Friday, October 23, 2009

Reflecting on the BQ, and the next chapter

I can't lie, I've been on cloud nine over the past week. I don't think about it too much during the day, but every time I've gone out on a run since last Sunday when I qualified for Boston, there have been moments when I'm just beaming, smiling, and wanting to pump my fists. Other times, i've been in near tears, choked up. My stride goes fluid and I want to start knocking off a marathon-pace run, even for a few minutes.

I've been chasing a BQ for years now. Last year, in chasing that goal, I failed and every friend of mine, particularly those who have qualified, have told me it'll be all the more sweeter when I do. I've been logging my mileage for about five years and in that time, i've run more than 8,000 miles (13,000K). I'm probably up to 50 road races since 2005, about to run my eight marathon in a few days, and there's no sign that I'm losing any interest in this running thing.

After work a few days ago, I was running along the waterfront and bumped into Lee during a recovery five miler. Lee was that friend who was on the course last Sunday cheering me on. We've bumped into each other on the trails more than a few times, shared a few runs, a few beers, and so we debriefed each other.

Lee's also raced Boston a few times -- he also took a long path to qualifying for it before he got a major running breakthrough, he's chasing pretty fast time, doing a 3:03 in Chicago a few weeks ago.

I talked about how strong I felt during the BQ marathon. Just like countless other great races, I felt fine from start to end, but this is the marathon distance, the last 6 miles is supposed to be cruel.

"I would have bet $10,000 you'd get your BQ," Lee told me and I still don't agree, i respect that distance too much to be cocky.

So reflecting on the race is more than reliving three hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds of my perfect race. It was about that 8000 miles, those winter nights when I get the trail to myself and sweltering middday runs in July. It was about staring at the Advanced Marathon 18-week program and wondering how the hell I'd get a 70 mile week in. It was about foregoing sleeping in on Sundays for the past three years basically. It was about urging my body to do tempo and pace work when I dreaded it so well.

It was also remembering the great, the first time I went sub 20 minutes in the 5K, or when i lowered by half marathon mark by 4 minutes (1:31!) a few years ago, or those simple first day of spring runs when you shed your winter layers to feel the air. Or just the feeling of rushing home from work so i could change into my runners to get out the door in a few minutes.

BQ was that goal that was on top of my running life, but not the point of it. It wasn't the definition, but it also was a tough goal that made me work harder. Getting to this point made me a better runner.

I told Lee that somehow I feel like I'm entering a new chapter in my running life. He admitted that when he qualified for Boston years ago, he became a more serious runner. I don't think i'm going to get any more serious, but I'll look at it differently. I want a victory lap of a year in 2010. I want to chase faster times. I want to be a pace bunny one day. And I want to turn my BQ into a confirmed registration so I can finish booking a hotel and flight for a trip to Beantown next April.

As I was walking around the Marine Corps Marathon expo this afternoon, I passed by the Clif pacing team area. Two tall, slim and buff looking dudes (obviously fitter than little old me, right?) walked by the table, saw that there was a piece of paper propped up near the buckets of pacer bands.

It was the list of qualifying times needed to get into Boston. I'm sure you know it well.

"Dude, i gotta do a 3:10 to get into Boston?" one said to the other. They looked a little stunned and the mystique of that marathon grew just a little. Me, I turned, looked at these guys, gave them the once over, reflected, then smiled.


Trevor said...

A great post. Your pride and satisfaction shines throughout it. Good luck in DC this weekend.

Marlene said...

Agreed - great post. Anything can happen in a marathon regardless of how it "should" go. It's a beautiful thing to see everything come together - a good day, strong training and plenty of heart.

Keep smiling and wear your BQ proudly! I need to live vicariously through runners like you. :)

Marky Mark said...

What Marlene said sums it up perfectly!

Btw if they don't find those official race photos I'm going to have a major tantrum...