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How often have you heard it? You cant do this or you cant do that? I recall the words, from a friend, a physical education teacher, when I said I was going to run a marathon as my very first race. He said, You cant Roy! He told me I must do a shorter race first. It is my nature to respond to someone telling me I cannot do something, by going out and proving him wrong.
Most people would not recognize the names Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline if placed in that orderunless you were from Massachusetts or have run through those en route to a finish at the Boston Marathon.
For many marathon runners, or aspiring marathon runners, their goal is to qualify for the grand daddy of all marathons. To do that, it means running a Boston Qualifying time, or as most seasoned runners say, a BQ.
Each age category has a set goal time to reach in order to earn the right to enter the race. The standards have changed several times in the last few decades and it is getting tougher again, to qualify and also to gain entry.
With entry procedures being changed after the race filled to capacity a couple of years ago, the 59 seconds of grace allowed has been terminated. Now when they say 4:00 hours it means just that, not 4:00:59.
Those running 20 minutes faster than their BQ can enter on the day race registration opens. Those between 10 and 20 can enter during the next 2 days and those between their actual time and 10 minutes can enter on the 5th day.
When I ran Boston this year, it was a very hot day. They gave participants and extra hour to finish, asking them to be cautious and just run to finish and not for a goal time. I ran 3:56 and change, just over a minute slower than what I would need to qualify.
My next marathon, same conditions, the race was black flagged meaning the clock was turned off and no results would be posted. I was just past 21-miles when I got the news, so I jogged in and again finished in 3:56+.
Another marathon and finally I got a 3:51. I had qualified. However, I wanted to gain an earlier entry day, so I went after a faster time, hoping to break 3:45 at least. Another one and the time was lowered to 3:48. One more time I toed the line in hopes of a faster time.The marathon turned out to have considerably more up hill than I anticipated and I managed just over 3:46.
The following day I had trouble with my ankle. I thought the final 18.2 miles on an old railroad bed that had been converted to a crushed granite trail, would not bother my legs, so I opted for the Ironman Velocity Pro II. I should have worn my Compressor socks, as the constant use of the same muscles tightened by calf muscles and shortened my stride. My feet felt great, but my legs could have used more support.
The next day my ankle was telling me something. It said, dont run today! I listened to my body. Over the next few days it worsened. I could barely walk on Friday. Early Saturday morning I awoke and the pain was nearly unbearable. I touched the inside of my ankle and almost screamed.
Finally, I went back to sleep. Then, in the morning I stepped out of bed and expected more pain. To my amazement, I felt no pain and the ankle actually felt like nothing was wrong with it. I went to a 5K race I had signed up for a few weeks earlier, picked up my race number and elected not to pick up the timing chip.
I lined up at the very back, with the walkers, right next to a vet in a wheelchair. I told him I would walk alongside if he wanted, but he said Id only have to slow myself down. I went through the mile in just under 18 minutes, then cut it down to 15 for the second and 15 for the third mile and finished with a 49:29. More importantly, there was no pain and I had fun doing it.
Two weeks later I ran a half-marathon with a goal of finishing in 1:42 to 1:45, but surprised myself and finished in 1:39, placing first in my age group. This would be a test run for another marathon 2 weeks later.
The temperature at the start was 40 degrees. I wore my Compressors not only to help survive about 9 miles of cement roads, but also to ward off the cold on my legs.
There are always obstacles and challenges in life. I have learned to face them instead of not trying to do anything. I continue to race to the best of my ability, using the best socks in the world to help me reach the finish line as quickly as possible.
During those marathon attempts and set backs, I was thinking back to times I was told, You cant Roy! and how I have changed the letters around a bit, taken the apostrophe out and turned it into You can try!
See you in a few miles.roy