Qualifying for the Boston Marathon has always been a dream for me, and continues to be that elusive goal that is at my fingertips, but I just can’t grab it. It is like those carnival games where it looks deceivingly simple, but there seems to be some trick to it that no matter what you do, you will never win the big prize. For many years, I’ve been knocking on Boston’s door only to hear snide snickers from inside the clubhouse.
But I have never given up and still work just as hard as I ever have for that breakthrough performance that will get me in the door. I figured at some point with the qualifying times being relaxed as you get older, I would eventually make it in. I was certain I would obtain a qualifying time at the Houston Marathon this past January, but the warm weather and rain conspired to make me miss it by less than two minutes. So, I figured not a problem, I’m in great shape and the Nagano Marathon will be in April and I’ll definitely be ready to run a sub 3:20 – only to have the marathon cancelled a few weeks out due to the major Japan earthquake. What was even more frustrating was I was in the best marathon running shape of my life. I desperately searched for other races in the area that I could run instead, but came up with nothing since most marathons that are certified as Boston qualifiers were already full. With the summer season upon us, this has basically eliminated my opportunities to run a qualifying marathon in time for the 2012 race.
If that wasn’t enough, to add insult to injury, in mid-February the Boston Marathon announced that in 2013 they would be tightening up the standards by 6 minutes per age group as well as let the faster runners register first, which means that running a qualifying time no longer guarantees you a spot in the marathon. By my calculations, in order for me to have a decent shot at getting into the 2013 marathon I would need to run a sub 3:10, which would allow me to register a few days before the minimally qualified participants have an opportunity to register. So although the Boston Marathon tightened the standards by 6 minutes, I think the reality is that you will probably need to run 10 minutes faster than current standards in order to get in without biting your fingernails.
If I wasn’t a sane person, I would think someone is playing a cruel joke on me. However, I know that there are many runners out there in the same predicament – and if a goal was easy to obtain, it wouldn’t be worth pursuing, right? Initially, I was a bit disappointed with the new standards, but after having some time to think it over, I think the Boston Marathon did a pretty decent job in addressing the supply and demand issue after the 2011 registration fiasco. Everyone has an opinion on what the qualifying standards should be, but it probably isn’t worth the energy of putting too much thought to into it because the standards have been set at least until 2013 and no matter how much you fret about it, it is not going to change anytime soon.
The Boston Marathon still remains in my sights and although the goal is much more challenging, it has increased my desire to qualify and will be just that much sweater when I finally grasp that brass ring. I was listening to JFK’s going to the moon speech this past weekend and the following quote I think sums up why I continue to unrelentingly continue my pursuit to qualify for the Boson Marathon as a goal regardless of the obstacles.
“…We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too…”
Good luck out there for others pursuing a Boston Marathon qualifying time…enjoy the journey.
Click here for the new Boston Marathon qualifying times.