The Timing of Fall Qualifying Races & the Boston Marathon

/author/dancingmyself/20140613_114541_42341908.jpgI surely have a screw loose in my head because I am considering running the Boston Marathon with a charity in 2015.

While I fully plan to make my second BQ attempt at the Baystate Marathon in October, there is a pretty good chance that the 2015 Boston Marathon will already be full before I even run my race. Which would mean putting off my entry until 2016.

Now that I’ve got two marathons under my belt and have run up Heartbreak Hill twice, I have to admit I’m feeling kind of old for this shit. I love training and actually enjoyed my high mileage weeks, but I don’t honestly know how kind it would be to put myself through multitudes of marathons as I approach the second half of my 40s.

Surprisingly, I’ve felt harder hit by the effects of three races in a weekend than I did by either marathon, although I won’t discount cumulative fatigue. Since March 2, I’ve run two marathons, two half marathons, two 10ks and two 5ks. I PR’d in 5 of those, even if they were rather ugly PRs.

/author/dancingmyself/20140613_120227_43347441.jpgOn my schedule, I have two half marathons and one 4-miler coming up between June 23 & July 13. I think I’m going to hold off on more races until my marathon after that. I want to give myself the best shot at running a 3:55 or better marathon in October.

My personal trainer Mike has plans to get me stronger and faster than ever, and I think it’ll be easier to get effective crosstraining if I’m not constantly racing and having to revise workouts to accommodate that. For instance, this week instead of doing agility training, we did dynamic stretching because my hip is kind of wrecked from the elevation changes in the Newton hills. My chiropractor said I jammed my thigh bone up into my hip in the descents. Not cool. I’m guessing weaker glutes are to blame, and to work on those optimally, I need to not be banging them up more as I strengthen them.

Back to the title of this post: once upon a time, the Baystate Marathon was at a prime time to qualify for the following spring Boston Marathon. But then the BAA moved the registration window to September.

I found this on the front page of the Baystate Marathon’s website:

Can I run the 2015 Boston Marathon if I qualify at the 2014 Baystate?

There is no easy answer to that question. Before 2010 the answer was always yes. In 2010 you may recall the BAA had serious problems with their registration system. In reaction (in our opinion over-reaction) they shifted the opening of registration to September. So now it depends on how quickly they sell out. This past year was well over subscribed and sold out before Baystate. In 2012 it closed two days before Baystate.

We have lobbied (and so have many inside the BAA) for registration to be pushed back until after the fall marathons. So far we have not been successful. But we continue to hope the BAA will make the adjustment, not just for Baystate, but for Philly, Chicago, Marine Corp, New York and all the other great fall marathons. You can help to [sic] asking the BAA to move the opening of registration until after Thanksgiving.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice for all of us running Philly, Chicago, New York and MCM if this timeframe could be changed?

I plan to look into who to contact at BAA to put in my two cents.

Meanwhile, I’ve started looking into charities to run for. I think the easiest option for me would be to run for MS because both my father-in-law and sister-in-law had/have the disease and our family already donates to the cause, so why not donate it through me raising awareness. The other possible charity is the New England Aquarium, which is near and dear to my childlike heart. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a marine biologist until I realized I didn’t really like biology class. But I still love sea creatures, especially turtles, sharks and seals. Hmm, maybe that’s why I put up with my swimming husband smelling like whatever he just swam in. Which is not always a good thing (Lee River in Cork, Ireland, I am talking to you. Ew.).

A part of me feels a little like I am giving up on an actual qualifying time, which given how my training went, should not be an issue if I can manage to not have GI problems. However, as anyone who’s run a distance race knows, it is a big IF as things happen and races don’t usually go perfectly despite a zillion contingency plans. This post is just what’s going through my head right now as I nurse my hip back to health and I try to not use running as a torture device on my body and mind.

Therefore, someone please remind me that I am trying to be sane about my racing because I keep eyeing a 10k for tomorrow morning in my usual running route. Bad idea. Even as I write this post, I am sitting on a heating pad and trying to buck myself up for a 60 minute run knowing that my last three runs have been uncomfortable and slow. But, sure, a race in the morning sounds like a swell idea.

Why the Boston Marathon?

Pretty much everyone who knows even a little about running and racing knows that the Boston Marathon is the Holy Grail of races. I read somewhere that fewer than 10 percent of runners ever qualify for the race.

This by itself is almost enough for me to put myself through the training to qualify and eventually run this race, but it isn’t the main reason.

