Several weeks ago I signed up for the Providence Marathon.
Had I run a perfect race back in November, I would have been racing two weeks earlier in the Boston Marathon, but that was not to be. I crashed and burned in Manchester, literally limping in at just under 4 hours. I immediately began looking for another marathon to run in hopes of qualifying for this year. Unfortunately, I soon found out that Boston 2010 had closed 2 months earlier than the record close for 2009. Initially demoralized, I soon shook off the blues and convinced myself that 2010 would be the year of the qualifier and that I would be on that starting line in Hopkinton in 2011 come Hell or high water. I started looking for a Spring marathon to gauge where I was so that I could be ready for Bay State come October.
As 2010 began to unfold, I hit the treadmill…a lot. Something new was driving me. The miles started adding up quickly. A friend suggested that I run the Eastern States 20 (ran it yesterday – race report to follow) as my spring race. I paused when I saw that it was advertised as the perfect tune-up race for Boston. I sighed as I clicked the register button. I then found that a few dailymile and twitter friends were running the Providence Marathon on May 2nd. I did a little research and found the description very inviting. It didn’t look like a particularly difficult course. Though I hadn’t been “training” for a marathon, I had been putting in some pretty hefty miles. I thought that this could be my “gauge” marathon.
Starting at the end of February and over the following four weeks, I put in 50+ miles a week – 40 more than I ever had in that amount of time. Again, this push was coming from somewhere in the ether. Suddenly I began to think that maybe, just maybe, Providence could be an opportunity to qualify for Boston. I eagerly signed on. After my race at the Super Sunday 10K I was amazed to find that my vdot indicated that I could run a BQ with ease. Since it was based on a 10K, I took it with a grain of salt, but the thought continued to nag me. I began to do various math acrobatics in my head – if I run 8:00 miles for the first 10 and then 7:30’s for the next 10 that leaves me with…
On and on I went with the various combinations, planning, scheming, trying to figure out what would be the best strategy to get me within striking distance of a 3:20 marathon.
I could see Boston in the horizon. I was sure Providence would shine on me.
In fact, Providence DID shine on me.
I can see you tilting your head. How did Providence shine on you if it hasn’t happened yet?
Last Thursday, a teacher at my daughter’s school, one who was supposed to be my daughter’s teacher last year before having to take an unexpected leave of absence, tracked me down at afternoon pick up. She said she had heard I was looking for a number for this year’s marathon. I explained to her what my situation was. She obviously knew little about running so she cut right to the chase: her brother’s company created a version of the chip timer – the one being used in this year’s marathon. The BAA had given them a number of bibs to distribute at their discretion. After a fortunate recipient had sustained an unfortunate training ending injury, he called his sister and asked if she knew anyone who would be interested in taking the bib.
Wait a minute! You’re offering a Boston number to me?
Unbelievably I hemmed and hawed and said I would have to take a day to think it over. Yeah, I know. What the Frak! You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Luau!
But here’s the thing – after my meltdown of a race in November, I was even more convinced that I had the ability to qualify in me. I wanted my first Boston to be one that I had qualified for. I kept flashing to the moment in Spirit of a Marathon where one of the runners in the movie says, “there are runners, there are marathoners, and then the are Boston Qualifiers.”. It still gives me chills.
As far as I knew, there were 2 ways to get to Boston: you either ran a qualifying time in another marathon or you raised a lot of money for a charity. Charity would have been difficult this year, considering the downturn in the economy and the fact that as a family we had just done a large amount of fund raising for Autism Speaks. I just felt I could not tap into my friends again so soon.
It never crossed my mind that a number could just be handed to me, out of nowhere, unexpectedly – heaven sent.
Needless to say I came to my senses within 30 minutes (thanks to the wife whacking me upside the head) and very gratefully, very humbly accepted the number.
A gift from the running gods? I am not particularly a religious man, but I do know that I have spent the last year and a half preaching the wonders of running to whomever will listen. Perhaps the running gods have been listening too.