Okay, I have decided to run a spring marathon, in yet another attempt to qualify for Boston.
Many would say, the challenge, peer pressure, redemption or all those other words that we use to describe “why we want to do something”, especially when we have been unsuccessful so many times in the past.
A promise made a long, long time ago by a 12-year-old child to his grandfather.
The promise was that I would someday run the Boston Marathon.
I know that I should have forgotten about this promise years ago and probably would have, except for one thing.
When I said that to my grandfather all those years ago, he laughed at me and it was not that joking around laugh that adults have for kids who are saying something they think is dumb.
No this laugh was the nasty laugh that he used when he was talking to other adults, who were telling “tall tales” and it was meant to belittle that person, especially when he added in the “yea right!” at the end to punctuate his derision.
Even then I knew the difference.
My grandfather supported me in many things 100% and I thought of him more as my father, than my grandfather for many years, but his not so gentle dismissal of what I said about running Boston that day has stuck with me and still is something that haunts me after all these years.
It is unfortunate that something that happened more than 44 years ago still affects me this much. However, it does and I can remember after he got done with the “yea right”, how I looked at him as only a pissed off 12 year old boy can and yelled “I will run Boston” and stomped off – hurt and humiliated.
We didn’t talk about it again until 1982, even though I remembered it very clearly and followed the Boston Marathon results every year. When I came back home for Christmas that year and he asked me “how my marathon had gone”. I had started the Marine Corps Marathon that year and dropped out at 12 or so miles and had to ride in the meat wagon. He then just said “So when are you going to run Boston?” There was more than a little sarcasm in that question. I mumbled “when I fucking qualify”, got pissed, stomped off and proceeded to get drunk – you know another one of those successful family holiday times.
The next year I finished the Marine Corps, but didn’t qualify and I was dreading the trip up to Maine for Thanksgiving and hunting season. It meant I had to face Gramp again about the marathon. He knew I hadn’t qualified for Boston, because Mom told him and the only thing I remember that he said was “congratulations you finished a marathon, but it wasn’t Boston was it.” It hurt – a lot, but I knew it was coming, so I just tried to ignore it, laughed it off and quietly drank my beer (drinking was just a part of life back then), a few minutes later slipped off to be by myself and avoided him the rest of the time I was home on leave.
I never understood the vehemence and negativity that he had when it came to me wanting to run the Boston Marathon. That is until a few years before he died, we finally sat down and talked about it.
I found out when he was a young man that he had wanted to run Boston at one time in his life and due to what he called “life getting in the way” he wasn’t able to and always regretted that he did not run, evidently a lot more than he let on or realized. I never did find out what the “life getting in the way had been”.
However, he had let his disappointment come through when I said that I wanted to run it. After I made my peace with my grandfather about why he acted the way he did – I did set out to run it again that year, but injuries and “life” got in my way – again.
Needless to say after that conversation I wanted to run Boston more than ever for him too, not just for me.
Failure has been the norm
The only problem is that I have failed so many times in my attempts to run a marathon since 1983, ah hell let’s be honest I have failed in every attempt to even get close to the starting line of another marathon without being injured, including my most recent failure of not getting to the starting line of the Marine Corps Marathon last month.
It has become one of those big disappointments in my life.
My wanting to run a marathon this spring is all about my unfinished business of running the Boston Marathon.
Which means for me to run Boston, I have to qualify, no I can’t run as a bandit or any other way than as an official qualifier. Another promise – only this is one that I made to myself after my 1982 fiasco, when I DNF’d MCM and was riding in the back of the meat wagon (those promises bite me square in the ass sometimes, because last year I turned down an opportunity for an official number at the 2013 Boston Marathon)
Of course I was a lot younger in 1982 and thought that it would be sometime in the next couple of years and that I would just run another marathon qualifying for Boston pretty easily.
Unfortunately, I still haven’t run a BQ marathon more than 30 years later.
Why this spring?
Truthfully, at 56 years-old, I am not getting any younger and unfortunately the older I get, the more the accumulated aches and pains get in the way of my running longer distances, at the speed I need to qualify for Boston. Of course others who are older than I am qualify for Boston, every year, however, I just feel that the sands of time are running out for me in this respect, so it is getting closer every day to the now or never point for me.
Yes, I know that for my age group my BQ qualifying time is 3:40, but I plan to train and run at a 3:30:00 pace because you just never know what will happen during a marathon and those 10 minutes are…well just in case.
I know nothing in life is guaranteed and there is no guarantee that I will ever run Boston or even finish another marathon, but I am going to give it my best effort, stay positive about being able to finish and push myself to do what I need to do to accomplish what has become almost a burden and a monkey on my back in my running life.
When I cross that finish line with my BQ time next spring, I have a sneaking suspicion, I might get just a little emotional, both from the joy of achieving a BQ time and also the relief of getting rid of this monkey on my back that has been beating on me for so long.
Then I will be able to apply to be an official Boston Marathon Runner. At that point I will not care what time I finish Boston in, but if I can get to the starting line – I. will. finish.
That will be an emotional time for me, that I do know.
Running Boston is more than a bucket list item for me, yeah it goes far beyond that.
As Paul Harvey used to say “That is the rest of the story. Good day”.