Not a Boston Qualifier and proud of it

At this time last year, I was preparing to attend the Wineglass Marathon as support crew and spectator, getting the opportunity to watch Mark run a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. Plenty of people at the Wineglass Marathon, which runs 26.2 miles from Bath to Corning in central New York, want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Since the course is a net downhill and was touted in Runner’s World magazine as a great place to qualify for Boston, the field can be, well, a little Boston Marathon intense.

Apparently, this year along with Boston Marathon qualifiers there will be those in the field hoping to qualify for the Olympic trials. All those people amaze me. I can’t understanding running that fast for that long. And I’m also amazed by the people out there running their first marathon, wondering if they can complete the distance and unsure of how the day will unfold. They’re facing fear and uncertainty head-on and whatever happens on the course, it’s a moment of celebration.

As I would think about my marathon goals, sometimes I felt a little lost. I am not a Boston qualifier. I probably never will be unless I encounter some type of space junk which gives me superheroine powers to run fast. I am also not a newbie. I’ve run a marathon before and last year completed 26.2 miles to cap off my Ironman in Montreal. So while finishing is still a goal in itself (you can never take finishing for granted no matter how fast or experienced you are), my big goal, that desired outcome I’m looking to achieve, feels a bit insignificant in comparison to the Boston/Olympic qualifiers and the first-timers.

But then I remember that this is how I get in trouble in the first place. I compare my goals to those around me, whether I know them or not. I judge my success based on what other people are doing. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of this particular marathon journey has been the ability to leave that thinking behind. My goals are mine and mine alone. Only I can know if they are attainable. Only I can define what success means. Really. It is all up to me.

The numbers may underwhelm you, especially if you are a strong runner, but they are my numbers. And so here it is, the outcome I’m looking for when I hit Corning on Sunday. Two years ago in the Buffalo Marathon I ran 5 hours, 3 minutes. My goal for Wineglass? To break five hours. My training has indicated that I might be able to pull off a 4:45. That would probably have me turning cartwheels after the finish line, but it’s not out of the question.

My time goal was something used to structure my training, so I knew (or my coach new) how fast to make my track workouts and what pace I should be using for my tempo runs. On Sunday, it will serve as the framework for my race. But it is not the only way I define success. In many ways, I have already achieved my success story for marathon No. 3. Sunday is all about celebrating that.

0 Comments on “Not a Boston Qualifier and proud of it

  1. I have been following your blog for a few weeks now and this post really hit home with me today. I just began my running career this year and my pace is what I like to call “super slow turtle”, it gets me to the finish line running the entire way but I know I can do better. When you mentioned that you compare your goals to others and how you realized that success is really up to you, really struck a cord with me. I have run 4 5K’s now and am aiming to do one a month with my husband. However, I pick the race for each month based upon results from the previous year. My biggest concern is coming in last in any race I do so if the results from last year indicate that someone had a higher time than my typical race time, then it’s a go-to race for me. I know why I worry about this and I still haven’t dealt with the reasons. I’m just hoping that I can decrease my time so that I will never be last. I think I’m going to take your words to heart and make my own success. I should focus on a specific time for me and now worry about how many people are behind me. This may be easier said then done but it’s worth a shot. Thanks!

    • Rebecca:
      It certainly is easier said than done and I still struggle with focusing on my own goals and not comparing myself to others! There’s nothing wrong with checking out previous times when picking your race. (I do it from time to time myself).
      Here’s something you can try: Instead of working to “not be last” (which is a “negative” goal right? You’re trying “not” to do something) try for a positive goal. Aim for a finishing time now that you have run some 5Ks and know what you’re able to do. Or try to run negative splits (each mile just a bit faster, even if it’s one second). Or come up with your own personal goal, something you can try to do rather than try to avoid. Just something you might want to try. It’s a technique I’ve been working on and has helped me! Good luck! And keep me posted on how your races go.

      • Amy,

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and suggestions. I will try them while I’m training. Our next 5K is the Niagara Falls International on 10/23 and then we have the Turkey Trot. I’m getting better with my negative thinking but sometimes those old memories of coming in last in high school cross country still rear their ugly head. I think instead when that vision pops in my head I am going to instantly replace it with a vision of my last race on Sunday with my best time ever. It’s comforting to hear that I am not the only one who struggles with the negative thinking from time to time. I really appreciate it and I will keep you updated. Thanks again 🙂

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