“The unicorn is a mythological figure that is meant to be pursued, but, in that pursuit, you never catch [it]. So it inspires you to continue to try — to race harder in the case of running — and though it may be elusive, it really is the pursuit of the unicorn that makes you better and better and better.”
– Jack Fleming, Chief Operating Officer of the Boston Athletic Association.
What is it about the Boston Marathon that has taken such a strong hold of me?
From the moment I started running again, as an adult, it infiltrated my mind and consumed my heart.
Perhaps because it was so far out of my reach? People tend to want what they can’t have, right? Or perhaps it was all about the thrill of the chase? The constant internal drive and the pushing for more? Farther, better, faster, stronger… or rather, in Bostonian terms, “Fartha’, bettah’, fastah’, strongah’!”
I’m not certain I shall ever truly know – nor will I ever know when, why, or how it turned toxic.
Just like any good habit, faithfully instilled, runs the risk of becoming an obsession, so too, my running and racing morphed into an unhealthy and rigid mindset of never being good enough. Yes, I am certain you could question me, psychoanalyze me, and eventually pinpoint the root cause of my validation issue buried deep within the formative years of my childhood and the strict, religious traumas of a cult-like upbringing. And I am certain that there is someone, somewhere, with an educational background and pay grade much higher than mine who knows and understands the psychology and sociology behind such traumas and personal, self-defeating tendencies – but none of that really matters now. I no longer feel the need to question the “WHY” or the “HOW” behind it – I’m content to simply recognize it for what it is and find a way to rise above it.
Isn’t it ironic that the same organization that initiated such stringent qualification standards is also the very same organization that is affording me this opportunity to realize my dream, despite it not being exactly as I imagined it would be?
In light of the coronavirus pandemic still going on in our world, the Boston Athletic Association has taken additional precautions in order to bring back this iconic event, live and in person, in the safest possible way. Unfortunately, for 7,000+ qualified athletes, this meant that they would, in fact, NOT be invited to run, despite them having attained the high standard of meeting and even exceeding their qualifying time. The B.A.A. undoubtedly knew that this would break a few hearts. Even the bible states it quite perfectly when it says:
“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.”
– Proverbs 13:12
In an effort to ease this heartache and to encourage and inspire people to keep running, they created the very first official “Virtual Boston Marathon”, open to the first 70,000 registrants, 18 years of age or older – no qualifying time required. Of course, there are rules – but they are few and easily able to be followed. The full 26.2 mile distance must be covered in one single, consecutive activity at any point in time between October 8 – October 10, 2021, no matter the time it takes to complete it. Run, walk, or crawl – start to finish – simply conquer that distance. The following day, on Monday, October 11th, the official 125th running of the Boston Marathon will commence.
I consider myself lucky to have been able to register for the Virtual Boston Marathon and, despite my current injuries, I am determined to close this chapter of my life by running this event Live, in person, on the actual Boston Marathon course, one month from today.
Training for this event with the fractures in my back has not been easy – in fact, I’m not quite sure exactly how I am going to make it through 26.2 miles when currently a 10K run benches me for nearly 2 – 3 days afterwards with pain, burning, and multiple cramps and spasms. That being said, I know that I will find my way through – I always do. And isn’t that what being “Boston Strong” is all about?