With a hint of Celtic green

I need to fess up to something.  And I’m going to employ a not-so-subtle analogue.

Do you remember when you were a freshman in high school and no one asked you to the Homecoming Dance?  And even though you thought the dance was pretty stupid, you were still a little hurt?  So then you pretended to totally not care because this dance was soooooo not a big deal and there would be billions of other dances to go to so what’s so special about this one, anyway?

And then all of your friends were buying dresses for the dance? And you were all like: HA!  At least I don’t have to buy a stupid dress!  Or sway awkwardly to Boyz II Men songs!  I’ll be chillin’ on my couch in my oversize Mossimo shirt and Converse One-Stars, eating Pop-Tarts and watching Daria reruns!  Suckas!

But really, deep down, you wish you were going to the dance too?

Monday is the big dance, and I definitely was not invited.

But this time, I don’t have the injustice of adolescence to blame.  It’s my own damn fault.  I’m just too damn slow.

Unlike your asshole ninth-grade classmates, the Boston Athletic Association doesn’t care which cafeteria table you sit at.  You hit a certain time, and you’re invited.  (Well…I guess that’s changed a little now, but it’s still mostly true, just with faster times.)   You could be the kid in the corner with smelly socks, fussing with his Magic: The Gathering cards over a pile of soggy tater tots.  You’d still be invited to the dance if you ran fast enough.

The Boston Marathon Club is one that recognizes not who you are, but how good you are.  And, in most peoples’ cases,  how hard you’ve worked to get there.

I think that’s why I’m feeling a little sting of envy right now.  Because I am good.  And I did work hard.  I just…couldn’t quite get there.

Some people spend years chasing the Boston mark, making it the focal point of their training.  I’ve never really done that.  To be completely honest, I always just sort of assumed I’d fall in to a qualifying time at some point, and that would be that.  I’d been close, and my race times in other distances always predicted that I should be able to easily hit 3:40.

A couple of years ago, after a decade of running marathons and missing the (old) mark, several times, by less than ten minutes, I started to get a little frustrated.

So last spring, right after I signed up for the Chicago marathon the following October, I started actually training.  I joined a good running club full of fast people.  I re-introduced myself to the concept of speedwork.  I cleaned up my diet (a little) and increased my mileage and dropped 10 pounds of superfluous weight.

I got faster.  Not as fast as I was when I was younger, but more than fast enough to run an 8:20-pace marathon, by any objective standard.

At some point, I apparently got pretty cocky.  As the summer days grew longer, I subconsciously revised my internal goal for Chicago.  “Eff 3:40,” I thought to myself.  “I can do 3:30.  3:25, maybe.  Boston 2011?  Like, duh.  No big deal.”

Suddenly Boston wasn’t even on my radar anymore.  I had bigger ambitions.  And like the dorky kid who rapidly ascends the popularity ladder, I quickly adopted an attitude of indifference about the goals I’d previously lauded.

“Yeah, I suppose I’ll run Boston next year,” I would say.  As if Boston would be lucky to have me grace its registration coffers with my credit card number.

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you how this ends.  I sorta bombed Chicago.  My summer of intensified training got me…exactly the same time I’d run in so many marathons past.  And I missed Boston by less than ten minutes.  Again.

In truth, though, missing Boston didn’t really bother me at the time.  I was too busy having a mini-crisis of personal identity with respect to my running, and concluding (probably correctly) that I just wasn’t very good at racing marathons, and should perhaps focus on shorter distances.

When the 2011 race filled up in record time – and subsequently, rumors of tightening qualification standards circulates – I felt oddly….indifferent.  It was kind of like: Wow, now everyone is making an even bigger deal out of this damn marathon in Boston.  I officially don’t care.  I have other fish to fry.

Which I do.  And I’m frying them.  And it’s going pretty well.

But…as April 18 has approached, I must admit I’ve started feeling a little envious.  Because I could be and should be joining in the excitement right now.  A cocktail of jealousy and regret and self-loathing, shaken over ice.

Yeah.  Pretty much like freshman year of high school, all over again.

Except…unlike high school, there is absolutely nothing arbitrary or unfair about the situation.  I could have been there if I had just run a little faster.  Completely my own fault.  Ugh.

