Today was the day I was to make my first official Boston Qualifying marathon attempt…and, for the first time in my running life, I legitimately had a chance to succeed. Once again, however, “things don’t always go as planned”, and this global pandemic that we are all facing has forced nearly all in person race events to be cancelled for the foreseeable future.
It’s hard not to feel discouraged at times. And TODAY it is hard not to mourn what could have been.
I’ve always been one to look for the bigger picture though so I am choosing to not lose heart. The world needs this time to recover and the lives and health of the people in this world are so much more important than any footrace! In time, I know that we will race again, so I am looking at this time as more of a blessing than a curse. In my eyes, I’ve just received a precious gift: a chance to have a “do-over”; an entire year to become stronger. You see, I may have had the chance to run my BQ today, but it was certainly not going to be easy. In fact, it was going to be a a hard reach and, if I succeeded, it was certainly going to be very close…perhaps TOO close. My biggest fear in the final weeks of training was that every workout was becoming a stretch. There were several workouts where I came close, but still fell short of performing according to plan. Whether the challenge was, in fact, physical or merely mental doesn’t really matter much. When it comes to qualifying for Boston, EVERY SECOND COUNTS. I would much rather miss my qualifying time by 10 minutes than 10 seconds!
So here we are, nearly five months into the 2020 race year, and every organized event (including the majority of the six world marathon majors!) have made changes to cancel and/or postpone. It is uncertain if anyone will have the opportunity to officially race this year but, rather than use this as an excuse to give it all up, to become complacent or lazy, I am choosing to take advantage of this time by taking a step back; allowing my body to recover, my mind to recharge, and teach myself to train a little bit differently. I’m taking my time and repeating the process; embracing not just the monumental, but also the minuscule moments of progress, growth, and change. Every step forward is one step closer to my goal. What a shame it would be for the restrictions upon this world to be lifted, allowing race events to resume and, at that time, find myself regressed so far that I cannot perform in a way that would make myself proud. Therefore, the only “failure” for me this year would be to stop chasing my dream altogether. Right now, the inability to “officially” race is out of my hands. But the will to keep moving forward will always be within my control.
They say that times of crisis always reveal a person’s true character. This year has been and could continue to be the most trying time for us all. But, the way I see it, there is a blessing amongst this curse. We have all been given the chance to strip life down to the basics, the necessities, the things that truly matter the most to us. For me, that will always include inner strength. My running is what cultivates that strength; my ability to persevere. In order to remain strong, mentally and physically, I must keep running. If, athletically, I accomplish nothing else in 2020, I will still consider the year to be a success if I can simply continue to become strong.