Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk about all things running, probably more than they care to hear. Running is not all that I am, but it’s a big part of me, so I don’t apologize for rambling on and on about it, especially since I am forever listening to every Tom, Dick, and Harry topic that’s important to them.
It’s no secret that ever since I fell in love with running, my ultimate running dream has been to run the NYC marathon. While others longed for and worked towards a Boston qualifying time, I set my sights on the only marathon my mom, aka my running pusher (more on that story here), ran. Never mind the fact that she hated everything about it: rude and nasty spectators, dirty city streets, and the distance in general. It didn’t even matter that I heard countless horror stories about how overhyped, overcrowded and poorly managed it is: I made up my mind that it was the race for me.
Let me be clear: I’m by no means an elite runner. To date, I have run three marathons, one injured and two with great times that have increased in speed by nearly 20 minutes. Given my lack of discipline in following a training plan as it’s written, zero speed work and cross training completed, and not-so-great fueling efforts, I’m thrilled with the ability I’ve shown. I like to think of it as having some of my mom’s natural talent, and have decided it’s time to get serious now and really work towards that making that dream a reality.
About two weeks ago, I stumbled upon some disheartening information. Starting in 2014, the NYC marathon qualifying time for my age group has been adjusted to 3:10. I’m not ashamed to admit that my initial thoughts ranged from “What?!” to “Are you kidding me?!” to “Who the ___ do they think they are?” to just shaking my head in disappointment. I get it: they want to weed out as many people as possible. Some may say the weak, which is infuriating to me. I am by no means a weak runner just because I haven’t run a 3:10 marathon. In fact, NO ONE who has completed a marathon PERIOD is weak.
I believe a real runner would never discount another runner’s efforts. Unfortunately, I stumbled upon many comments about what constitutes a respectable “time” which I found to be both ridiculous and distasteful. I believe when you are truly proud of your own accomplishments, you don’t feel the need to step on someone else’s. When I finished both of my uninjured marathons, I went back to cheer on the other runners, and I felt just as emotionally proud watching them complete their race as I did my own.
I’ve never been one to give up on a dream. If I say the words “I’m going to…” out loud, I do whatever it takes to get there. I’m all about living (and maybe preaching) “reach for the stars,” “you can do anything you set your mind to,” and “get out of your own way” affirmations and am living proof of their truth. But this news hit me harder than other setbacks. It was like a slap in the face and definitely offensive. The truth is, I believe with all of my being that I can run a 3:30 marathon one day, but I don’t know that I will ever run a 3:10. I know, I know…
I could take on my usual persona of “please underestimate me, so you don’t see coming,” but it’s only half-hearted. The whole thing really took the sparkle out of that “bright lights, big city” marathon for me. I have practiced what I preach and reminded myself this is only a roadblock, and if my opinion was swayed that easily, I must not have wanted it enough. I am a big enough person to admit, perhaps that is true.
So now what? The possibilities are endless. I’m 100% certain my times will continue to get faster as I gain more strength, endurance, and experience in the 26.2 distance. I’ve already made some substantial changes to my running and diet to ensure this, and have seen some remarkable improvements in a short amount of time. For someone who has only been running for three years, who started off with a strong dislike for the sport, who is pushing her mid-30s, and who jumped from the 5K distance straight into the marathon, I am BEYOND proud of what I’ve accomplished. I will never discount what I’ve done thus far, nor will I put a cap on what I will strive for in the future. Known as having a forever stamp on my forehead that reads “I’m not done yet,” it’s hard to say what I’ll get into next. And I wouldn’t change my mindset for the world. What can I say? I love a challenge.
I still would love to run Boston one day. NYC? Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t. If I do, maybe I’ll decide I don’t want to run it after all. Only time will tell…
Most importantly, I continue to live my life to the fullest. Looking around, I am truly blessed with so much already where it truly counts the most…and that is my REALITY. 🙂