Those are pretty big shoes to fill. To be honest, for years I never even considered the possibility of a BQ. I've been a 10-minute-mile runner forever.
Then, last winter, something happened. A question snuck into my mind and eventually I became brave enough to say it out loud to Dawn. "Do you think I can improve my running enough in two years to qualify for Boston at age 40? Because it would be really cool to do that at the Houston marathon and (literally) follow in my Dad's footsteps."
At the time, I had completed 5 marathons. My PR was a 4:46. I'd need to take an hour off my best time to get the 3:45 I'd need to qualify for Boston. Was I being ridiculous? Here's why I love Dawn - she immediately and confidently replied, "YES, OF COURSE YOU CAN." And I started to really consider it.
A year went by and some confidence was built and I raced in San Antonio in December 2014 and went sub-4 for the first time. I'd need 12 more minutes to make that BQ time. The Houston marathon was coming up in just 6 weeks. I started to believe that I could do it, although I didn't really "have to" until next year, to make the magic "BQ at 40 in Houston" goal.
When I lined up to race last Sunday, my entire family was there to support me. Mom and Dad were there. Adam and Jen and their adorable children had driven in from Louisiana and were going to be on the course cheering. Because this was Dad's race course and a part of our family's history, this was a big deal for me. It was emotional. And I was going to go for it.
|Hazel, Jen, William, and Henry waiting at Mile 15.|
I didn't qualify for Boston. With a 3:52 finish, I did chip 5 minutes off my time. I'll make a Smart Plan to make the whole dream come true next January in Houston when I'm 40 - I've already signed up for the race. I need to find 7 minutes to make that BQ time. I know that I can do it.
Although I didn't reach my goal, the race was incredible. A gorgeous course with hundreds of thousands of screaming spectators, ridiculously well organized and supported, with perfect weather. I'll recommend this race to everyone; it was so much fun. Even with thick crowds and the relentless pounding of a flat course that ends with 3 miles of punishing hills (yes, there are hills in downtown Houston, I didn't believe it either).
The joy at this race was in sharing it with my family. At multiple points along the way, they were there yelling support and providing "Pinky 5's," a salute invented on race day by my ridiculously cute nephews. When I saw them for the first time at mile 15, I lost my composure for a few minutes afterwards and had to gasp for breath as I tried to stop crying. I was following in my Dad's footsteps while chasing my own dream and they were all there sharing it with me - it was overwhelming.
|Saw the family, smiled, and then melted down for a quarter of a mile. :)|
|Running with Dad on the Houston Marathon course. Pretty amazing (He's far right, in Pink, on purpose).|