Monday, February 22, 2010


qua-li-fy: v. to be fitted or competent for something

qualify, qualify, qualify. if you say it enough times it loses it's meaning.. it begins to sound like a chemical additive, or a breed of rare flower. though the meaning of the word is straightforward to the average person, it means only one thing to a runner.
Boston. as in, did you qualify? are you qualified? for you lay people - did you run a previous marathon fast enough to be allowed into the world's most famous footrace?
stand in the corral at a marathon or chat with someone post weekend 5k and what do you hear? just want to qualify. wonder if i could ever qualify. am i too old? do i have it in me? what do you have to run? to prove my point that qualification is synonymous with the the boston marathon, i searched the word "qualify" on google images. the 10th picture that came up was a photo of the last winner of the race, crossing the finish line.

here's the thing about boston, and MY thing about boston: i am not an elitist - politically, religiously or athletically. the thing that i love about running is that running is for everybody. it does not require some special coordination or agility, there is little financial burden associated with it, as there is no equipment to buy. you could run right now! what are you wearing - dress pants and a tie.. get up, loosen your tie and go! see... no expensive racket or clubs, no ball, no court fees.. you just go. that's not to say that everyone can be a fast runner. there's only one usain bolt. but you can be fast for you.. if you want to be, and if you don't - that's cool too. i like that running is inclusive. i believe that each runner's journey - training and race- is just as important as the next. this is why i don't like boston. you see, the only way to run boston is if you have deep enough pockets (or friends with deep pockets) to buy your way in by raising money for charity. or if you are faster than. than what, who is to say - probably faster than your next door neighbor or some of the people in your training group. fast enough to meet the time cut offs, anyway.
the boston marathon began limiting runners with qualification times because the field was getting too big, and they could not provide support for all of the people who wanted in. some cities have this problem, and some ultras as well and they solve it with a lottery system. but not boston. they decided that they would only allow the best and fastest to run. therefore, if a runner ever tells you that they qualified for boston it is a quantifiable achievement. you don't need to compare 10k PRs with a qualifier - just to know they qualified and you didn't makes them 'better' than you.
now, i don't fault the folks who run this race or who set the qualifying times. this was the way they wanted to do it, and that is fine by me. though, i always rolled my eyes at it - boston, schmoston- who cares about boston! i'll run my small local race where everyone gets to be included, thank you very much. that was until i looked at the qualifying chart.
i only have to run a 3:40. my husband, god bless him, has to run a 3:10... which seems like a huge disparity to me... one that works obviously in my favor and supports the idea that the times are severely gender biased. but a 3:40? if i worked really hard i bet i could do a 3:40 later this year. if i wanted to. and i don't.
i think.
here's the thing - i don't really want to run the boston marathon. i've been to boston, it's beautiful, really.. but i don't care about the dang race. but, as it stands right now, the BAA wouldn't let me in their silly race, and it kind of chaps my ass. i don't get the choice. but what if i had the choice? what if i could say that i were good enough and turned it down? what does it mean to me? to others? and is it more about the competition we have in life to be better than than it is to better myself as a runner? probably. but should that stop me from trying....?

i know i don't have 3:40 in me this spring. but who knows what the year holds for me, it is constantly evolving. as soon as i think i am locked into something i second guess myself. so probably not this year. probably. i think.
but i have 4 more years to get my 3:40. that seems like eternity. and even then- after 4 yrs the standard goes down, not up. so, i'm sure of it now. one day..
one day i'll say i am "qualified".


Anonymous said...

i want to qualify for it but don't want to run it.
Liz F

shel said...

liz, you only have to run a 3:50. you could do that this year!

Anonymous said...

geez louise,10 minutes for 11yrs age difference?wow!