Boston blues

Today, the Boston Athletic Association announced its new policies for how one can qualify for and enter the Boston Marathon. I suppose they are fair, and the system they decided on trumps a lottery system any day, but still. The new guidelines left me feeling pretty downtrodden.

Ever since I learned that the blue jackets with yellow stripes I saw runners wearing before races were Boston Marathon jackets, I have wanted to earn one for myself. I see a person in one of those jackets and I think, “That person must be fast. Or maybe they ran the marathon for charity, but it’s more likely they are fast.”

Sure, it's brightly colored almost to the point of being tacky. But people will notice you, and they will know that you're fast!

I never even thought qualifying was a possibility for me until last spring, when I ran a 1:43 half-marathon. Based on the Runner’s World training calculator, I should have been able to run a full marathon in 3:34:43, well under the 3:40 I needed to qualify for Boston. I put in the work and arrived at the start line of the New York City Marathon in November feeling healthy and confident. The crowded, windy, and hillier-than-I-expected course drained all that confidence out of me, and I finished in 3:43:23.

I knew the changes announced today were coming even before last fall’s marathon. I figured they would lower the qualifying times, and they did. The time for my age group is now 3:35, which I think is doable. However, the changes allow the fastest people to register first. To have an advantage over any of the other qualifiers, I need to run a 3:30.

The pace per mile for a 3:30 marathon is eight minutes, almost exactly. This seems lightning-fast to me. I ran a 20K in high school, when I believed myself to be at the peak of my fitness, and I ran 8:03 mile splits. I remember thinking, I will never run a distance race at a faster pace. Then last year, when I was 10 pounds heavier and six years older, I ran the half-marathon (slightly longer than a 20K) at 7:51 mile pace.

Negative self-talk, man. It doesn’t help. I have experienced-runner friends who believe I have many faster marathons in me. I happen to work with a couple running experts, and both seem to have more confidence in my ability to improve than I have. I am relatively new to this marathon-running thing. I have many years to continue building on the work I’ve done, to continue getting faster, before I hit that point in life at which everything goes downhill. (Not excited for that!)

My body works, thank God, and I know I am physically able to put in the training for some faster marathons. What really needs exercise are my metaphorical self-confidence muscles. In the immortal words of Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, “Dreams are hopeless aspirations. In hopes of comin’ true, believe in yourself.”

Methinks I need more TLC on my running playlists.


About Meghan Loftus
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2 Responses to Boston blues

  1. Pingback: 2 Legit 2 Quit « Remember the H

  2. Pingback: The missing piece « Remember the H

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