The Boston Marathon

On Monday morning I will be standing in a corral in Hopkinton, MA awaiting the start of the Boston Marathon. It’s difficult for me to put into words exactly how this thought makes me feel. The prospect of spending the weekend in the midst of one of the greatest running events in the world fills me with excitement – the thought of the expo alone has the gear junkie in me drooling all over (I suspect my wallet is going to suffer a bit…). However, the fact that I will be running in this race hits me on a very personal level, and it makes me a bit emotional just to think about it.

Running Boston has been a long term goal for me. In fact, the Boston Marathon was largely the reason why I became a fanatical runner just four short years ago. You see, every year students from my college train for and run the race – it’s something of a tradition. I used to get requests annually from students to be excused from class on Marathon Monday, and I always allowed it, not really understanding why these kids were crazy enough to want to run such an insanely long race. I never really considered the possibility of doing it myself until Spring 2007, and my inspiration was watching several students I knew well successfully complete the race. Maybe I could do this, I thought. Maybe…

Pete ComparisonThere was one problem – I was horrifically out of shape (see comparison photo at right – May 2007 vs. Oct. 2009). Pushing 190 pounds, I had reached the highest weight of my life. Having been reasonably active in one way or another throughout my past, I was disgusted with how far I had let myself go. Running had always been my go-to method for burning off excess pounds, and this time was no different. Only this time I had a goal – I wanted to run the Boston Marathon, and I made a pact with myself that I would only do it if I officially qualified.

At the time, I had no idea if I even had the ability run farther than 3 miles – I’d never done so before. I’d never even run a race before. Even finishing a marathon was an uncertainty, let alone running one at a pace fast enough to earn me a BQ. But I stuck with the running, and found a bit of ability that I didn’t know existed. Turns out there was a runner inside of that 190 pound body, and that runner could plug along at a solid clip for mile after mile. As the pounds melted away, my times improved, and the notion that Boston might actually be a reality began to solidify. I ran 5 marathons, and saw steady improvement with each. I could do this – I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the goal was within reach.

Smuttynose Finishline SmallLast Fall at the Smuttynose Marathon – marathon #6 for me – I pushed my body to the limit, and I crossed the finish line in 3:15:21 – I had earned my BQ (see photo at left – the moment I realized I had done it). The pride I felt at the accomplishment wasn’t about speed or ability, it was about perseverance. I had set a lofty goal – one that I was uncertain I would ever accomplish – and by pushing myself to limits I never imagined possible, I had achieved it.

With the new qualification standards put in place by the BAA, it’s quite possible that this will be my one and only trip to Boston for the foreseeable future. My chances of registering with my current time are slim at best for next year, and once the times drop down for 2013, it’s going to be even harder. Given this, I plan to enjoy every moment of this weekend. I’m looking forward to the expo, to meeting friends at various meetups, and maybe even to doing some filming at the 5K and mile runs on Sunday morning. Most of all, however, I’m looking forward to standing in that starting corral, knowing that I earned my place there. I’m going to relish every step I take for the 3-4 hours I spend traversing the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston, and I may shed a tear or two along the way. I’m going to cross the finish line into a running future that has no immediate goals, because I will have accomplished the loftiest that I had set for myself: the 190 pound couch potato will have completed the Boston Marathon.


For anyone interested in checking out how I do (on bare bones training!), my bib# is 6615.

Lastly, since I know I’ll be asked, I plan to wear the Saucony Kinvara – it’s the shoe that got me here, so an easy choice.

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.



Comments

  1. mamarunsbarefoot says:

    May the wind be at your back!! Have an incredible run!

  2. Linda Q. says:

    Awesome, Pete! I got teary-eyed just reading this. I’m adding your bib number to the runners I’ll be tracking on Monday. I hope you enjoy every step of the way. Can’t wait to read all about your experience. Good luck!

  3. Erinmcdougall says:

    Been tracking your progress- keep it up- you’re almost done!

  4. Some slow-motion video of the elites’ form if anyone is interested.

    link to youtube.com

  5. Jdharma8 says:

    Congrats! Looking forward to my first marathon this summer. I have Boston in my sights…

  6. Nice brother – feels good to reach a milestone.

  7. Ccbressoud says:

    Hi Pete,
    Just found your blog, looking at minimalist running shoe reviews. Thanks for the reviews. I have been running for 7 years, (turning 57 in a week). I am about half finished with The Natural Runner, by Danny Abshire. I hope to run for many years to come… so far have 3 half-marathons and numerous 5K’s and have signed up for my first sprint triathlon. Reading all I can on changing my form and shoes. Thanks for your blog, hope to keep up with it.

    Oh and most likely saw you at somepoint yesterday, my daughter and daughter-in-law ran it in 4:04. I blogged about them:
    http://bumblebee-and-sophie.bl
    Thanks,
    Cindy

  8. Best of luck to you Pete. You’ve earned it and now is the time to enjoy it. I’ll be thinking of you and following along in my mind (and on the computer). Have a good run!

  9. John Minter says:

    Run happy, Pete!

  10. scottyboyswa2 says:

    Congratulations! I’m doing my first marathon this fall here in the Chicago Marathon. I hope to eventually get to Boston! I love your blog and find it very informative and inspirational. Keep up the good work!

  11. Well done Pete! And you inspired somebody else to break the world record in Boston (unofficially). I am interested in your story on this marathon. How was the Boston experience. And how was it compared to your BQ run?

  12. Really happy for you, Pete. Enjoy it – I’m sure you’ll have a great time.

  13. Dirtbagfitness says:

    Great run! Hope it felt good and was fun.

  14. RannieDV says:

    Good luck Pete! You’re an inspiration!

  15. As someone who could never run in school, and just finished half-marathon #2, I understand what it’s like to do something you thought you’d never do. Take time to enjoy yourself, look around, and have a great run!!!!!

  16. briderdt says:

    Awesome, Pete! Good luck!

  17. Jamieofthenorth says:

    Nice post. We’ll be in the same corral. I’ll also be sporting Kinvaras (how could I not).

  18. Dan Price says:

    Good luck and well done!

  19. Andrew W. Lischuk says:

    For those of us who follow your blog we too will be running with you in spirit, if not along side you, living vicariously through your accomplishments, until the one day we too may experience the joy and the exhilaration of our own BQ time. Or, if not, the mere joy and exhilaration of the road, the trail, the path… You’re an inspiration. Good Luck!

    PS: If you run into Kara Goucher, you can tell her Andy said hi. Just don’t tell my wife or her husband about it :-)

  20. RunningPT12 says:

    Do well, Pete! I’ll watch for you at the athlete village.

    I got to hear Dan Lieberman and Mark Cucuzzella speak today at the AMAA meeting today – great info!

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