As I was doing some cleaning today, I came across this “finisher’s certificate” from the Wineglass Marathon that had been sitting in my stack of mail, waiting to be filed or trashed:
It’s just a junky postcard; kind of a cheap excuse for a real certificate. You can even see the ink smears on it!
But although I didn’t give it a second thought when I first got it in the mail, I just never brought myself to throw it out. And when it turned up today, it really hit me how huge an accomplishment qualifying for Boston was, so I decided to frame it and put it on my desk so I can always look down and realize what I’m capable of.
I love that right on there, in big bold writing, it shows that I beat 3:10 by one second. One second.
It’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds, since 3:10:59 would have gotten me into Boston, but it’s still so cool to me. Especially because I sprinted so hard at the end to try to get into the single digits.
For those seven years I carried this Boston-qualifying goal around with me, 3:10 was the time in my head that I had to beat. And I really did it.
By one damn second.
I wish I could go back into the past and show this postcard to the Matt of about five years ago, a guy who was really down on running, dealing with injuries and wondering if his body, kind of bow-legged and with fragile shins, just wasn’t made to run marathons, let alone a 3:10 marathon.
There’s no way he’d believe he’d do it, especially not by one second. It was just too impossible a goal, and one second would have been cutting it way too close.
But it’s real, and I’m so glad today that I didn’t throw that stupid postcard away. As I set my sights on a sub-three-hour marathon, I’m sure it will come in handy.
But I’m still not sure about three hours. It’s not that I don’t think I can eventually do it; I just remember how awful I felt during miles 18-22 of Wineglass, when I believed at the deepest level that I didn’t have it in me that day. More than how hard I had worked, I thought about how many people were rooting for me to qualify, and how much I dreaded having to tell everyone that I had failed.
In the end, I think that pain of letting you all down is what motivated me to find a second wind (the understatement of my lifetime) to make it happen. And that’s something I didn’t realize back then in the moment. I hope those of you who are still reading today will accept my very late “Thank you.” But I worry about having that feeling again, shooting for three hours, and not being able to make it happen like I did last time.
This post is part of 10-part series on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Check out the rest!