The Boston Decision: what it *might* mean for me

Running the Boston Marathon is a dream for a lot of runners, and I am no exception.  For 11 of the past 12 years of my life though, it was a dream that I can honestly say I didn’t believe would ever come true.  Up until a little less than a year ago, I was a 4:35 marathoner who thought that one day I could become a 4:00 marathoner at best.  I would joke that if I was able to hang onto that fitness and not get any slower with age, maybe when I was in my 60s I could qualify for Boston.

This past year that kind of thinking went out the window for me.  I began to work harder than I ever had in my life.  I made big changes to the way I approached my training and racing.  I started to BELIEVE in myself.  I wanted to know what I was capable of and I found out that I was made of way more than I ever even would have imagined possible.

At the beginning of last summer, I started training for the Marine Corps Marathon.  Going into the training cycle I believed that with a lot of hard work and dedication I could lower my marathon time down to 4 hours.  This would have been a 35 minute PR for me, and was a bold goal to set.  I knew it was ballsy, but I am telling you I believed it right down to my very core.  As I trained though I discovered that I was capable of a faster marathon than even 4 hours.  My times in every distance were dropping drastically.  My fitness and my confidence were improving tremendously.  As the summer came to a close, I believed I could make my Boston dream a reality.

In order to qualify for the 2012 Boston Marathon, I had to run a 3:45:59 by September 12, 2011.  After that date I would have to wait another year for the 2013 Boston Marathon, and my qualifying time would be made harder by almost 6 whole minutes – I would have to run a 3:39:59 at MCM in October.  And qualifying for Boston doesn’t mean that you get to run Boston.  The way it works is that the people with the fastest qualifying times get in first, so the more you qualify by the better your chances are of getting a spot.  But there are no guarantees.

I made a hasty decision to try to run a 3:45 before the 2012 cut off.  Within less than a week of deciding this, I found myself at the starting line of the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2011.  I hadn’t tapered.  I hadn’t even full trained.  But I took the risk and went for it.  It was a brutal marathon.  Hot, humid, hilly and very little course support.  I was on track until about Mile 18 when I began dealing with awful stomach issues.  I crossed the Finish Line with a 25 minute PR in 4:09, but didn’t come anywhere close to achieving my BQ.  (You can read the full race report HERE).

About 6 weeks later I ran the Marine Corps Marathon.  I ran a strong race and fought to the finish, running my best marathon at the time.  In order to qualify for Boston I would need to run it in 3:40 or less.  I crossed the Finish Line in 3:41:56, with a tremendous PR but shy of my BQ by less than 2 minutes.  It was bittersweet.  I wasn’t going to give up though.  I knew I could do better.  (You can read this race report HERE).

Finishing at MCM 2011

This past winter I worked even harder.  My determination to run my fastest marathon and get that BQ was stronger than strong.  I wanted it BAD.  I wanted to do it because I believed I could do it.  I ran the Rock n Roll USA Marathon on March 17th and I DID IT.  My time was 3:34:46 and I qualified for Boston by more than 5 minutes (race report HERE).

Finishing RnR USA 2012

I was so happy to run such a strong race that day, and to get that BQ I’d been working so hard for.  But my dreams didn’t stop there.  My dreams don’t end with qualifying for Boston.  In many ways, it feels like it is just the beginning for me.  I’m excited to discover the depths of my capabilities – not only as a runner, but as a person.  I learn something about myself every time I lace up my shoes for a run, whether it’s a 5k, a tempo run or a marathon.  Every. single. time.

I want to run Boston some day, I really really do.  And I KNOW that I will.  My hope is that it will be for the 2013 race, but there simply are no guarantees about that.  When they decided to allow the 2012 runners to defer to 2013 because of the heat yesterday, I admit that at first I didn’t really understand the policy change.  It seemed to me to be a dangerous precedent they were setting for a variety of reasons – and on so many levels I still feel that way.  What will they do if this weather shows up again next year?  How do they handle people who aren’t being honest and are taking advantage of the system – deferring because they are injured, not because of the heat?  But it is what it is and I can’t worry about how it may or may not impact me personally when it comes time to sign up.  It’s possible that lives were saved yesterday because of this decision! – who can argue with that?

The fact is, I’m going to keep striving to be a better, stronger and faster runner.  I’m going to keep running marathons and I’m going to keep improving for as long as I can.  I’m going to qualify for Boston again — not because it’s about Boston but because it’s about being the best me that I can be.  Running Boston will be a dream come true for me — when the time is right.  I’m going to trust in that, and keep moving forward.

31 thoughts on “The Boston Decision: what it *might* mean for me

  1. Great post, Jessica! I am chasing my BQ and the news about the 2013 deferrals freaked me out at first, but like you, motivated me as well.

    I am so thankful to have twitter/blog runner friends like you to keep me motivated and ever pushing forward!!

  2. So inspiring! Just what I needed to hear before my next marathon!
    It always seems like we hit plateaus that we just can't break through and the next thing you know you do. That's half the fun of running!

  3. I actually surprised that so many people deferred–had it been me, I would have run unless Noah's flood happened, and I wouldn't have been at all averse to walking a lot.

