I thought finishing my first marathon was a fluke and luck played a huge role. To prove it wasn’t just a fluke, I signed up for my second attempt of the Chicago Marathon. I registered for the Philadelphia Marathon that same year. Wonderful things happened that second year and chasing a unicorn crossed my mind. However, life is filled with ups and downs. I dealt with injuries, personal obstacles, excuses, lack of planning, and long periods off. I started wondering to myself, “Can I actually qualify for the Boston Marathon on my terms?”
I chose the Philadelphia Marathon as my backup race. Anything can happen on race day. Something did happen at the 2009 Chicago Marathon. I hit my goals earlier in the race but things began to fall apart around the 25K market and took a nose dive. I finished my second marathon but walked away disappointed. Thankfully, I registered for the Philadelphia Marathon. I flew into Philadelphia. I was determined to get a better time and I did. It wasn’t the exact time I planned but I beat my first marathon time by xxx and my second marathon time by xxx. I ran this race forty-two days after my last marathon, while staying at a hostel, touring Philadelphia by foot two days prior, volunteering at the expo, and eating poorly the days prior to the race. I also didn’t follow my original plan. If I stuck to my original plan of staying in the pace group, I think I could have reached my goal at Philadelphia despite it being hillier that the Chicago Marathon. Although I still didn’t get the time set my goal on, I ran it faster and endured more pain. I felt like I earned this one.
The idea of qualifying for the Boston Marathon leaped in my head as I waddled back to the hostel. The race organizers were touting this as great race to qualify for the Boston Marathon, one of the guests at the hostel ran the Boston Marathon in the past, and while waiting for the train to get back to the hostel, a guy at the Market Street train stop started chatting with me and the topic of the Boston Marathon came up. Boston was in the air in Philadelphia. The idea grew and grew.
With a bit of consistency in my running, I beat my personal best at the 2010 Chicago Marathon. I didn’t get into the threes like I wanted to. Remember, anything can happen on race day. My right hamstrings gave me issues on Halsted Street. My calf cramped up again around mile 18. In the end, I did things right that day: the preparation, self-care on the course, and managing the race. I think I can do this.
I thought I could train for a faster time but I didn’t. The years following weren’t so good to me and running. I strained my right foot in 2011. My heels started to be a constant problem from 2012 until the summer of 2014. I volunteered to lead a training group for CARA in 2012 and 2013 to help people prepare for their marathon while I reduced the speed of my runs. I feel like I didn’t heel quickly because of a lot of false starts and misdirected energy. I thought about cross training with NIU’s triathlon club but I pushed too hard too soon. With some time off and building my mileage and intensity gradually, I’ve been running with very little pain. Each run seems to give me more energy and more strength. I feel like these injuries are behind me.
I learned a few things these past years. I feel like it’s time to chase a unicorn and qualify for the Boston Marathon. I can do this. I’m ready.