Running has been an incredibly healing act for me. It’s not a secret I didn’t have the greatest parents and that I’ve spent the better part of my adulthood trying to untangle myself from the devastation. I made a ton of mistakes, including using alcohol to cope. I also have to be mindful that I don’t use my love of running to do further harm to myself. I’m prone to literally beating the crap out of myself, whether with drink or eating disorders or  self-mutilation (at one particularly dark time, I tried to break my arm and another my leg. Fortunately, I was unsuccessful). I’m sort of shocked that I found a decent husband and stable relationship with him. My marriage also is one of the biggest factors in me being able to fight for my self-worth.

Most of my bad behaviors were ways of diverting myself from the real underlying pain. By the time I got to therapy for the first time in my early 20s, it was already my default to self-destruct rather than feel anything. Somehow, I’ve managed to have at least some small instinct of self-preservation that drives me to seek help and wants to get better.

And I am better. Much better. But as my previous post showed, there are lingering effects that come out when I try to achieve something significant, even if it’s only significant to me. When the achievement is on the line, and not just a training run that no one sees except me, I hear my mother’s voice telling me I shouldn’t even be trying. Except it sounds like my own voice.

I learned at an early age that doing too well in anything would result in some sort of punishment, usually the withholding of affection or sometimes something more devious. I wasn’t always able to put together one over-the-top punishment and my mother’s resentment of me achieving things she could not. I just knew that my mother was one rage from killing me and I never knew what thing I might do would set it off. Being invisible was the best course of action.

Boston+Marathon+signageSo, not only do I start to doubt my ability in things, I also feel like I am not allowed to benefit from my abilities. I’m simultaneously afraid of failing and succeeding. It’s a nasty double-edged sword that I tend to fall on.

But I really want to stop.

The responses to my last post helped me greatly and warmed my heart. It also reminded me that despite how my parents discouraged going to outsiders when we were in need of help, I don’t have to be an island. So, I decided to mention briefly to my running coach a little more about why I struggle in races. She responded kindly and also is sending me a DVD by a sports psychologist that helps athletes with their mental struggles.

She also suggested a book by the same psychologist, Stan Beecham, called Elite Minds. I started reading it, and it’s a terrific book. I think it’s actually already working, as I thought about it today during my 13.1 mile training run. I was struggling with the pace, but I reflected back on what I’d read, and it helped me through. I want to do a more detailed review of the book in another post once I finish. The author had me at the disclaimer when he said that the book was not for me if I was looking to be happy. But if I was looking to be the best version of me, then this might be the right book to help me. This book might be for athletes, but everything I’ve read so far applies to children of narcissists. Beecham advocates truth, both good and bad, and encourages people to confront the false truths about ourselves. Beecham also quotes Scott Peck, which many ACoNs will recognize from his book on narcissism, People of the Lie.

I’m running the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Hat Trick in less than 2 weeks. I’m approaching these three races as a learning opportunity in several ways:

1) The 5k race is an hour before the 10k, so I get to test out doing a longer warm up run before a race.

2) Both the 10k and the half marathon are on the infamous Boston Marathon Newton hills. I’m excited to arm myself for my future Boston race with experience of running these hills.

3) I’m participating in a shakeout run with Bart Yasso on Friday evening. Totally running-geeked out about this.

4) They are offering several seminars on running. In particular, Shalane Flanigan is talking about how women’s running is different, and there will be a seminar on course strategy for the half marathon.

5) I’ll find out how my body deals with 3 races in two days. I have to admit, this sounded much more daunting when I signed up and before I ran two marathons.

6) iPods and earphones are discouraged, so I’ll be running sans an audiobook. I’ve been thinking about trying this in races anyway since I tend to not remember anything I’ve listened to when racing.

7) I won’t be running for time. I plan to enjoy the hell out of myself while running part of the Boston Marathon course. No pressure, just practice.

The weekend will be about preparing me to run better, be a part of the running community and help me get that elusive BQ.

But why is Boston so damn important to me?

Well, I was born in Newton, Massachusetts, home of the Heartbreak Hill. I want to be reborn, goddamn it. I am going to crest those hills and cross the Boston Marathon finish line triumphant. The act of running is my journey to taking my life back.



We’re back from visiting our bad child (we call him that to his face — I think he likes it) at college. His roommate seems like a nice kid. We took them both out for Mexican near Fenway Park (La Verdad — definitely recommended) for dinner then yesterday we took them to Five Napkin Burgers (also recommended).

My son also had us bring his Alvarez guitar to school. Apparently a couple other kids in the dorm play and he wants to jam with them. My son isn’t very proficient at guitar as he only took lessons for about six months last year and never noodled around on his own, but he’s eager to learn from the other boys, who I hear can shred like nobody’s business. Getting him into guitar was part of my evil plan. He’s not really got hobbies beyond online games and cooking (which he can’t do in his dorm), so I felt like he should have something to do with his free time. Being able to play a musical instrument is a fun skill to have.

