Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dear Boston...

Dear Boston,

In light of your upcoming race on Monday, I want to take this opportunity to thank you. Although circumstances haven’t quite gone my way this time around and I won’t be gracing your presence on Monday as intended, I still hold in my heart a great deal of gratitude. Your international prestige, qualifying standards, vicious hills, and beauty make people from all of the world work hard to put their talents to the test to take part in your event. Words cannot express what you have done for me, but here’s my best attempt to do so.

Before running my first marathon, the Cleveland Marathon in 2009, I was walking to my car after work.  A coworker stopped me in the parking lot and said, “Hey MP! I heard you were trying to qualify for Boston! Good luck!!!”  I immediately chuckled at the possibility, and said “UM NO I’m FINISHING the marathon and that’s about it!” I had no idea where she came up with that!  It was very difficult for me to get to where I was prior to the marathon. I had a bad fall in the snow early in on my training and had been running with a bummed knee (which turned into both knees and ankles---I was always icing SOMETHING), had a severe migraine post my first 20 miler, I gained a TON of weight (yes, training for a marathon bumped me up to almost 130 lbs!!! No clue how that happened), and I was adjusting to a busy marathon runner life schedule. Boston, you were never in the realm of possibility for me EVER as far as I was concerned.
With the fam after the CLE Marathon in 2009!

Upon accomplishing my goal and finishing the Cleveland Marathon in 4:29, I decided I was going to break 4 hours at the Chicago Marathon that fall of 2009. I trained with no Garmin, did no speed training, but felt something shift with in me as I was training throughout the summer.  In my preparation for Chi-Town, I ran the River Run ½ Marathon. I finished in 1:42, which was a significant P.R. for me in my pre-Garmin days. I had no idea how I did it, but decided on a new goal: I WAS GOING TO QUALIFY FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON IN MY SECOND MARATHON, THE CHICAGO MARATHON. It was only a month a way. I knew I was way under-prepared, really  had no clue what the heck I was doing, and had no one to give me any guidance or strategies on how to make this happen. But, I didn’t care. I wanted you, BOSTON. And, I’m a girl who gets what she wants. J
River Run 2009 turning point!
Morning of the ChicagoMarathon 2009!


Being the amateur I was, I had no clue how to run a “smart” marathon. I was over-ambitious, started out too fast, and BLEW it the last 6.2 to the finish line. My legs had nothing left, and I was focusing on putting one foot in front of the either. I had to pee the entire time, but wouldn’t let myself risk letting you go, Boston. But, skipping Port-A-Potty’s wasn’t enough—I finished 3:42:26. That left me 1 minute and 27 seconds shy of qualifying. AHHHH!
Overly ambitious MP :-)


 But believe it or not, I didn’t finish feeling discouraged. A fire was lit in me and I’ve never felt more determined to reach a goal in my entire life. I knew that if I trained appropriately I could make it happen. SO, I did my research. I started doing speed training, got a Garmin for my birthday, and read every book possible on how to become  a better runner.  And, that’s just what happened…

Initially, I planned on using my first marathon course, the Cleveland Marathon to qualify for you. But, I didn’t want to take the risk. I decided to run the Glass City Marathon in April of 2010 first, and then if I didn’t make it then attempt Cleveland. My training was flawless. I didn’t miss a workout, I ate SUPER healthy, I stop drinking all alcohol, and made little time for anything beyond teaching and running.  I ended up dropping over 20 pounds, and was under 110 pounds (not a particularly attractive look on me; I had some more lessons to learn from that!). I paced to run the Glass City Marathon at 3:30 to give myself some cushion to ensure I qualified for you. But, I couldn’t hold back. I started out around a 8:00min/mi, and slowly picked it up throughout the flat-fast course. Then, when I hit mile 20 I knew I had it! I was in tears, cheering and dancing the whole way, and FLEW to the finish line. I ended up finishing 3:19! Not only did I qualify for you, but I WAY surpassed my goal and ended up being one of the top female finishers. I had no idea I was capable of running such a fast marathon, and was so overcome with a feeling of triumph. I’ve never felt better about accomplishing a goal in my entire life. I DID IT! J Then, I ended up running Cleveland a month later in 3:18. I was unstoppable!
Glass City Marathon 2010 determination!
Cleveland Marathon 2010- unstoppable!