This isn’t to say I’m not insanely excited for my friends who are racing Boston.  As much as I try to pretend that it’s not a big deal – well, it is kind of a big deal.  I am so proud and thrilled for each and every one of my friends and teammates and blogpeople and twitterbots who are running.

But if I sound a little sad and jealous while stalking bib numbers on Monday?  Well…at least I can say I’ve owned it.

It’s not easy being green.

Today’s EAT: A pint of beer, a bowl of gooey macaroni and cheese, and a patio table with co-workers beckoned tonight.  Healthy homemade dinner plans = out the window.

However, I’ve been doing some light reading this week.

Really?  This seems too good to be true.  Apparently I need to invest in a pizza stone and a “non-airtight dough bucket.”

Stay tuned for further adventures (?) in bread-making.

Today’s DRINK: I tasted this Boulder Brewing Company Mojo IPA for the first time last night.

Last night’s impression: “This is like drinking a banana laffy taffy.”  It was so oddly sweet and….well, banana flavored.

Tonight’s impression: “This…just tastes like a so-so IPA.”  I don’t know where the banana went, but I’m not tasting it now.  So weird.

Overall, not a bad little bottle of beer.  Random banana flavor and all.  And the bottle is super fun.  (Purchased at Whole Foods, $9.99/six.  7.2% ABV.)

Today’s RUN: A really mediocre 4 miles, eked out this morning with the expectation of  a second evening run.  Enter: beer and mac and cheese.  Sigh.

Today’s QUESTION: Are you running Boston this year?   Let me know, so I can stalk you!  Hey, now that I’m probably never going to run the damn thing, I have to live vicariously thorough someone!

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37 responses to “With a hint of Celtic green

  1. if it makes you feel any better, i’m green whenever i hear anyone talk about racing anything!!! bah.

  2. No Boston for me. I’m way way too slow. I can’t even break 4 hours even though that should be simple. I did, however, go to my freshman year homecoming dance, and I totally rocked a dress from 5-7-9 and a Jennifer Aniston hair-do.

  3. We didn’t have many dances in my high school. For us, it was a big thing of which freshmen/sophomores would get invited to prom by the upper classmen. I didn’t make the cut my freshman year, but my friends and I assured ourselves it was because we weren’t willing to put out like the other girls were… sluts…

  4. I ran Boston last year and it was pretty amazing. If it’s any consolation, I qualified at age 40 so didn’t have to be quite so speedy. You will get to Boston one of these days! (FYI: I qualified at Pocono marathon–great course, small race so no congestion, well-organized)

  5. yay, I also ran 4 mediocre miles! VICTORY IS OURS.

    Mojo Risin’ is their double IPA version of Mojo, I really like it but a lot of people don’t.

  6. Hey, feeling bummed about it and owning the fact that you feel that way is just fine in my book.

    No Boston for me – not now, and probably not ever. I have no natural ability and I don’t have the willpower to push myself THAT hard, and that’s something I have to own, I guess! At this point, I’m hoping to finish my HALF marathon in around the time the guy I know BQ’d in (3 hrs). My knee is acting up, my training has been going badly, and … yep. It’s my own fault.

  7. Your honest look at situations is always great. Love the high school analogy. Anyhow, no Boston for me either. I do have it on my “bucket list” so to speak. I think if I can train for and run a decent marathon once I’m over 50 or 60, then maybe Boston will be within my grasp. 🙂

    And I love this…
    “I think that’s why I’m feeling a little sting of envy right now. Because I am good. And I did work hard. I just…couldn’t quite get there.”

    Glad to see you recognize that you DID work hard and you ARE good. I think if you really want to get to Boston, you will when the time is right. Sounds cheesy, but you’re too good a runner for me to believe otherwise.

  8. Are you running Chicago again in 2011? Or any other Boston qualifier in the Chicago area?

    I ask because my boyfriend is a pacer, but he’s not working Chicago, he does that one just for fun. He paced at least 6 women to BQ finishes last season, maybe more, I lost count at some point. We are from Chicago and that’s his favorite race, and I know he’d love to run it with somebody who has Boston as a goal again. He’s very motivational, and a hell of a fun guy.

    Save my email address, contact me, keep it in mind. You’ll get there! 🙂

    I am not running Boston, but I’ll be there as a spectator for him. We leave tomorrow morning.

