There is an interesting article in this month's issue of Runner's World called "BQ or Die." It's about the surge of people attempting a BQ in recent years, the crushing number of people trying to get into Boston once they attain a BQ, and the Boston Athletic Association's response to it all. The article profiles several diehard Boston veterans and hopefuls, and it's interesting to see how similar I am to some of the people mentioned.
The article mentions that recessions and depressions are great times for self-help. "Self-help is a quest to control what we can control in a world that seems out of control," says Christine Whelan, Ph.D. Running a BQ "gives you a feeling of control and well-being that you might not be getting from your Dilbert-type job."
I was going through a horrible time last summer and fall, and training for the marathon while setting my sights on Boston gave me a very tangible and quantifiable goal. Hard work was not getting me anywhere in other aspects of my life, and I needed the reminder that hard work does pay off. The BQ was about more than just running; training for the marathon became a way to literally run away from the encroaching depression. When I crossed that finish line in 3:09:45, it was the single greatest physical accomplishment of my life and easily landed in my top 10 memories of all time. What depression?
I spent the days and weeks after the marathon eyeing that "BQ" in the far right column, truly in awe that I'd done it. And I wish now that I had more friends who run marathons. Maybe then I wouldn't have had to deal with the people in my life who have never experienced the marathon and mistook my obvious right to be proud of my accomplishments for hubris, narcissism and egotism. They'll never fully understand what that day - and what the marathon in general - mean to me.