With my bro-in-law and sis after CLE!


I continued training through the summer and fall, and realized that shorter distance races were fun, too! I ended up running many, figured out how to break 20 minutes in a 5K, and came to realize I was no longer a “jogger.” I was a runner! And, not just a runner. A marathon runner. And, not just a marathon runner. A BOSTON QUALIFIER! I ended up qualifying again at the Marine Corps Marathon.

When it came time to begin training, I wanted the entire world to know I was preparing for you. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on apparel, and wore it everywhere I went. I was posting about you on Facebook like crazy, and getting the passive aggressive remarks from those inevitable running skeptics. But, I didn’t care what anyone had to say. I had so much pride in reaching my goal. Training through one of the worst winters in Cleveland lacked many perks, and I spent more time on the treadmill than I would have liked. As spring approached, I ended up having my first of what has turned into a series of “black outs” while I was running. But, I still continued through with my plan and met you on that beautiful day on April 17, 2011.
Made it to Boston, without luggage, but was SO happy to be there!

I didn’t want to take a minute for granted, although feeling so overwhelmed by the opportunity. I remember lining up in Hopkinton prior to the start, and feeling such a wide array of emotions. I was excited, scared, anxious, hopeful…to name a few! When I crossed the start line, I broke down crying.  I could not believe that I, the girl who never ran cross country or track, who merely wanted to finish a marathon two years prior, was about to run thee Boston Marathon. Really? Me? I got it together, and got moving! I ran the race to enjoy the experience as planned, and didn’t worry about my time. I was dancing in the streets of Boston and had the time of my life. Crossing your finish line was one of the most painful yet exhilarating experiences of my life, and NO ONE will ever be able to take that accomplishment away from me.


But, crossing the finish line isn’t the only accomplishment I got out of the experience. The goal of you, thee Boston Marathon, has taught me more about myself, and life in general than I ever would have expected. I learned that there is NO goal not worth reaching for. Regardless of how silly or overambitious it may seem, why not give it a shot?  With that in mind, it’s important to recognize that goals require PATIENCE. You cannot expect to reach them overnight. And, you may fail a few times in attempt to reaching that goal. But, I think what distinguishes an “average” person from an “incredible” person is their response to failure. A person who fails and turns off the lights on their goal can expect an average, or perhaps less than average, life. A person who fails and turns on the lights, faces their situation and responds accordingly, can expect an INCREDIBLE life and beyond! I learned through the Boston Marathon, how to make my life INCREDIBLE and how to continue working to make it EVEN more incredible!  In having an incredible life, I’ve also learned the significance of BALANCE. All aspects of your life need attention and neglecting one completely to enhance another isn’t healthy and doesn't lead to happiness.
Friends!

Nephew!
Sister!

That being said, Boston, You won’t be seeing me on Monday. I’ve qualified for your now in 6 out of the 8 marathons I’ve run, and appreciate the woman your challenge has molded me into as a result . However, my unfortunate health issues <which are appearing to get resolved!!!> have put me on an offical break, but I will be back.  A break is just what I need right now. But, please know it’s not you, IT’S ME!

See you in 2013,

MP <3

(P.S. Your forecast for Monday is INSANE- 87 degrees—YIKES!!! Please cool down for all of my running friends!!)

4 comments:

  1. What a great story! You've come such a long way in a short time. You have so much to be proud of. Thanks for sharing!!!

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  2. Great post MP! I am glad you didn't run Boston this year, it was hot! Everything happens for a reason :)

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  3. Thanks, Jess!!! I miss you!!! :-D

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