This week is the week when I anxiously wait for my acceptance email informing me of my entrance into the Boston Marathon. This got me thinking, ‘how did I get here?’
As a child growing up in a super non-athletic family, the most I did was take a leisurely stroll after dinner with the family. In high school my best friend at the time and I decided to join the high school track & field team to ‘pad’ our CV/resume for our college applications. On paper, we were on the track team, but in reality, we were the bench warmers, the slowest girls on the team. I blame that on the fact that I wasn’t born with fast twitch muscles.
College and medical school were a blur.
During my last year of residency I had more time, and joined a gym simply because everyone else had a gym membership. It was a ‘thing’ at the time. I didn’t know anything about all the weight and exercise machines on the floor, so I made a bee line towards the treadmill. I still remember ‘faking’ it, i.e., bumping up the speed when other people were running next to me, while anxiously praying that the person would hurry up and finish so that I could dial the speed back down. Overtime, I went from walk run to running a mile nonstop. I remember calling mom to tell her that. Of course she wasn’t impressed since she had no idea how long a mile was, but I assured her it was an impressive feat.
That year, while still living in NYC, I got a glimpse of the NYC marathon on TV, and said to myself, ‘I can do that’. At the time I was running no more than 2 miles on a single run, and ‘runs’ were sporadic at best. As soon as the TV was off, I forgot all about the marathon until the next year when I saw it again. This time I turned to my fiance and said, ‘Hey let’s run the marathon.’ Since he had always wanted to try it, we signed up (luckily both of us got accepted through the lottery system on our first try) and started training that summer.
The year was 2003. The year my fiance could have broken off the engagement because I was a total BITCH during training. Short runs were OK, but the long runs were tortuous. I dreaded and hated the long runs and naturally took it out on my running partner (AKA fiance) during those runs. Race day came and we just wanted to finish and beat Oprah’s time (I think everyone wanted to beat Oprah’s time back then). We managed to achieve both, and after the race the fiance swore off marathons, said he hated the long runs during training (gee I wonder why), but I was hooked. Luckily, he still deemed I was ‘marriable’ and we got married a few weeks after the race.
I ran NYC again in 2004 – alone.
We dabbled in a triathlon in 2005, and that was the end of my short triathlete career.
Then it was a 4-year hiatus after moving to AZ. No running, so naturally I gained weght. Finally I was disgusted with how I felt, I picked up running again in 2009. I was doing mostly shorter 4-5 mile runs, and trying to run them as fast as I could. When I decided to run a local marathon, I stumbled upon the Greg McMillan training program. To get started, I was asked to enter a time for any distance in order for the program to ‘spit’ out a projected marathon finish time based on that particular time. Of course I picked my best performance, ignoring the fact that it was run on a mostly down hill course. The projected marathon finish time? 3:40:36. I realized that that time would qualify me for the Boston Marathon, and that was the start of the BQ obsession (‘obsession’ may be putting it lightly).
Missed my BQ by 6 seconds that year in Tucson, and 6 minutes 6 months later in San Diego. The back-to-back races put me on the path to an achilles injury, and I was out of commission for a year. I voluntarily took myself out for another year after finding out that Boston raised the standard for every age bracket by 5 minutes and 59 seconds, and decided that I would try to qualify when I fall into the next older age bracket – essentially keeping my BQ time the same.
The husband wanted to run the Medoc marathon in France because he wanted to drink while running the marathon. What better timing than 2012 – I was still waiting to get older. So we trained in 2012. Old habits apparently die hard. The BITCH came out again that summer – ‘Do NOT tell me to look both ways at a crosswalk!’ I came to the realization that I’m a one-woman wolf pack. I can’t run with anyone else. Luckily, he decided to stay married to me. And for the sake of this marriage, I will advise him against running any more marathons.
Then 2013 came – the year of speed & track work, diligently logging the miles, running in the dark at the high school track, getting a $95 parking ticket at the Crystal Cove State Park because my car was still there after sunset. But the perfect course and the ideal weather at CIM made it all worthwhile, and everything paid off. I finally qualified for Boston with a 3:40:11 – 25 seconds faster than what Greg McMillan’s program had predicted – the man is a genius, a demi-god.
And here I am now. Anxiously waiting to hear that I’ve been accepted to run in the 2015 Boston Marathon.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a brief history of one woman’s journey from couch to Boston.