    I think you will still get in with your 5-minute cushion, and by then you may have an even speedier time! I'm just sad I won't be there with you after all. :^)

  4. .I would be surprised if you don't get in with your current BQ. And that is a great attitude to have. When I qualified last year, I was heartbroken when they changed the registration so that the top people only got in. I spent months worried that I wouldn't get in. The last week was so stressful waiting for my confirmation. You will run that race and it is so worth it. 🙂

  5. Jess – not sure if you heard but it is really only 400 something people capable of deferring. Shouldn't be much of a factor at all. There was a lot of misinformation initially that led to wild rumors of thousands of runners. Hope that makes you feel a bit better!

  6. Jess – not sure if you heard but it is really only 400 something people capable of deferring. Shouldn't be much of a factor at all. There was a lot of misinformation initially that led to wild rumors of thousands of runners. Hope that makes you feel a bit better!

  7. love this, jessica. You'll get there. I hope and pray it will be 2013 for you. Honestly, part of what holds me back from putting my heart and soul into training to Boston Qualify (3:35) for me right now, is the fact that it would be so horribly disappointing to qualify and still not get in, since I mostly likely would qualify by the skin of my teeth and it would take everything I have and then some to make it happen. I'm not saying, I'm not working on getting stronger and faster…I just feel like the cost vs risk issue for the next year before I bump up to the next age group–is just hard to swallow. I'm embarrassed to say it, in a blog world of 'dreaming big'…but it is a reality. Can I say I still 'dream big' but focus on other races for now? Cop out? Maybe. Reality? Ya. You deserve to line up in Boston!!! So glad that it is in the 400s of deferment rather than the rumored 4000. phew!!!

  8. You WILL get there because you WANT IT! Look how far you've come because you put your heart into your running. I really feel that the mind is in charge and tells the body what to do. I don't see myself getting to Boston…just yet. Like you I have to BELIEVE I will some day and work towards it. You will run Boston!

  9. Incredible! I loved every part of this blog because of its inspiring nature. Congratulations on all the progress you made in a year. An HOUR off your time. Awesome. You will run Boston. I have no doubts.

  10. What an incredible improvement! Your discipline and determination are so admirable! I don't think you'll have to worry about the deferrers edging into your chances…you were pretty significantly under the qualifying time and there weren't all that many deferrers. Best of luck to you 🙂

  11. Your BQ is impressive. I want to be there someday as well. That is a goal anyway!

    I read somewhere only 400ish people did defer…now I cannot find it. Of course. I hope that out of the 400 people who did defer, that not many of them were actually BQers…remember tons of people run this race for charity as well!

  12. I think you will run Boston next year, Jessica – I thought a lot more would defer but 437 is such a small number!! And, I have no doubt that you will run sub 3:30 for your next marathon. You work so hard and I know you will only continue to improve your time.
    PS. I love your outlook on this. Some people are so upset and mad at the race directors. But, I think it was the right call – the last thing you want is to force people to run an unsafe race! Just stinks that some injured people are using it as a way out now.

  13. I am so impressed by how much you dropped your time. It is crazy how race day conditions can effect your time, isn't it? I just qualified for the first time in March… I really hope I make it in and see you there! btw- I ran Lehigh Valley as well, I agree, it was brutal.. I finished two minutes after you at 4:11. I was signed up for MCM and decided not to do it. I paced a friend that day and felt so strong.. In hindsight, I think I should have raced, however, it was an incredible experience to pace a good friend across the finish line.

  14. Thanks so much, you guys! I did read that article from RW about the true story behind the actual number of deferrals, etc. So glad they published that! I feel like there is a lot of crazy talk going on out there and some people are so upset about the decision BAA made. But the bottom line is they were trying to keep everyone safe and thankfully no lives were lost on Sunday. That sounds so crazy to say, but this past fall there were a few deaths at marathons and I think it was a responsible decision on the part of the BAA.
    Thanks all of you for your amazing support and encouragement! I cannot say enough how awesome this running community is.

  15. OH good you got the article from Runner's World. At first I think that everyone was freaking out, but they didn't know the whole story. You will definitely be in our neck of the woods next April. So exciting:)

  16. Great read ! Very interesting , I am starting to understand so much more about all this running stuff. Wow Boston certainly is a great accomplishment and I am certain you will be running it in 2013 purely from how determined you are and the dedication you have . Jessica you are such an inspiration , I could put on my running shoes right now and go run up that hill I walked this morning ! My kids are just too big now for strollers ha ha !

  17. Such an inspirational post!!! I would also love to qualify for Boston but don't think it'll ever really happen. But your post was so inspirational – maybe it will happen someday!

  18. My dear Friend from High School lost her husband Chris Gleason during the Philly Marathon in the fall. He was an elite runner – in the best shape of his life. He was going for sub 3- hrs and was on pace when he collapsed 600 m short of the finish. I respect so much the decision that was made by BAA.

    I also just LOVE this post – what an a,ssinf story of determination. You WILL run Boston girl, I know it 🙂 Loom out 2013 – here she comes :).

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