Falling short

Training for a marathon involves months of preparation, hours of sweat, and seemingly endless miles, all to be laid on the line in an event that lasts a few hours. Last December, I had the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I needed a 3:40, and felt that I was capable of 3:30, based on my 1:40:03 half marathon time and the McMillan calculator. I was trained, tapered, and ready to run. The race did not go as well as planned. I had persistent intestinal issues the morning of, which led to an unplanned detour into the desert. I wasn’t able to hit the speeds that I wanted, even though I felt like I gave it my best that morning. Fortunately, I still managed to BQ with a time of 3:38:41. With the new, tighter standards, I was pretty sure that it would be enough and I wanted to take a year off from marathons anyway.

After the bombings, I knew anecdotally that there was an increased interest in running the 2014 race and wondered if I would make it in. Still, I was committed to my goal of completing a Half Ironman in the fall and didn’t think I could do that and PR in a marathon. Extra slots were opened up for the race, but yes, more people were registering. I submitted my registration, waited a week and a half, and learned that the cut-off was 1:38 under qualifying time. I was 19 seconds too slow. All that preparation. So close. So far. After I got the news, I thought about my desert potty break. If it hadn’t been for that, I’d be looking up airline tickets right now.

Life doesn’t coddle. Sometimes, what you bring to the table isn’t enough. Sometimes your goals are thwarted by things beyond your control (although I think that I will skip the artichoke hearts the night before a race). In reality, all we can control is our preparation, our attitude, and our behavior in the moment. If something is worth it, we will press on, even when faced with setbacks and the very real possibility that we may fall short. Again.

There are endless quotes and songs about focusing on the journey, not the destination (including one from a fully-clothed Miley Cyrus). That’s where the time is spent, the tears are shed – the growth happens. It’s where we learn about ourselves. Finding strength, tenacity, and yes, weakness. There may come a time to shelve certain dreams, but that doesn’t have to lead to despair. After all, Johnny Depp originally sought to make it as a rock star.

In the grand scheme of things, I know that missing out on a race is not a huge deal, and I plan to make like Joe Dirt and keep on keepin’ on. I have already signed up for the Phoenix Marathon in an attempt to better my qualifying time. After a break from marathoning, I am looking forward to ramping up the miles and going long again. Me, Boston, and 2015? There’s only one way to find out. Happy Training.

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9 thoughts on “Falling short

  1. Good job on qualifying, but unfortunate you didn’t get in. You learn the most about racing when things don’t go as planned. They can be blessings in disguise to make you a better runner in the long run.

  2. Good perspective! I heard somewhere recently that part of a good training plan is the acceptance of not making our goals because it keeps us still working toward them. Running is a humbling sport, that’s for sure.

  3. These opportunities or misfortune always lead to something better, so that I always believe they do.
    It’s like missing your regular bus in the morning, but seeing that ridiculous outfitted guy who makes your day. Making you smile in the middle of that heated office argument because you remembered what his hat looks like.

    Now you know you’ll easily beat the 3:38:41 in your next 42k, allowing you to better train for the Boston Marathon’15!

    Didn’t know about the Half-Ironman btw, that is huge news! Millions run in marathons everyday, how many even think about doing a Half-Ironman?

    • I think in the end, I think it’s all about growth and learning.

      Yeah, my first (and maybe last? 🙂 ) Half Iron is on October 20. I think I will be a little under-prepared as far as the bike goes, but I think I should be able to finish in under 6 hours, which isn’t too bad.

      May your day be full of funny hats 😉

  4. Ugh! Sympathy! I can imagine how disappointing that is for you and makes your brain start “What If’ing”. But I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason… and there is ALWAYS next year. My dream is to get a charity number (god knows I’ll NEVER qualify!) for 2015 so maybe we can meet up 😀

    • Thanks. I’m starting to look forward to training for Phoenix and trying a new training approach this time.

      It would be cool to meet in 2015 🙂 And hey, never say never.

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