Thursday, September 26

Quest to Boston Part V: The Quest Continues

Wednesday I received an e-mail from the Boston Athletic Association informing me that I would not be permitted to race the Boston Marathon in 2014, despite qualifying.

For those that know me and have followed my journey to qualify, you can probably imagine how much this stings. For those that don't, here's where you can get caught up: 

Part I: Felt Great to Fail
Part II: Closure on Chicago
Part III: Third Time Not a Charm
Part IV: We Did It!

I'll be honest... I don't really want to write this post. I'm essentially forcing my hands onto the keyboard to try and make some sense of the chaos in my brain. So apologies in advance, as I'm sure you'll sense the tone throughout the next few paragraphs. I'm not trying to sound too dramatic, but this really sucks. For the first time ever I'm rolling my eyes at quotes on perseverance. So hang with me, as I try to rev-up the willpower engine again.

Here's what happened

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is one thing, being able to show up and race it is another.  The most prestigious marathon in the world can only allow so many people to run it. And at some point, demand exceeds supply. This happened a couple of years ago, so the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) beefed up qualifying standards, making each age group/gender run five minutes faster. Five minutes may not seem like a lot, but for runners pushing the envelop on a 26.2mi race, it's substantial. The intent seemed to work. But then the bombings happened this past April, and in an attempt to show their resilience, the running community flocked to marathons all vying for a slot for the 2014 Boston Marathon. So it happened again: demand surpassed supply.

Because there were more runners that qualified than slots available to run, the BAA had to determine who to let in, and who not to let in. They determined this based on how much someone beat their qualifying standard (chart below) by. As an example, a 60-year-old female who ran a 4:15:00 would get preference over a 20-year-old male who ran a 3:01:00. The female beat her standard by 10min, where the male only beat his by 4min. Right or wrong, this is the policy.

Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards

The BAA is age group/gender agnostic, meaning they don't care if you're a male 18-34 or a female 80 and older. They are going to take the fastest runners based on their qualifying standard. I qualified, meaning I ran a marathon that met the standard for my age group and gender (men, 18-34). I needed a 3:05:00, I ran a 3:03:37. But it wasn't fast enough. Baffling, isn't it? A 7:00/mi for 26.2mi wasn't good enough this year. If you click on the e-mail image above from the BAA, you'll see exactly how not fast enough I was. (15 seconds)


I'm certainly disappointed, I mean, who wouldn't be? I feel sad, angry, discouraged. Hell, I had been planning parts of my 2014 around the Boston Marathon, encouraging my friends and family to come watch. Crazy to think the next opportunity for me to run it won't be until April 2015, 19 months from now.

A friend and fellow endurance athlete said to me on the phone after I broke the news to him: "...well, you know this is all just part of some stupid plan you can't see yet, right?" It was one of those comments that made me laugh with perhaps a slight tear in the eye. It mocked a cliche, but in a way that was endearing. Perseverance quotes, inspirational videos and passages... he knew I had heard them all throughout the two years I kept trying to qualify for Boston.

But what else do you say to someone in a situation such as mine? Do you chalk it up to complete randomness? Do you say 'it is what it is' and 'keep on keeping on'? No. Not to me. You see I prefer to believe that maybe, just maybe, he's right. Maybe there is a stupid plan that I can't see just yet. And it is for that exact reason that I force myself to write this post.

...what now?

The quest continues, of course! I'll do what I've had to do for several years and have seemingly become really good at: I'll try again.

How's that for a cheesy perseverance quote?

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