I've taken this journey before. Along this very same time frame, and towards this very same goal: a Boston Qualifying time at the Jack and Jill Marathon in late July. I feel like I still need to take us back to the original beginning of the journey where we are now, because there was such a significant mindset shift for me during last year's training. Some of you will have heard this story a time or two from me, but if you haven't yet, please take some time to read it, and hopefully find some inspiration from it for your own life (running or not).
From April 2017:
Let's start back a few months ago. Michelle and I had been running partners for a few months. I asked her on our first running date late last summer because selfishly I wanted to get faster and I knew that having to keep up with her would help me. Turns out I also really like her company. She did most of the talking on these runs, while I just tried to keep her stride and remember to breathe.
Flash forward a few months and we're traveling to New Mexico together to run a half. I hang with Michelle a little longer on each training run together, and sometimes manage to tell a story or two. We finish out race seasons at home in Tulsa and take a small break in training. Things are just rolling along smoothly until the Boston bug gets Michelle. With one strong marathon under her belt, she tells me she's ready to try for Boston.
Here's what I'm thinking: I support you. I am all for you running another marathon to try to qualify for Boston. Let's find one and I'll run the half.
Long story short, we're sitting at Hi, Juice (RIP), I'm drinking a Hi, Clarity and upon looking at her chosen marathon, find out the half option is already sold out (of course it is, all the smart kids pick that distance). So, just like that I'm signed up for marathon number 4.
All I can think about is the finish line of my 3rd 26.2 in Austin and immediately telling everyone I encountered to never let me sign up for another one again. (Y'all still failed miserably). But I'm in. I'll train the miles, and travel to be a good supportive coach and friend of Michelle's efforts.
At this point in the process, I had absolutely zero intention of attempting to qualify for Boston with her. My fastest marathon was a 4:26 something and I would have to shave close to an hour off of it to get 3:30. I absolutely consider myself a runner, just have never thought I was that kind of a runner.
And here are a few reasons why:
1. 26.2 That's a long fucking way. In my past three marathons I feel like I've triumphantly crossed the line only one time. It was my first race and that was because I had just finished my first marathon and nothing compares to that feeling. Nothing. The next two finishes were miserable crawls across the line. So to imagine myself actually racing this distance and not just surviving it....is crazy.
2. My body. I love it. I really do. It's taken a long time to get to this point where I feel strong and confident in my abilities and my strength. Running used to be a way to try to get to a certain size or weight and it is never like that for me anymore. I don't want that to come back. And within the running training community there are all kinds of "goal weights" and "ideal weights" for distance runners. I calculated mine out just the other day with Michelle and according to this arbitrary method of simply doubling my height, I "should" weigh 138 pounds on race day. NO. Just no. I know my body and I won't ever be that size again unless we amputated an entire leg but that wouldn't be as conducive to training as just staying the size I am would be. I'm also classified in certain races as an Athena (dudes get called Clydesdales). Like what the hell racing world? Like we're some clomping large animals barreling towards the finish line. So, you can see how those two categorizations of numbers might train me for years to think that I, in this body, am not cut out for a BQ.
3. The work. I'd be lying if I didn't cite the fact that I just am not psyched up about putting in the work and dedication of not only training for another marathon, but racing it. It's mentally exhausting and physically painful. I promised myself after three to never forget that (and I have pictures of me going down stairs backwards to remind me).
So how did we end up here? A few things:
1. Michelle. How can I say no to her? Especially now that we live together. I'll be running along side her training anyway so why not just go all in for it. I will never be surrounded by running (and wine) as much as I will be in this season as her roommate, it's a perfect environment. This thought bounced around in my head for a while, but wasn't enough to convince me.
2. Boston. I went to Boston to run the first race in my Medley on Marathon weekend. I think everyone but me knew what would happen while I was there. And let me tell you I resisted as long as I could. I cried on three separate occasions and it was the third one that I finally surrendered to. First, on Friday before our Saturday 5k, we went to the expo to browse around. I made Chap sit with me and watch the course preview and teared up in the descriptions of those final miles. I remember what that feels like for sure, and to have that feeling in such an iconic race......The second time was watching Patriot's Day on Saturday night. I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the bombing. I was watching the race with some graduate school friends in the football stadium at the University of Texas. The movie took me behind the scenes of the actual events and really showed the spirit of this special city, and this special race. How could I not want to be part of that?
3. KV Switzer. But finally, it was a speech by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a bib. She told the story of that iconic race, being chased down by the race director in the early miles to try to throw her out. And all the progress that was made afterwards for women in sports because of it, and because of her. I owe it to her, and all the women before me who fought for our right to play sports. I owe it to you guys, whose dreams and goals I encourage and push every day. And I owe it to myself, to at least give it a shot. Who am I to stop me? It was this quote that got me, and as I pulled out my phone to type it down verbatim, Chap looked at me and laughed because he knew that I finally was in:
We are very good at underestimating what we're capable of.
And that was that. That has become my mantra, not just for this training but for my life. I will not be the one to hold myself back from something I don't even know I can't do. I'm all in for trying. And I know that my body is as strong as it's ever been. I have never trained for a marathon the way I've been training for my 5ks and halves and look at the progress I've made on those times. This is the year to do it.
I'm under no impression that it will be easy or that I'm guaranteed the qualifying time just because I put in the work. That's a little bit terrifying. But, I'm going to enjoy the process, the friendships that will come with it and the stories we'll get to share with everyone. Hopefully some one of you out there will be inspired to try something you thought wasn't possible for you. It just might be, and even if it's not, don't you owe it to yourself to try?