I may not be “Boston Qualified”, but I am “Boston Strong”!
A “Finish Time” can only tell you so much. In fact, a finish time can really only tell you one thing – how long it took a person to get from point A to point B.
The story that those numbers can not relay is known only to the runners, themselves – and that story can be good or bad but, oftentimes, it’s a combination of both.
So let me tell you a little bit about what my Boston Marathon Finish Time does not tell you.
According to the B.A.A. I ran my Boston Marathon today in 5:56:09.
“5:56:09” does not tell you that, for the first time in my life, my struggle was different.
What used to be a mental challenge, this time, was purely physical. This is not to say that I did not become emotional at times, because I did – but never once did I harbor any doubts. You see, while I have “always and no matter what” shown up and run my race, this time I arrived at that Start Line injured, undertrained, inexperienced for the course, and ignorant of its navigational challenges – yet, mentally, I was strong.
It’s a different kind of struggle when, for the very first time, your battle is not inside your own mind – wondering if you can, worrying that you can’t; contemplating and calculating paces and split times, wrestling with fear and doubt – those self-sabotaging thoughts that tell us we’re not good enough, strong enough, fast enough, or worthy enough to even be here.
It’s a different kind of struggle when the pain you feel is not from the depletion of glycogen or the build up of lactic acid, fatiguing your muscles and turning your legs to stone – but from the obvious lack of recovery time, following a significant and painful injury.
It’s a different kind of struggle when the battle you’re fighting is deep within your bones, resonating outward into every fiber of your physical being, crying out with absolute clarity that your body has not yet healed and is completely unprepared for this enormous effort which you are demanding of it today.
It’s a different kind of struggle when, once upon a time, the choice was yours – you could have run forever at this slow of a pace, or you could have chosen to shift gears and crank out a much more “respectable” marathon race pace.
It’s a different kind of struggle when, physically speaking, the 10K mark feels more like the 10th mile, and the 10th mile feels like the 20 – and then, even though you’ve just run 20 miles, it’s still so far away from that Finish Line.
It’s a different kind of struggle when your friends and family text you all along the way, asking how you’re feeling and you reply with absolute honesty:
“Physically: ☠️. Mentally: 💯”.
When what you feel is purely physical stress, it becomes a personal testament as to how much pain you can truly bear in order to succeed in fulfilling your dream.
“When you sign up for a marathon, you’re volunteering to find out: How much hurt can I put myself through? – Be proud of the answer.”
– Des Linden
The 26.2 mile stretch of road from Hopkinton to Boston is long, but never once did I ever feel truly “alone” – and that is something I never will forget.
I’ve come so very far in my “Chasing Boston” journey; I’ve changed a lot along the way.
I no longer feel the need to receive an official invite or any other external validation to prove that I am “worthy” of this. I didn’t do this for the jacket or the medal – those things are just an added bonus. For me, this dream was personal – and, while it didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought that it would, I can honestly say, I have no regrets. In fact, I’ve spent so many years and so many races “Chasing Boston”, I almost forgot what it was like to look around and actually SEE! I almost forgot how good it feels to be able to do this simply for “the love of the run”!
Today, I ran the race that has always meant so much to me. I redefined, for myself, what it means to be “Boston Strong” – and I proved, to myself, that I am so much “more” than I’ve ever believed myself to be.
As this incredible day comes to a close and I am finally able to put my dream to rest, I reaffirm to myself once more that, while I may not be “Boston Qualified”, I am most definitely “Boston Strong”!