For the past 18 months, I have been pushing towards one goal, to qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon and run in that race before I age up. In that time, I managed to qualify not once, but twice. The first time was in Hamilton where I achieved a 15 second buffer. I knew that would not be fast enough to get me in, but it helped me believe it was possible. Then, in June, I ran a marathon in 3:02:22, giving me a 2:38 buffer at the Charlevoix Marathon. Now that was a buffer I could be proud of and that I thought had a really good chance of getting in.
I wasn’t done there. I knew that time guaranteed nothing, so I kept pursuing a sub 3:00 marathon to cement my place in the 2018 Boston Marathon. It wasn’t meant to be as my last attempt to qualify went horribly sideways. 2:38. That was the buffer I would have to enter with and hope for the best.
This past Wednesday, I was informed that my best wasn’t good enough. The cutoff stood at 3:23, 45 seconds faster than my buffer. My dream would not be coming true. My goal would not be achieved. I had failed to accomplish what I set out to do.
Stop. I know what so many of you are thinking right now. You want to say things like “oh but look at how great your time was,” or “you’ve accomplished so much in a short amount of time,” or “there’s always next year.” I will grant you that all of these things are true, but none of them were my goal. My goal was to run in the 2018 Boston Marathon. It’s fairly black and white. That won’t be happening.
I cannot express enough how thankful I am for all the people who reached out to offer kind words of support. Even the words I mentioned above. I really did appreciate every comment. It means that people care and it means the world to me that people care so much. It’s very humbling the amount of people that told me their heart sank when they saw the cutoff time because they thought of me. I don’t know what I did to deserve that kind of support, but it does not go unnoticed.
The reason I say stop to those that want to offer those words of encouragement is because I think it’s ok to have failed. It means I took a shot. It means I went for it and if you always hit your mark, you’re not challenging yourself. It’s ok for it to hurt when you fall short. It’s ok to experience pain.
Whenever anything hard happens in life, we immediately want to encourage or help fix to remove the discomfort that comes from pain or failure. This applies to so many areas of life. I do it too. I think as a guy, my initial reaction is always to fix, to make the situation better. But sometimes we just need to sit in it for a moment and be ok to mourn.
Wednesday’s announcement really sucked. I took a risk by setting a goal that was time sensitive. It pushed me in ways I never thought I’d push myself. I achieved things along the way I never thought I’d achieve. Those were all wins and deserved to be celebrated. But there was one grand goal and that one fell short. So much like I celebrated the wins along the way, I mourn this failed attempt. And here’s the thing….
It doesn’t have to be made right.
Sometimes things in life don’t go your way. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault. I am not bitter, I am not angry. I feel fortunate and proud to be able to sit here and say I regret nothing. I held nothing back. There are no “had I only’s” going through my mind. I knew the game coming in, I had accepted that there would be a cutoff, and I accept the BAA’s decision. Good for all those that qualified. You absolutely earned it.
In this day and age where we demand justice for everything, where we seek to hold someone accountable or blame someone, this has been a simple reminder for me that sometimes you will do all that you can, you will do all the right things, and with no ill intent or negligence on the part of anyone else, things just don’t work out. And that’s ok.
I have had so many races where I come away wondering how I was able to achieve that time. You see, it works the other way too. I honestly believe that more often than not, if you do what is right, good things will happen. But we are owed nothing. So when good things happen, celebrate and be grateful for them. When not so good things happen, it’s ok to feel that too without always looking for someone to blame.