Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boston Bound

I have heard it said that every runner has only one or two really good marathons in them, and I think I spent a goodly part of my allocation at White Rock last December. Just about as perfect a race as I could ever wish to have, I remember the absolute euphoria of crossing the finish line with a Boston qualifying time that I didn't even think a possibility at the start of the race (I punched the air as I crossed the finish line - something "reserved Brits" are not normally known for). Now bear in mind that I never ever had any real intention of actually running Boston. It was just cool to know that I'd qualified. And to surprise myself about what I could do when I really focused.

So I happily stored it away in the memory bank labeled "races where I didn't suck" and pretty much forgot about it...until last week.

When Clea reminded me that the Boston application window was still open, and there were still open slots. That set me to thinking. On the one hand, I will probably never run that qualifying time again, so this is most likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But on the other hand, simply qualifying does not guarantee a place at the start line. You see, the qualification has changed this year as preference is given to the faster runners who are granted entry based on how far under the qualifying time they ran. So as the race filled up I knew that my cutoff would be somewhat less than the 3:15:59 standard.

But there was no way of knowing how much less.

And since marathon day is during school, Nancy and the boys could not go. So I felt guilty about that. But Nancy was without hesitation 100% insistent that I shouldn't let this opportunity pass by, and she urged me to apply.

It's funny. Before I became a runner I associated Boston with an infamous serial murderer, being forced to sit through episodes of Ally McBeal, the scene of "crimes against tea" and the place where Haley Joel Osment was known to "see dead people".

But now the first thing I think about is the Boston marathon - the ultimate goal of any road running weekend warrior.

So I signed up. So did Clea.

And we both realized we really wanted to run it. So it was a weekend of suspense waiting to hear if we'd made it, and I will freely admit to checking the Boston website once or twice "just in case". We had both qualified about 3 minutes under our required times, so we knew there was a good chance we would get in.

But there was also the chance that we wouldn't.  Or one of us wouldn't.

Fortunately, we both got the email confirming that we had made it - it turns out the cutoff for my age group was exactly a minute slower than what I had run in Dallas.

So all the logistics of finding flights and hotel rooms started to kick in. I had the flights booked within 10 minutes of getting the confirmation email.

I called Nancy. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Did you make some kind of big purchase on the credit card in the last day or so?

Nancy: No, why?

Me: Because I'm seeing a charge for $xxx that's just shown up

Nancy: Can you tell what it is?

Me: Yes, it appears to be a flight reservation. To Boston.

Nancy: Have you lost your card anywhere? Do you still have it?

Me (realizing she hasn't tagged yet): I still have mine. So you didn't make that charge?

Nancy: No

Me: Oh, it must have been me then. I guess I'm going to Boston

Nancy (finally realizing): You %$^$!!! Congratulations. (laughs)

And I'm like a kid at Christmas - I've been wandering around with this goofy smile on my face ever since.

Because it's the coolest thing - I'm going to run Boston!!!

Maybe I'll even take the time to sip a cup of tea at the harbor.

For Queen and Country you know :-)


Jeff Farrell said...

Our friend Rick G was such a low key guy that he saw a friend a few days after one of his Austin Marathons and was "congratulated" on qualifying for Boston. He had no idea......and he ran it!!


K said...

Oh, Mark! I am so excited for you! And I am from that neck of the woods, so you know a few good things that have come out of Boston! LOL

Happy Training and I pray that more than anything, you can enjoy the journey and the race, and even a cup of tea! For the Queen of course!

Desert Dirt said...

Hi Mark, I read your posts from time to time. Congrats on your entry. The wild thing about Boston is that lining up and running it will key you up more than qualifying. I'm envious. Best of luck in your training.