The day has finally arrived. Today, anyone who has met the qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon by 5 minutes or less can register for the most prestigious marathon in the world. Everyone who qualified by 5 minutes or more got to register last week and will be able to run the marathon next April. Those registering this week will have until Wednesday to register, after which registration will close. Then comes the part many consider harder than running a marathon that meets the standard, waiting.
The Boston Athletic Association will only accept the fastest runners until the race fills up. For the last 6 years, that has meant that even though you met the standard, if you didn’t beat it by at least a minute or two, you weren’t in. This is where I find myself today.
Let’s rewind a little bit though. When I first looked into the Boston Marathon, I was surprised to learn that the youngest age category spanned ages 18-34. After that, it’s about a 5 year span. The fastest qualifying standard is for males aged 18-34 where you need to run a marathon in 3:05 in order to qualify. I decided to make it my goal to qualify before I aged up. That gave me 15 months to qualify, and I had never run a marathon.
That fall I ran my first marathon and got a rude awaking as my time had me on the outside looking in by about 22 minutes. That’s a lot of ground to make up. However, I knew I could do better so I tried another marathon 6 weeks later. Nobody was more surprised than me that I came away with a BQ in that second by 15 seconds! I knew that would be enough, but now I knew I could do it.
I spent all winter and spring training to better that time. When race day came, it wasn’t in the cards for me. I struggled the last 12km and came up 12 minutes short of a BQ. Once again, I decided I would give it another push before I trained for the summer.
As I toed the line in Charlevoix, MI, I seriously questioned if I could do this. I questioned if I wanted to do this. As the race went on, I felt really good and just kept pushing. When I crossed the finish, the clock read 3:02:22. That’s a 2:38 buffer. That should be enough. I did make one more attempt last week, but that was my worst marathon ever (more on that in another post).
So here we are. The largest cutoff for the Boston Marathon ever was 2 years ago when the cutoff dropped by 2:28 seconds. In other words, it would take a record cutoff to keep me out. It probably won’t happen. It very well could happen. And you will go nuts trying to figure it out before it’s announced.
When this journey started, I thought I had a chance. However, I really thought it would take a miracle. I never thought I’d have the buffer I do. It’s unfortunate some will be left out, but you can say that for those that missed the qualifying time by 1 second as well. Missing is just as heart breaking for them, they just got to find out they missed earlier. In someways, that might be easier than to have a glimmer of hope, only to have it taken away.
One thing that can’t be taken away is that I ran 26.2 miles in 3:02:22. That’s still just unbelievable to me. Like an out of body experience or something where I question if there was major clock malfunctions that day.
Heading into registration as a “squeaker” (the 5 min and under club) feels like a rite of passage. I kinda feel you should have to experience it for your first Boston Marathon. It’s how it should be. It means it’s not easy. So even though I wanted a sub 3:00 to avoid this scenario, I’m kinda glad I’m here.
I can honestly say I have no stress. I’m honoured to be here. My goal was to run the 2018 Boston Marathon and I will know in the next couple weeks if I get that chance. If I do get in, mission accomplished. If I don’t, I gave it my all and feel like I did more than I expected. There’s nothing I can do to change my time now.
So here I am. Am I nervous? Not at all. I put everything I had into it, I did my best, I crushed that standard, and the BAA can never take that from me, whether I’m accepted or not.
Happy Week 2 of Boston Marathon registration!