This photo captures an extremely proud moment – I had just crossed the NYC marathon finish line in 3:39:36, after months of hard work and 26.2 miles of fierce determination to beat my previous time in Paris and qualify for Boston. I thought I was holding my ticket to Boston 2012 in that photo (although truth be told, I was probably focusing more on not falling over in front of the camera than anything else!).

So why, this morning, did I feel like someone had taken my NYC medal and slapped me in the face with it? Like my proud moment had suddenly been devalued? Well, because apparently my current best time and BQ is no longer good enough – for the B.A.A., that is!

If you go to B.A.A.’s website, you find out that for week two entrants (anyone who qualified by less than five minutes), only those who were BQ-1:14 or faster were given a spot. I missed my opportunity by 50 seconds, along with 3,228 other applicants who were not accepted. Of the 23,521 runners who applied, 20,081 people were given places, and of those accepted, only 5,301 were from week two. And that’s if you qualified to begin with – tough competition, clearly!

When the B.A.A. announced long ago that they would implement a new registration process in 2012 that prioritized the fastest qualifiers and would tighten qualifying times by five minutes in 2013, I knew my chances were slim to none that I would even get the opportunity to submit my application this month. Therefore, when I was able to apply last Monday, it was difficult to restrain my excitement.

Since then, I’ve had an amazing week of running, hiking, eating, celebrating and simply hanging out with E in Big Sur, Santa Cruz and San Francisco (more on that soon). I managed to mostly block out the anticipation because I was having so much fun and keeping busy, but once week two registration closed, it was hard not to obsessively check my email!

I had promised myself that it wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t get in – I ran an awesome race and BQ’d on a tough course, the new registration process does not change that – but when I got that email this morning, I was devastated. I had tried to play it cool all week, but my hopes escaped me the moment I registered and turned into a deluded conviction that I would actually be running the 116th Boston marathon. It would’ve been a nice confidence booster as I complete my somewhat turbulent Portland training cycle.

I earned a place in that race and I was (am) frustrated that the B.A.A. denied me the experience of running my first Boston, particularly when so many qualified runners participate year after year. At least I know I’m not alone! In order to run Boston in the future, I not only have to qualify with the new time of sub-3:35 (at least in the next five years), but with the new “systematic” registration process in place, I most likely need to run sub-3:33 or even sub-3:30 to secure myself a spot.

I’ve had all afternoon to contemplate the news and my reaction to it. I’ve accepted my rejection and have moved on, despite some residual disappointment, of course. Most of all, however, I’ve been reminded that whether or not I run Boston does not actually mean anything! Sure, it would be an honor and I do plan to run it someday – but does it make me any less proud of my achievement? Does it rob me of my BQ or my medal? Does it mean I’m not a great runner? NO.

The result of my application does, however, make me wish I’ve had a stronger, injury-free Portland marathon training cycle. How sweet a victory it would be to kill that race next week with a sub-3:35 time that would get me back in the game for 2013!

Unfortunately, unless a miracle occurs, that probably isn’t in the cards for me next month, but perhaps it is in the months that follow (race TBA!). However, first I want to set it straight in my head that I don’t want to run faster so that I can be accepted into an elitist racing institution – I want to do it for myself! I gave NYC every ounce of effort on that particular day and will always take pride in that. However, I agree that my 3:39 time is NOT good enough – for me, which is all that matters – because I know I am capable of running a much faster race. It’s always been my goal to get sub-3:30 – running Boston will be a bonus.

So I may not be running Boston 2012, but it hasn’t changed anything in that picture up above. The only difference will be the year engraved on my Boston finisher’s medal! 🙂

Congratulations to all the runners who did get in – I wish you the best of luck in your training – and to those of you who weren’t accepted, let’s find ourselves another awesome Spring race to run!

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