For a couple of years, I've been saying, "Wouldn't it be cool if I could qualify for Boston at the Houston marathon at age 40, like my Dad did?" Well yes, it would be cool. But saying "wouldn't it be cool if" isn't enough. You have to say "I Want This" to be able to make big things happen.
I've been struggling with this for a week, because I didn't have a bad race in Houston last weekend. I ran 3:51:06, which is a minute and a half faster than last year, a new PR. But I didn't reach the goal of running a Boston qualifying time of 3:45. My body was in shape to run a 3:45, but my brain wasn't.
Standing in the corral before the race, I talked to a guy in front of me, whose cotton "throw away" shirt had a Boston Marathon logo on the shoulder. I asked him if I could touch the logo for luck and he smiled, said yes, and told me "good luck." To verbalize "I'm going for a BQ today" to a stranger made me feel like an impostor; clearly, I'm still struggling with the "I'm not a runner" thing.
When the gun went off and the crowd surged towards the start line, I got teary and thought, "here we go," and asked myself, "how badly do you want it?" which is pre-race habit now (thank you Bree). The answer was, "probably not bad enough." That was my honest truth to myself on the start line of this race.
You know how in the first few steps of a running race, you kind of know how it's going to go? Well, I took the first few steps and thought, "oh man, this is going to be a battle today" because it didn't feel easy like it was supposed to. Sure enough, the first mile was an 8:47 - I needed 8:30s to meet the goal for the day.
I was wearing a borrowed Big Sexy Racing tri top (thank you Trent) and felt a boost of energy when I saw a couple of guys in the same gear ahead of me. I sped up to catch my new teammates and introduced myself. And then things started to look up! These guys (Greg and Matt) confessed to being undertrained and were running the full marathon as a "training run." This means they were actually running at the pace I needed to hold. I was thrilled to jump in with them and their friends and run with them for the next 10 miles. We held the pace and some fantastic conversation and I was thinking, this is pretty easy!
Then, they said they were stopping for a bathroom break and instructed me to run ahead. They told me not to let them catch me. I agreed and kept running, but as soon as I was alone, I started to fall off the pace. The next 15 miles were a constant battle of looking at my Garmin, seeing a number I didn't want, and picking up the pace, only to lose it a moment later.
I felt a boost of energy seeing my awesome family at mile 15 and again at 23. They were all dressed in pink and cheering and it was wonderful to see them. A big shout out to my brother Adam who has spent his last 2 birthdays standing on the Houston Marathon course!
|These kids! My awesome niece and nephews - how could you not smile when you run up and see this!?|
|I've posted this photo of me and Henry a thousand times, but has anyone noticed the man in the cat shirt over my shoulder? You should have heard people cheering for him!|
|Dad saving my life with a Coke at mile 23. Practicing our handups for Norseman. ;)|
The next one will be at the end of Norseman in August, and I'll be fully motivated to run as fast as I can, chasing that black T-shirt. There's no "wouldn't it be cool if" about that goal.
And I've signed up for the Houston Marathon again for next year. Third time's a charm.