just trying to run my race. I'm trying to reach my personal potential. I'm trying as hard as I possibly can to do what I love, and to do it well.

From this point on, I'll never feel disappointed when I cross a marathon finish line again, because damn it, I just finished a marathon. There should never be any shame in that. And these days, even with a respectable "BQ," there's not guarantee that you'll get to run the race anyway.

Now don't get me wrong here, if I happen to meet the Boston qualifying standard, you bet your ass I'll try to register and run that race. But the difference is, this is no longer about being good enough for them, this is about being good enough for me.

I'm not planning to get a boob job because the media tells me I should, and I'm not about to take on a different career just because my paycheck seems wimpy compared to other peoples'. I'll never convert to a different religion that the masses accept as more mainstream, and you can mark my words right now--I'm not gonna start training harder because the bar's been raised by a race organizer.

I want to get faster. There's nothing, nothing, that beats of feeling of running quickly and with ease for mile after mile after mile. But I want to get faster for me, not for the jacket--and believe me, up until today, I really, really, realllllly wanted that jacket.

So I'll run, and I'll try to run well. I'll run the races I feel like running, when I feel like running them. I'll have babies when I want more babies--not after I finally get to run Boston. And I'll celebrate every single marathon finish like, well, like I just finished a marathon.

Thank you for the changes, BAA. You've finally set me free. I mean that.

What else can I say? The sun is shining and it's a great day for a fast ten miler.

P.S. There's another new post down there.
P.P.S. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm bagging any BQers out there. I think you're all incredible, and I'm jealous no matter what I say! This is about my feelings only...nothing to do with anyone else!


Anonymous said...

You go, Amy! Right on. I think the best line of the whole post is: "But the difference is, this is no longer about being good enough for them, this is about being good enough for me."

That's exactly what my focus has been the last year or two - my own happy space (career, body image/weight, writing style, everything), not the one someone else says is ideal.

Run on, sistah! I'll be catching up with you in miles soon!

Turi Becker said...

Very well put. Best commentary on the Boston brouhaha I've heard.

Bahston Beans said...

Psst. A little secret. BAA marathon volunteers get jackets. Sure they're a little different (aka, less cool) but it's still a jacket!

Jo said...

But for what it's worth, I'm sure you'll qualify and run it at some point. You're too good and too fast not to wear that jacket.
In the meantime, keep on running for all the right reasons.

Laura said...

Go you!

My attitude toward the whole qualification thing was, I can't qualify now, so making it faster isn't going to help... but darn it, if I DID ever manage to qualify, I'd be pretty upset if I still couldn't register. I think this system is pretty darn good. You know EXACTLY how fast you need to be to be guaranteed an entry (meaning whatever time it requires to register on opening day), and you also know how much leeway you have to still likely be able to enter.

Nurse Becky said...

Amy...rock on! I am a newer...aka slower...runner and have resigned myself to the fact that I will not by able to get close to qualifying for Boston until I am roughly 70. Give or take. But, I was caught up in the craziness of how "elite" you were if you ever ran it. Which, people who run it are in my mind. That was until I found out that the last registration sold out in a few hours, if I recall. Holy Crap, that's a lot of really fast runners.

So, I'm with for you, still try, but don't measure your success by whether you make it or not. You are a success for just doing it, which puts you ahead of most of the world already!

Pam @ said...


funderson said...

This is the best "AAAAG Boston changed a bunch of stuff!!!" post yet.

paige said...

especially the part about more babies.
i think you'll run (& run well) the BM. (sharing initials with bowel movement pretty much says it's your race...)
My .02c...

kristen said...

Psst- the jackets are kinda ugly anyway...and they're expensive. (even if they do mean something)

Chantel said...

This is such a great post! Very inspiring. Way to go Amy! And, like everyone else says, I'm sure you'll get that jacket someday anyway :-)

Thanks for sharing your revelation with us. I'm not a runner, but it was something I needed to hear/read.

Mel said...

You really are my inspiration to run. I've lost 52lbs so far and love my elliptical machine to death but come spring I'm putting my feet on REAL ground and going to run. What the hell has happened to me? I WANT to run? :P

Joy Through Cooking said...

I love it. I need to save this link somewhere to remind me that running is about self-motivation, that what is great about our chosen sport is that success and goals come from WITHIN. So when I start training for my next marathon... while Im sure that coincidentally, I will be aiming for ohhhh 3:35 or faster... that getting that BQ isnt the be-all-end-all. Running a freakin marathon is awesome enough! Not to mention the inspiration that such achievement is to your kids, and my soon-to-be :) Thanks! I love your running posts, not surprisingly we share similar outlooks.

Grandma said...

Bring back the Members Only jacket and put whatever letters you want on the back and rock it as your own!

Reluctant Runner said...

Well said! Thanks.