BQ. Boston Qualifier. It doesn’t matter if it is abbreviated or not, when runners speak these words or initials something happens. A longing, desire, drive, whatever you want to call it, we get hungry. People have it in their ‘about me’ sections on social media. You know: runner, #STWM digital champion, Boston Qualifier. To get that qualifying time puts you in a different running class and to get in to the marathon and run it? Well don’t even get me started on the prestige! The jackets, the hype! And in Boston….a city that I LOVE!
When I ran my first marathon back in 2008, I knew of the hard to get BQ, but I just wanted to run a marathon and didn’t think anything of it. In the back of my mind I thought maybe one day, but focusing on finishing my first marathon was a priority. Fast forward to my second marathon (STWM) in 2013 and let’s just say my view changed slightly……ok a lot, I wanted it bad! I did my training, I did my yoga, and I was feeling good. October 20th 2013 I woke up and was anxious to get going. I felt amazing until about 32k when I felt pain so intense it slowed me down to a pace that I knew would not get me that BQ.
I didn’t get it that day. I crossed the finish line and I was in tears, and not the happy emotional kind, the I am devastated and absolutely crushed kind. Never mind that I had just crossed the finish line of a marathon, an amazing accomplishment on its own (and in 4:11, no less about an hour faster than my first), there was no amount of support to make me feel better. I swore I would never again run a full marathon.
I saw my chiropractor, I got massages. Even today, my piriformis on the left side is still painful and has limited my flexibility, which as a yoga teacher is a real pain in the butt (no pun intended). In addition to the piriformis pain, I found out I have weak glutes and hips which was shocking to say the least. At least I had found out why I was slowed to a halt and why my TFL (tensor fascia latae) felt like it was going to explode for the last 10k of my marathon.
More than the physical pain, I spent a long time feeling completely defeated and broken emotionally. I wanted that BQ so bad I could taste it. I was being told from some people that maybe I just shouldn’t be running the full, that maybe my “body just can’t handle it”, which just upset me more. Soooo, you’re saying I’m weak? There are people older than me running Boston every year, so I didn’t want to hear the “You know you are closer to 40” excuse anymore either, I wanted everyone to just. Stop. Talking.
In November, I joined a gym where I started doing strength training 2- 3 days a week, and with the nasty winter we had I did a lot of running on the treadmill. I ran outside as much as I could despite the cold, slush, snow, ice….I don’t think I need to go on, you were there and lived through it. The spring came and I was happy to be back as a digital champion ambassador for the TYS10K. I ran it and shaved a minute off from the previous year and I started to feel like a runner again (slightly), not at all how I felt in the fall after STWM 2013.
With talk of STWM 2014 buzzing on social media, I was being asked by many of my running friends if I was going to run it again. I honestly didn’t know, I would sigh and say “I think so”. The truth is I was constantly going back and forth in my mind. I knew I could finish a marathon, but finishing is no longer good enough. I started training with a coach (who is perfect for me!) in May, and I have started to really see what I am capable of as a runner.
Despite all these very positive changes, I was still doubting myself. It got to the point where one day I had my mind made up that I was no longer running marathons, I was going to specialize in half marathons and just keep getting faster and stronger. Then I would wake up the next morning and I would see someone had posted the “There’s a hero in all of us” STWM video from last year, and I would cry and know in my gut I wasn’t finished with it yet. This literally went on for weeks. Day to day I would be changing my mind, sometimes I would change my mind multiple times throughout the day. I finally spoke with my coach (isn’t that what coaches are for?). He said that this year was going to be different, he was going to be there helping every step of the way. To be honest I was hoping he was going to tell me flat out, “yes you should stick to half marathons”. I was still so confused. Could I really go back to run it? After what happened last year, do I have the guts and the strength to get me through it and do it with a faster time? I decided to leave it to fate. I said if CRS wants me back as a digital champion ambassador for STWM, then it is a sign that I need to run it again this year. The next day I received an email from them. It was just what I needed and just the right time. When I told my coach I was going for the full he said “I was hoping you were going to say that”.
So here we are, four months from another full marathon. Am I anxious? Yes, of course. But here’s the thing – I love running, I really do and I am proud that I am now a full-fledged #runnerd. I am getting stronger every day and I am even cross training in the pool (which I love as I used to swim 50 laps a day and I missed it). I am taking it one day at a time, one workout at a time. Want to know what my goal is this year? I’m sure you do, but this year I am keeping it under wraps 😉 I promise I will let you all know what happens on October 20th 2014.
I am going to enjoy my training, enjoy the entire process and have fun. I will run STWM with thousands of other runners and when I cross the finish line this year, if there are tears they will be tears of happiness. No matter what. I’m back!