    • I’m looking at fall marathons, but I didn’t sign up for Chicago (and I’m sure it’s full now) so that’s probably not in the cards this year. I’ll keep your offer in mind though. Thanks!

      Good luck to your BF on Monday! And have fun spectating too!

  9. Don’t worry too much. All the Boston Qualifiers do is wish they were Olympic Qualifier fast.

    People faster than that just worry that they missed out on drinking good beer and cooking good food. And thus the cycle of jealousy is complete.

    • What does it make me if I’m a non-Boston-qualifier AND I’m worried about missing out on good beer? Yikes!

      *runs to the fridge for an IPA*

      Great point, though. 🙂

  10. “Unlike your asshole ninth-grade classmates, the Boston Athletic Association doesn’t care which cafeteria table you sit at.”

    One of the funniest things I have read!

    Don’t feel bad, you know how my Boston goal finished in Chicago. I am feeling a little green too.

  11. I feel your pain. I’m from Boston. And whenever anyone learns you are a runner and from Boston, take a wild guess what the first question is? I’m from a running family and have been racing for years, but I have yet to take on any marathon and I think it is because I feel like I will be carrying BQ on my back the entire time.
    But just keep thinking to yourself – you just ran a kick ass half and some solid 5ks. And you went on a fun ski trip – you might have gone if you knew you had this race coming up. And you got to run a half with your hubs.
    Or you can always join the second half of the Boston race – the ones who pay approximately $10K to run 26.2 miles and wear purple. Me he he.

  12. i get green too about the marathon. but because everyone gets so damn excited about it. and i’m not excited at the moment. it makes me feel like a freak. i know, i know, tough problem to have, right? i know why people get excited but i get more jazzed for my shorter races. they’re the ones i want to talk about and brag that i’m doing

    i’m glad you can recognize that you worked hard. because you did dammit!

  13. I’ll never qualify for Boston in a million years so I really don’t get worked up about it, though I track friends and watch on the web. But for someone like you who really does have the talent to make it, I am sure it’s frustrating. Or maybe, unlike that 9th grade dance thing, part of it is being adult enough to be able to talk it all out like this and realize you’re a little jealous and that’s as annoying as the race time.

    You are young, though! Lots of time to keep trying if it is what you really want to do.

  14. I understand your feelings. The Boston is put on this big pedestal. And if you have not run it, you want to experience what all the hoopla is about.
    When I qualified for Boston at my first marathon, I had no intention of running it. But was told by everyone, you gotta do Boston. So I did.
    And now, years later, I am glad I did it.
    However, (and I am probably committing blasphemy here) I would not bother doing it again ( and the opportunity will probably never happen again, either). It is a marathon in Boston. It is huge, it is crowded, you have be bussed out to a field and wait forever to start at like noon….and when I ran it 2006, THERE WERE NO PORTA POTTIES ON THE COURSE!
    I could not believe a marathon with this much history and longevity did not provide this kind of support. It was a letdown.
    Anyway, bottom line…to me, it’s just another marathon that’s hard to qualify for and has a lot of quirky traditions. (and prestige)
    Don’t know if this helps with the Boston envy.
    But you are young and you never know what the future holds.

  15. You know what? WATCHING Boston and drinking a lot of beer while your at it is actually way more fun. 🙂 I mean, clearly I’m not running it (and you’ve got a helluva better chance than I do of running it some day!) so I’m embracing my ability to get a little hammered on Sunday night. Who’s with me?

  16. Oh, man. I totally understand the envy thing.
    I, however, feel like I’m not even in a class of runners who can even think about being jealous of BQ-ers. I feel like, to be jealous of BQ-ers, you have to be within realistic reach of BQ-ing, and seriously, I am soooo not even close and will never be.
    So, I am envious that you at least get to envy the BQers! If that makes any sense.

  17. I’m totally with Brie on this one. I don’t see BQ-ing as a realistic goal for myself either, so it’s pretty much pointless for me to be jealous or feel left out over it. I guess this is a bit of an exception though, because I’m not usually the type to envy things I know I flat-out can’t have. Like a car, for instance… I’m far more apt to be jealous of someone driving a 35k car I want vs a Ferrari. The 35k car dangles within semi-realistic reach if I could ever start making some money, whereas the Ferrari is just a laughable joke and I don’t even waste mental energy fantasizing about having one. But there’s this little tiny part of me holding out hope that Boston could someday be that semi-realistic goal, so I’m kinda angsty reading all the hype for Monday.

