Saturday, October 8, 2016

My last Boston Marathon (for a long time, at least)

It's official.  I got into the 2017 Boston Marathon.

Registration after my first BQ was a real nail biter, and I missed the cut by less than a minute. I was put through the ringer again during registration after my second BQ, though this time I made the cut,  again by a margin of less than a minute.  But this year I went into registration with a cushion of 8 minutes and 54 seconds below my age and gender's qualifying standard (aided by the fact that I moved up an age group).  For the first time, I got to register during the first week, and I never had a doubt that I would get in.  It was definitely a nice change of pace.

For the record, I do love Boston and am very much looking forward to this April, but this will undoubtedly be my last Boston Marathon for a very long time.  I would love to someday run it with Neale, but I'll be in my fifties or sixties if that ever happens.  So for now, I'm hanging it up. But why?  Why am I not one of those obsessive marathoners that comes back every year? My years-long obsession with Boston certainly pointed to that trend, but instead I'm calling it quits after just two times.

Here are a few reasons:

1. The new registration system.

I have a love/hate relationship with the new registration system.  Had it never been implemented, I probably would have been happy with my former 3:09:45 PR and never would have pushed myself to the outer limits of my abilities and chased my true potential.  I love that it favors faster runners, keeping the competitive spirit of the race alive.  But I also hate that it favors the faster runners, because these are the people for whom Boston may not be as big of a deal.  The people that chase the dream for years and are elated to have finally qualified, are the ones most likely to be left out.  Because of the new system, every year there are thousands of runners who qualify but still don't get into the race.  If I keep doing Boston year after year, I'm taking a spot from one of those people.

2. I'm tired.

I've never been one of those runners that can just go and knock out another BQ any day of the week.  Or even better, one of those runners that just re-qualifies at Boston every year and never has to run a different marathon.  No, qualifying was never something that came easy for me, and I don't know that it ever will.  It took months of very literal blood, sweat and tears to achieve each of those 3 BQ's, and each BQ was achieved at the expense of other areas of my life.  Frankly, I'm just tired of the physical and mental strain and the sacrifices involved to keep running at that level.  I've qualified 3 times. I've run Boston once, soon to be twice.  I've proven to myself and others that I can do it, so I'm left with the existential question of: what's the point?  Why keep pushing myself to the breaking point over and over just to return to Boston as many times as possible?

3. I've reached my peak.

This kind of goes along with #2.  I truly enjoy running long distances, and I hope to run marathons well into my twilight years.  But in terms of speed, I believe I've done all I can with the marathon distance.  To be clear, I don't really think I've reached my peak.  I'm only 35, and if I had all the time and money in the world to train properly, I'm sure I could run a faster marathon in the next few years.  But I've done what I can given my life's other responsibilities, and I'm happy leaving it at that.  Achieving a 4th BQ would be slightly less Herculean of a task than running a PR, of course, and true, my BQ time will slow as I creep up through the age groups, but it still won't be easy.  I'm not one to shy away from hard work, I just want to apply hard work to other, newer goals.  I'm finished setting goals for the marathon.

4. I hate training through the winter.

The first time I trained for Boston, I ran over 800 miles through one of the most heinous winters on record.  I don't belong to a gym and I don't own a treadmill, so I was constantly running double digits through snow, ice, wind, and single digit temperatures.  I was fairly miserable for a good 90 percent of my training, and the only thing that kept me going was the idea of running my first Boston.

True, that particular winter could have just been an anomaly (last winter was much milder, for instance), but if you ask me, one long run in the snow is one too many.  Fall marathons are truly where it's at.

5. The cost.

I did an entire post on this after my first Boston, but the gist is this: Boston is expensive. Travel, lodging, eating out, the entry fee for the marathon itself... it all adds up quickly.  With a new house and a single income, the budget just isn't there to take a lot of trips throughout the year.  Spending so much money year after year on a trip that really is only about me and not about Stevie or Neale just isn't fair.  I'd much rather spend the money on going some place new that we can all enjoy.

So there you have it.  The top 5 reasons this will be my last Boston (for the foreseeable future).  What do you think, internet?  Have you run Boston multiple times?  Are you striving to reach it right now? Do you think Boston is overrated and have no interest in ever running it? Let me know!


  1. Great post...I totally get it! Next year is the year I train for a 3rd marathon, this time with BQ goal in my sights. When I ran my first two, it was to finish and then run it with a friend. If I BQ and *if* I make the cut, I will be elated and more than satisfied to run it once. Chasing the unicorn... :)

    1. Hi Martha, thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting! Good luck in your BQ attempt!

  2. Isnt running in the heat worse than running in the cold? We are considering moving from SW FL to Minneapolis actually.....

    1. Because I always run Philly, which is typically around November 20th, I can start training later in the summer at the end of July. So I really only have to endure a month of heat and humidity, and even then it's when my mileage is still low. The bulk of my mileage is done in the cooler months of September and October. But we can still get significant snow storms in March, right when I'm doing my longest long runs.

      My sister lives in St. Paul and I wanted to move there, but Stevie can't take the cold. Stevie expressed interest in moving to Florida where she is from, but I can't take the heat and lack of seasons.

    2. Scott, I obviously dont know you, so who am I to give advice. But, do NOT move to FLorida! Heat and Humidity for like 10 months a year, sometimes 11. Kids on Halloween were asking for water instead of candy bc it was so hot. No seasons. Flat concrete jungle. Retired people every where. No culture. Your teaching salary would likely be 15k less.... I could go on and on....

  3. I've qualified for Boston 4 times. I think going back would be like a crappy movie sequel after an awesome original. People ask me why I don't sign up again. You and I have a lot of the same reasons. I usually tell them "I just don't see how it could get any better." Most people think that is the ONLY running related goal in the world. Like, why run, unless you're trying to go to Boston? In their defense, you and I were kind of obsessed with it for a bit, there. I'd like to think we've refound some better use of our time and efforts. I wish you the best in 2017.
    Tom K. in Florida.
    P.s. I ran five miles barefoot on the 28th. There are times when living here is pretty cool!


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