Of course, my evil plan backfired on he since he wants to use the skill to woo girls.

I’m excited that we have a full 17 days before we need to travel anywhere. It’s been so long since I have been home that I’m having dreams about cleaning and organizing all my crap. And these are good dreams!

20131020-115716.jpgI did sign up for a race next year. Runner’s World magazine is hosting a brand new event in Boston next June: Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill. It comprises of three days of races in Newton, Massachusetts, a children’s fun run, a 5k, 10k and half. I’m going for the “hat trick” and running all three adult races. I think this will be great preparation for trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2015, especially since the courses actually include Boston’s infamous Heartbreak Hill.

I’m also seriously eyeing the Indianapolis Mini Marathon in May (thanks Tia! Get your laces tied!) as well as an April full marathon in Raleigh, NC near one of my good friend’s home. If I run that marathon, I’ll be using the Jeff Galloway method and treating the race as a test run for getting used to the distance. I still haven’t decided what full marathon to do to try for a Boston qualifier. I guess I have time for that.

But for now, I’m just happy to be home and feeling a little more normal (well, as normal as I ever feel, which isn’t very). Tonight a friend is coming over to watch the rest of Dexter (we are sooooo behind) and have dinner. My husband is out helping friends build a fence and I’m going to yoga and to meet with a chi running coach. It’s a beautiful fall day out. Can’t ask for much more.

We Race

Tomorrow I compete in my second 5k. My main goal is to beat last week’s time. I did a test run/walk of the course yesterday, and it went fine considering I was still pooped from the previous day’s personal training session. I swear I get stupider by the end of those workouts, as if no blood is getting to my brain because it’s in service to my body. Which is a good thing; I think too much anyway.

I’ve done a lot of running this week, but I’m taking today off. I’m going to do a light yoga routine at home and some yard work, eat some sweet potatoes, drink plenty of fluids, then get my ass to bed at a reasonable time. The last is always my kryptonite.

The event tomorrow is a bigger one than last week’s, although it is held in the same park and both share the same main loop. My trainer is competing as well, which weirdly makes me nervous. She admitted to being a little nervous herself because she’s not been focused on running in her own training, and she has clients and other people who know her that she doesn’t want to see her look lame. It’s good to know that athletic people above mere mortals like me worry too. But I suspect she’s going to kick ass. Knowing she’ll likely be at the finish line when I come huffing along will be more impetus to finish the race strong. I don’t want to let either of us down.

It’ll be interesting to see what people are saying regarding the Boston Marathon. I’m sure there will be Boston shirts and tributes given. I think I’ll have in my head Mulderfan’s words of “fuck em” regarding the people who committed the Boston bombing.

I thought this tribute run done in San Francisco, as shown in the map below, was a wonderfully clever thing to do. Maybe I’ll see if I can recreate one myself locally. I don’t live in a town mapped out quite so nicely as SF, but the attempt might be worth it.


Echoing Craig Ferguson

I had just finished my workout and gotten off the treadmill when the bomb explosions happened. Most of the time, the TV is on in the locker room, but not yesterday. I was dragging ease the workout wore me out, but I was thrilled I’d made it through.

It was my until I returned home a little later that I heard the news.

I can’t imagine the feelings of those runners and their friends and families. To have weed so hard to get there, to be doing something totally innocent and exciting only to have some cowards rip it to shreds. The Boston Marathon is not a political event. It’s not even about haves and have nots. It’s about people doing their personal best and those who were cheering them on.

What sort of assholes destroy something like that? It makes no point, it just makes them look like deranged bullies. You can’t figure out a better way to voice yourself, so you speak with weapons against the defenseless.

Like Craig Ferguson said last night, I am sick of this shit.

I was born in Boston. I have family there. It is the city my son is most likely to attend college this fall. I love Boston. People were running for charity. A child was killed and several injured. A 78 tear old man who was about to cross the finish line was knocked over. Over 100 people from the local runners club I just joined were in the race. A friend of my husband and his family were there. I’m a runner. I’m an American. I’m a human being. Damn right I’m taking this personally. I guess the bombers were successful in that regard.

I do understand one thing the perpetrators might be feeling: I am angry enough to want to hurt them. But I won’t be planting any bombs and sneaking away from the devastation.

Fear is a terrible thing, a terrible weapon to wield and it takes a cruel person to wield it. I may never qualify for the Boston Marathon, but I will run my races with them in my heart. And I’m thinking about watching the race in Boston from the sidelines next year. Bullies must not win.