Okay folks, I’m so excited! Approximately 205 days ago I woke up feeling optimistic and nervous for my second attempt to run The Phoenix Marathon and qualify for the historic Boston Marathon.
I trained all winter in cold and snowy Utah and felt prepared despite some Achilles Tendinitis that popped up late in January when my mileage was highest at 203 total miles.
I choose the Phoenix Marathon because it was a flat course and I wanted to see what I was capable of. No down hill advantage, but 100% of me, propelling myself forward for 26.2 miles.
To be honest, my gut really hates marathons. The longer I run, the more my gut and heart rate seem to conspire and rebel against me. (no thank-you Crohn’s Disease) Perhaps it’s that way for everyone? You can read more about my 2018 Phoenix marathon experience here. Maybe that’s why the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon in 2019 means so much to me.
It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t come quickly. In June 2013, I ran my first marathon, the Utah Valley Marathon with a time of 4:44:16.
The first half went great until I “hit the wall” at mile 21. I’d never heard of salt pills, tempo runs and honestly had no real idea of what I was doing. My oldest daughter walked and ran with me the last 4 miles of the race, providing much needed mental support and encouragement.
The race was such a bad experience that I wasn’t in any hurry to run one again. Sure it was awesome I ran a marathon, but I didn’t love doing it, so I didn’t even consider the idea of a marathon again for 3 years.
In 2016, my half-marathon times were slowly coming down so I decided to try a marathon again, and this time have Coach Paul train me.
I picked a winter-marathon so I’d be forced to get outside and run in the cold, thus being rewarded with a vacation to a warmer location. I chose the Phoenix Marathon because I have family I could stay with and keep the expense of traveling for a race to a minimum. In an effort to really motivate myself, I set my sights on qualifying for Boston. That meant, for my second marathon ever, I would need to shave AN HOUR off my time. Looking back now, I know what a lofty goal that was.
On February 25, 2017, I woke up in Phoenix to diarrhea and stress. My body wasn’t 100% and once again, everything fell apart at mile 21.
My oldest daughter who joined me for the trip, ran the last few miles with me. While I was better prepared and finished with a 4:16:24, (and a 28 minute PR) which was great, my time not good enough to qualify.
Whether it simply takes time or maybe even my body with it’s numerous health challenges takes a little longer to adapt; after my marathon in 2017, all of my half marathon times continued to improve and come down. For the first time ever, I placed in the top 3 for my age group in a half-marathon and found myself feeling hungry and ready for another crack at Boston.
Using the same motivation, goals and race, Coach Paul once again trained me through the 2017-18 winter and this time informed me he’d be joining me for my race in Phoenix.
Everything came together on race day and I finally had the race I’d wanted 2 years before. When I crossed the finish line with a 3:40:01 (5 minutes under my age qualifying time and new 36 minute PR) I cried because I’d finally accomplished what I’d set out to do.
While there is no guarantee that the Boston Marathon will have room for me, (I’m keeping my fingers crossed) I am so grateful for the privilege and opportunity to have worked hard to make a dream come true and even be able to apply.
I dread winter, but I really look forward to running through the snow and cold again this year, saying, “Boston, Boston, Boston” as I run hill repeats, speed workouts and give it all I got. The 123rd annual 2019 Boston starting line is waiting, I’ve only got 210 more days to go.