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A year ago this week I wrote a series of blog posts leading up to the 2010 Boston Marathon.  Those posts were about Doubt, Belief, Faith and Hope.  Each one was written to keep me focused on the upcoming marathon with the effect hopefully being that I would BQ at Boston.  Looking back, I realize that it is what I needed at the time to justify my presence.

To a degree, I had no business being there – my bib had practically fallen out of the heavens.  I was neither a charity runner nor a qualifier.  In retrospect, my training had been haphazard at best.  I wanted to believe I was capable of running a 3:20 in that race, but I knew it was unlikely.

In the end, the last 10K of the marathon was able to hold me down long enough to dash my BQ hopes.  I finished with a respectable 3:32 – a 22-minute PR.  I was happy and disappointed.

***

This year is different.

I earned my spot through qualifying back in October.  My training for this cycle has been disciplined.  I have run more miles in the last 4 months than in any other 4 month stretch in my life.  I have no doubt that given good conditions, I will re-qualify (3:20) with room to spare, and may vastly improve my position in the rolling registration process for next year by taking a shot at 3:10.  I have a burning desire to finish strong and fast, but like I said, this year is different.  I don’t have the doubt.  I don’t have the worry.  If the weather doesn’t cooperate and the temperatures shoot up to 80°, I am not going to run in despair.  I will still run hard, but I will also know that I won’t run a 3:10 or a 3:15 or maybe even a 3:20.  But that’s okay.  I know what I am capable of if the conditions are right.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not resting on my laurels of qualifying.  The truth is, if I don’t improve on my time from October, the likelihood is that I will be shut out of the marathon in 2012 because of the new registration process.  My desire, my strong burning desire is to run Boston every year, but I know that if I don’t make it back in 2012, I will in 2013 or 2014 or 2015.

I don’t have to convince myself this year that I belong.  I know I do.

What a difference a year makes.

***

No matter the conditions, I will run hard.  No matter the time, I will take satisfaction in knowing I did so.  In the end, isn’t that all we can ask of and expect of ourselves? 

Did you run hard?

Did you leave it all on the course?

If I can answer yes to both of those questions, no matter what happens, I will be happy.

Best of luck to my fellow 2o11 Boston Marathoners.

May you run hard.

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