Two weeks and one day from now, I’ll be running the Boston Marathon. I love how that sounds, so let me say it once more: In two weeks, I will be running the Boston Marathon.
If you’re new here, you might not know the story, so I’ll repeat it. Because I’m proud of it.
Qualifying for Boston is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Harder than running 50 miles, harder than college, harder than having a real job (more fun, though).
Don’t get me wrong — it’s not like qualifying for Boston is some superhuman feat. There are naturally gifted runners out there who qualify in their first or second marathons. But I am not one of them. Not even close.
For me to qualify, I had to run a 3:10:59 marathon (now it’s a little harder). But do you know what my first marathon time was?
4:52. Or maybe 4:53. Yep, that’s an hour and 40 minutes — about four minutes per mile — too slow.
And yet something about the thought that I was too slow to be allowed to run Boston brought me back for more. In fact, I can honestly say that the only reason I ran a second marathon after that is because I was dead set on qualifying for Boston.
In my second marathon, four years later, I took a whole hour off my time and ran a 3:50.
Great. But utter failure at getting into Boston.
Next time, I would surely do it.
So a year later, I ran a 3:36. Failure.
Then I intentionally made myself so completely certain that I would do it next time. Every time I ran, I played out in my head the scene of crossing the finish line in with the clock saying 3-0-anything. Sometimes I got so into it that my eyes would well up while I was running and picturing it. A little embarrassing, but true. This time, I would surely do it.
But next time, I’ll surely do it.
Next time, though, I’ll surely do it. Nevermind this knee injury.
And then, nine months later, I did it.
Going vegetarian was the big spark that got me across the line in 3:09:59, but that’s not what’s really responsible for it.
The real reason I did it is that none of those failures were really failures. In my mind, I was going to qualify no matter what, so it didn’t really matter whether it happened on a given race or not. Sure, at the end of every single one of those marathons I was a little ashamed at “failing” by so much when I had been so sure that I’d do it. But the next week, when I started training again, it didn’t feel like failure. It just felt like I had a huge head start over last time. And this time, I would surely do it.
Anyway, I didn’t get to run Boston the first year after I qualified. My son was born two days before the race, and of course I didn’t consider missing the birth (though I did write an April Fool’s post about it that way too many people didn’t get).
But this year, I will be running Boston. The weekend will be one gigantic reward for all that work, and all that failure-that-wasn’t.
I can’t wait. My training recently has been abysmal, but that won’t hamper my enjoyment of the marathon. I will enjoy every minute of it, and the more minutes there are of it, the better. And if a college kid offers me a beer during it, you’d better believe I’ll drink it.
If you haven’t done so, you can read a lot more about my Boston qualifying journey in a series of posts I wrote in the midst of it. My favorite is the letter I wrote where I said I would do it, only a little while after running the 3:50.
The Best Stuff I Read Last Week
Alright, well that was supposed to be my little bit of “flavor” before I posted weekend links. Since it was long, I’ll be brief here. But read these; they’ll make you want to do something.
What Man Understands That He Is Dying Daily? (This is Your Life) — The Art of Manliness
Sounds heavy, and it kind of is. But it’s really, really good and will kick your ass into gear. Parts of it completely echo the thoughts I’ve had recently when I’ve been hanging out with my son and I realize that once my dad was hanging out with me exactly like this.
Why You’re Disabled, and What to Do About It — Johnny B. Truant
Also really good. I’m in it, because Johnny mentions how he hurt is foot during the run we did in Austin. But the post is really about much more.
Where’s the Beef? — via Get Fit Slowly
Interesting video about what happens to gorillas when they get off of the junk the zoo is feeding them and start eating actual plants. Surprisingly, there’s no mention here of the fact that gorillas eat so little protein to support their massive frames.
How to Start — Zen Habits
Recently, I’ve been big on the idea of starting rather than sitting around waiting for things to change. This post just sums it all up, and encourages you to just get started, no matter how small.
And last but not least, I read an advance copy of Courtney Carver‘s new ebook, Simple Ways to Be More With Less, last night. I loved it. The ebook isn’t out yet, but I’ll let you know when it is.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
P.S. If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to join us for #nmachat on Monday, April 4 at 8 PM Eastern!