Why does anyone care about qualifying for Boston anyway?
Runner’s World has been asking that of athletes (“Are You Obsessed with Boston?”), and it got me to thinking. What is it that really motivates people to do what it takes for the almighty BQ?
I know what it was for me. The prize money. All $806,000 of it. I knew if I could BQ, that money would be mine. Look! I have no neck:
Honestly, though, it was simply the challenge. Could I, as a newer runner, really get to Boston? How many races would it take? How many years?
Someone (a group of someones) set up qualifying times for this race. Some of us want what’s hard to get. You mean there’s a race where I can beg them to take my $130 if I run as fast as they say I have to? I’m in. I’d also like to park in handicap spots because I’m not allowed and go behind the first class curtain on airplanes even though I only have a coach ticket. Just simply putting my toe over the line is exhilarating.
I suppose there is a part of me that felt like getting a BQ would somehow define me as a runner. In my heart of hearts I know it doesn’t, so it’s an external thing. Really, when I lace up my shoes and run down my street, I am a runner. Hell, I’m even a runner now and I can’t even run.
Yeah, yeah Boston’s the oldest marathon and fast people run it. At mile 13 some college girls yell and scream. There is some hill at mile 16 that’s supposed to break your heart. But for me, I just wanted to see if I could do it.
Between you and me, I didn’t know squat about the Boston Marathon when I started running two years ago. It’s a marathon. In a city called Boston. Big shit.
Confession time: When I ran my first marathon almost two years ago, I didn’t even run with a watch, let alone a Garmin. I just wanted to finish the damn thing. When I ran my first marathon almost two years ago it was bliss. I was free of technology, pressure, paces and injuries. A lot changes in two years.
While training for that first race, people kept asking me what my time goal was. Time goal? Are you high? Isn’t it enough of a goal to make it to the finish line? I had no clue about pace. I just went with what felt right and I promised myself I wouldn’t walk.
After that first race, I ran a half marathon three months later faster than I thought I could. With a Garmin. Somewhere along the line I started reading blogs and learned about this BQ thing. But, what was a BQ? A Big Queef? A Bonus Question? A barbecue without the extra B (we call that a barcue)?
Then I got it. It was this race where you had to have a certain marathon finish time to enter. I looked up my time…let’s see I’m 42….that means I have to run a…3:50 marathon. Well, shit, I thought. I’ve only run one marathon and that was in 4:03, so could it be possible to cut 13 minutes off my time? Hell yeah. That’s only 30 seconds per mile. In truth, I could easily cut 4 minutes off per mile and win the whole damn race.
So, I went for it and it happened. May 9, 2010, Ft. Collins, Colorado. My second marathon. I crossed the line in 3:42:36, giving myself a nice 8 minute cushion. I was going to Boston.
People say Boston’s not all that. There are better, cheaper, more scenic races. True.
People say Boston’s no different/better than NY where you need a time (faster than Boston) to enter (if you don’t want to risk the lottery system). True.
People say the Boston qualifying times are too easy for women. Maybe true.
I say, I’m still glad I’m going. I want to say I did it. That I was there. It’s history making for me, personally. The thrill has been the journey to get there. Boston for me is symbolic of hard work, determination and doing what I said I would do.
So, your turn. Why do you care (or not) about getting that BQ?
Going to find my neck,