    So on that note, BRB, gotta focus on finishing 13.1 in < 2:30 tomorrow.

  18. No Boston for me. I’d have to drop 10-15 lbs and speed way up to even be close. But I’m fine with that. I’ve already done enough to make my parents and the people I care about proud. I don’t need a BAA jacket or all the cost of traveling to Boston.

    I see Boston hype as analogous to the hype surrounding elite college admissions. So much time and mainstream media space is dedicated to how to get in to Ivy Leagues or other elite colleges when so few college-going students attend a selective school. Most students go to non-selective institutions. There are ~600 marathons a year in this country and 99% of them do not require you to qualify. There’s something for everyone.

  19. Dude, you are an awesome runner. I would die a happy woman if I were even close to as fast as you are. Don’t get down on yourself – there are so many marathons. Personally, I would rather run a marathon in Athens than Boston. I’m really slow and I’ve never run a marathon…..so perhaps I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I think Boston is over-rated. Good beer and awesome food? That is not over-rated.

    You rock in my book!

    PS I asked a freshman (A FRESHMAN!!) to the prom becasue I didn’t have a date. And I wore a blue sequin mini dress that was full of winning.

  20. Oh, I have lots of problems with marathon jealousy. The most recent and perhaps most ridiculous one is that NOBODY MADE ME FEEL SPECIAL WHEN I RAN BOSTON SO WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE GETTING CARE PACKAGES??? No, really. My first year of grad school I didn’t know anyone that was seriously into running. The race is on a Monday, but Patriot’s Day is sort of questionable as a holiday, so my classmates were working. My roommate met me at the finish, and then went back to lab. I took the subway home by myself. I felt so lame, surrounded by all these people who were there with their significant others and families coming from out of state. Of course, now I actually hang out with runners, which is a good thing, since otherwise I’d probably have to resort to an ultramarathon with fire pits to impress anyone else at this point.

    I wouldn’t rule Boston out for yourself, though. If I can go from being a comparatively weak marathoner to a, well, still comparatively weak but 10 min faster marathoner, you can too!

  21. I would kill to run a sub-20 5K, so I think no matter what we accomplish, there’s always somebody to be jealous of. And if that’s true about the no porta potties thing, Monday might be the most miserable day of my existence.

  22. I have absolutely NO desire to ever actually run Boston…but qualifying would be pretty darn sweet!

    I skipped all my HS dances…except my Jr Prom, but I was on court and had a mandatory date.

  23. wow, thats exactly what it feels like. I thought I was so cool, that whether or not I made boston, running it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I didn’t qualify and I’m not going to be there. waah. All the cool kids are going!!

    I’m sure I’ll get over it. Just like I got through high school. Or I’ll go next year AND sit at the popular table.

  24. I never went to a single dance in high school. I liked to pretend it was my “thing”. Dances were stupid and I wasnt interested.
    Truth? No one ever asked, and I couldnt dance anyway. So I stayed home.

    As for Boston, yah, I wont be there. I ran a 5k in 33 minutes and nearly died. Actually, I nearly peed myself, but thats not the point at all. Running fast isnt my thing. Im amazed by anyone who can do faster than a 10 minute mile. Its not easy, I dont care what anyone says. Running is HARD.

  25. I am with you on this! Boston has always been THE race for me, and my history is not so dissimilar from yours, especially the part about falling apart in a race where I was better trained, prepared, etc. and ending with a time exactly the same as my previous marathons. Thanks for being so honest – this is a great post!

  26. You’ll make it to Boston–you’re not far off the mark now so if you don’t make it soon, just maintain and be patient and maybe you will in an older age bracket.

    Freshman Homecoming caused the biggest drama in my life to date: went with a sophomore…that my friend liked. Haha watch out!

  27. 😦 I’m sorry, Shelbs. One day you WILL get there. ((hugs))

    Um, is that bread book written by an M.D.? 🙂
    When you start baking more bread, I’ll have Dan recommend his books. I think one of his favorites is Tartine Bread.

  28. Ditto Christy – you WILL get there!!

    I’m really interested in making my own breads as well… let us know how it goes 🙂

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