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.

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