I’m really enjoying the journey back in time, the “Road to Boston” so to speak. So to NOT have to require a publisher, I’m breaking the story up into a few pieces. Please read to first part HERE, the part of the story that explains where this crazy dream came from and a few bumps in the road I encountered along the way.
My 1st and 2nd attempts at qualifying for Boston in May of 2010 were gone. I had to let them go, as much as it killed me to do that. Live and learn? Run and learn is more like it. Oh, and don’t be stupid. We all have our moments though.
I ran the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon “time trial” in 1:44:45, which just so happens to be exactly an 8 minute mile pace. GAME ON! Once again, I set my sights on the Lincoln Marathon for May of 2011. Bam, here we go again at a BQ. In December, I started my training plan. I was confident I learned from my mistakes and that I could pull in a 3:45 for the marathon.
I’m not a drama person. I don’t like it, don’t want to be around it, but there was a lot of it that spring. My 97 year old grandmother, the epitome of faith and strength, passed away in February. In March, my husband’s stupid company at the time let him know that when the project he was working on was done in August, he’d better find himself some work to do, which was the opposite of what they had told him a few months ago. Bummer was that any work was five hours away in Kansas City. Hmmmm. Can you say, PANIC? Sioux City, Iowa, isn’t exactly a hotbed of employment activity for large construction project management, so we figured we would have to move. I immediately went into “we have to sell the house” mode and he went into “interview for a job” mode. Within two weeks, our house was up for sale.
THEN on April 4th, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sheesh. Let’s just say my running kept me sane, but I certainly had some wine in the fridge. Her cancer was caught very early thanks to a mammogram (so anyone who says they don’t save lives is telling lies so if you haven’t had one, GET ONE) and she had surgery to remove it, followed by radiation. It was difficult to see my pillar-of-strength mom go through this, but I often think that it could have been worse and I was just glad she was going to be ok.
Training was hard through all of this, but I kept at it and got my miles in. I did my speed work. I ran hills. The marathon was almost there.
On April 30th, my husband and I dropped our kids off at my mom and dad’s house as we headed to the race. I was feeling good, had a nutrition plan in place, but… why… was my stomach upset? I don’t get nerves. Why wasn’t I hungry? No, everything was fine. I pushed that out of my head. We stopped by my favorite restaurant and I grabbed my huge chicken wrap/enchilada thing that I knew would sit well and fill me up. I started eating it on the way down to Lincoln. Ew. I didn’t want to eat. What the hell was going on? We went to the expo and then the hotel where I laid down and watched tv for a few hours. I felt terrible. Then around 10 pm, eight hours before I was to be leaving to toe the line at a MARATHON, it happened. Yup, I had the stomach bug. A few yacks later, I laughed and thought, “Fucking figures”. It wasn’t a terrible version of the stomach flu, but I knew my run would be compromised because those valuable carbs were just missing.
I started the race pretty strong that morning after I forced myself to eat my big breakfast. The weather was good, a little windy, but it was great running weather. I can’t remember exactly when I started to lose steam, but I told my husband around mile 16 that I felt like throwing up again. So that’s probably about where. I don’t know for sure.
I finished that darned race in 3:56, just 11 minutes slower than what I needed to qualify for Boston. Ugh. Here we go again. I didn’t know if anyone would believe me that I got stomach flu or if they’d think it was a cover for a bad race. It was real, and I was pretty much just happy that it was all over. I took my medal and went home. I lost about ten pounds from that experience because I just couldn’t eat for days. Urg.
BQ ATTEMPT 3: Fail
That July, we sold our house, moved in with my parents, then in August, we headed to Houston, Texas, where husband got a pretty good job. We didn’t want to move there, but we were out of time and options. To say we were living off adrenaline and stress was an understatement. The dream was put on hold, and I ran for fun, learned how to deal with Houston heat/humidity, and in January of 2012, my sister came to visit with her running group Without Limits from Wilmington, NC. One of the members was in the women’s Olympic trials and a bunch more were racing the half and full marathon. I LOVED the way the group helped each other, cheered each other, and I wanted that. So the next day, I joined a local running group in Katy.
I entered the Houston Marathon in May of 2012 and we started training in August (the race was in January). It’s fun to start marathon training in Houston in August. Not. I’ve NEVER sweat so much. I didn’t know if I wanted to go for a BQ again. I was exhausted. My husband wasn’t home much since his work commute was insane. My kids had a crazy football schedule. I just didn’t know if I had it in me. I was scared to put all that time and effort into it only to have the crappy outcomes again. I didn’t know if it was worth it anymore. Then one morning I heard the words to an Eli Young Band song that changed my mind. I started crying immediately when I heard it and I knew I wanted to go for a BQ.
“Keep on dreamin’ even if it breaks your heart”
I knew I needed to go for it again. I trained to BQ (3:40), but I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself because I didn’t want to be disappointed. Again. I went into the race totally freaked out (read the full race recap HERE – it’s a pretty cool story, for real, read it) because of the weather. I had gained weight. I just didn’t know. I went mental and basically had a breakdown in the 20 minutes before the race. I kept saying that all I wanted was a great race.
I ran the Houston Marathon in 3:43:18….
…not knowing until 30 minutes later that I had qualified for Boston by 1 minute 42 seconds. Yes, the time for what my age would be AT THE BOSTON MARATHON was 40, even though I was only 39 at qualification time, so I had an extra five minutes. SURPRISE!! I cried. I celebrated. I. Did. It. It was sweeter not finding out until after I was done, too.
I knew that just because you qualified for Boston didn’t mean you automatically get in. I knew it was based on how many people registered and the times they qualified by, so each year is different. I knew I squeaked by to qualify, but I had to wait until September to register and see if I would actually get in.
It took almost two years to recover from the huge stressful move from Iowa to Texas when my husband got the chance to interview for a job in Wilmington, NC, one of my favorite cities in the country AND bonus, where my sister and her husband lived. (My husband is from NC and I had lived there for several years before Iowa and Texas.) A few weeks later, in the early weeks of June 2013, we were getting our house ready for sale for our last move “back” to NC, which is where we really wanted to be. Before we even moved into our house in August, I started training with the running group Without Limits, the same one that inspired me to join a running group just a year before. How friggin’ ironic. I didn’t know if I was going to get into the Boston Marathon. After the bombings, I knew everyone who could run, would run. It was going to be close.
NEXT POST: Four seconds that made all the difference, shin splints, and the Boston Marathon.
What a great story of persistence and chasing your dream! Way to not quit! FYI – marathon training in Texas summers SUCKS. But I swear by it. Esp if you go somewhere cooler in the fall to race. Kudos to you for surviving the humidity in Houston.