On Squeaking into Boston
Registration for the 2017 Boston Marathon opened on Monday, September 12th, and for the first time in my life that date has meant something for me and my calendar. I’ve been following the Boston Marathon since close to the day I started running, and for the last six and a half years I have daydreamed, set incremental goals (and big audacious goals), and worked really, really, really hard to get to the start line. And tomorrow, a full week since the date registration opened, I can finally, finally register with my squeaker qualifying time.
For many runners, the Boston Marathon is the holy grail of races. People of all ages spend months, years, sometimes even decades attempting to qualify, in part because that Boston Marathon qualifying time means something. It becomes a status symbol for the amateur runner, and many people, including myself have spent gobs of time, money, and energy to get there. To qualify for this touted race, one must meet strict time standards based on age and gender. One millisecond too slow, and you miss the cutoff. For a long time, this was enough of a challenge to keep the marathon field within limits, but in recent years attaining one’s qualifying time is not always enough to enter the race. Over the last several years, the race’s popularity has wedged out slower qualifying times, discretely and organically lowering the time standards and making the race harder and harder to run. The collective Boston Marathon goal now then is to not only meet your qualifying standards, but also to run the race. No easy task.
For my age and gender time standard, I needed to run a 3:35 marathon between September of 2015 and September of this year. My qualifying race was back in May at the Eugene Marathon, a race I tirelessly trained for amid moving across the country, starting a new job, and adjusting to a new city. It was hard, but I eeked out a 3:30:15, qualifying me for the Boston Marathon by 4 minutes and 45 seconds. I had done it, at least I hoped! But the reality is, I won’t know if I actually get to run the race for several days, if not weeks. Registering as a squeaker for the Boston Marathon is a little bit like entering a lottery for a tough, hilly race in unpredictable weather conditions, except you first have to work really hard to enter the lottery at all, and then after entering you need to wait anxiously to find out if you can run the really tough, hilly race in unpredictable weather conditions. No wait, that is registering for the Boston Marathon as a squeaker. All of this is to say that I am feeling a little nervous about Monday morning.
Running the Boston Marathon has been a running-life time goal for me. I have dreamed about it since my very first marathon at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, and have carried that dream with me until right here, right now. Tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. (West Coast time), I’ll sit in front of the computer screen, carefully type in my qualifying information, and click the submit button for the very first time. I will instantly be terrified of being rejected while also terrified of actually having to run the Boston Marathon (because HARD!) But I will also feel proud to be able to hit the submit button at all.
Are you registering for the 2017 Boston Marathon?
To all my fellow squeakers and Boston qualifiers, good luck!