Do ya’ feel lucky, punk?
– Clint Eastwood
After missing the Boston Marathon cutoff by 2 seconds last year and 1 second this year, I do not feel particularly lucky. But I do feel fortunate. And hopeful. We were able to turn that 2 seconds last year into $12,000 to help disabled kids through Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm. And I’m not giving up on running Boston 2015 because of one lousy second! That’s not what us runners do.
So, I spent part of the day lobbying editors of running magazines and websites to see if they have any interest in helping get the word out. I am planning to participate in the Boston charity bib program and make it rain for some deserving cause. All I’m missing now is a cause with an extra Boston bib. Send me a note at email@example.com if you have any leads for me!
Here’s the piece I penned for those editors to see if we could pique their interest:
IN A BOSTON SECOND
I had just taken a celebratory selfie in the finishing chutes when a second later the first of two percussive blasts rolled down Boylston Street. A fellow runner posited, “maybe it’s a celebration.” It was not.
The Tsarnaev brothers did not care that it was a marathon or that it was Boston. A world CNN stage, regardless of locale, was their target.
But runners everywhere took particular offense.
Whether you log miles in Europe or Kenya or St. Louis, all hold Boston sacred. At that moment, I vowed to return every year out of respect and resilience. At least for as long as I was able to meet the lofty Boston Marathon qualifying standard.
Like many other runners of limited natural ability, Boston does not come easy. It takes months of training and a fortuitous race-day nod from the marathon gods to earn a blue & golden ticket to the greatest footrace on the planet. The Boston Marathon is exclusive but it is not elitist. Average talent and months of serious training will trump wealth and social status.
A cruel temptress, just out of reach most of the time. On a good day, I catch the unicorn. That was the case last year crossing the finish line in St. Louis with a BQ (runner lingo for “Boston qualifier”). The sun sparked off the Gateway Arch vaulting toward the gold dome of the Massachusetts State House. I was shipping up to Boston. Or so I thought.
With tighter standards imposed in 2011, a BQ would ensure near-automatic entry into the race. But after April 2013, every marathoner put Boston on their bucket list. Adam Smith’s invisible hand tipped the supply/demand balance such that there were no longer enough race slots to accommodate every runner qualified to run the race. A seemingly random cutoff was imposed to allow the fastest qualified runners entry into the race. The line had to be drawn somewhere.
That somewhere was one second faster than my qualifying time. I missed Boston by a second. That might sound like bad karma, but it was 50% better than when I missed the cutoff by two seconds the previous year. Progress, I suppose.
The Boston Athletic Organization has always been generous in providing numerous slots for charity runners. This past year I was able to run in support of Challenge Unlimited and their effort to help kids with disabilities. We raised $12,000. Well worth those two seconds.
I hope to once again make the journey from Hopkinton to Boston on April 20, 2015. Do you have a charity slot available? Let’s make that one second count.
Thanks for your help, wish me luck.
p.s. Thank you, Chris Russell, for the advice and continued motivation!