Wait, is this a crisis?
In my last post, Don't Make it a Crisis Until It's a Crisis, I relayed my tale about running a marathon. I took you through the ups and downs, and made it clear that it wasn't exactly a walk in the park. I talked about how in the midst of the race, my mind started to race as well. Accordingly, it went to those dark places we all visit occasionally, where it seems logical to freak out about everything under the sun, including the current situation (in my case, the marathon).
To further recap, on that marathon day that was wicked windy, I had a few aches and issues that were making my run less than ideal. Yet, miraculously, I managed to keep a semi-decent pace, and call upon my inner strength so that I could accomplish my goal- beat that wicked day so I could qualify to be a "wicked runner" in the only place where it sounds cool to say "wicked"... Boston.
And, if you read my post, you'll know that I did, in fact, cross the finish line with a time that could most likely guarantee me a spot in Boston. It was the perfect end to a pretty grueling day.
I was pumped and proud for the rest of that day and into the week. Trying to run Boston again has been a goal, so it felt great to accomplish it. I continued to float on Marathon Cloud 9 until my husband called me into our family room to watch the news Tuesday night. I stared in disbelief as it was reported that some runners suspected the course was short, per their GPS watch times. Apparently, enough runners came forward with these complaints to spark an internal investigation.
Ugh, I definitely did not have a good feeling about this. I recalled the runner next to me at Mile 25 saying, "My watch says 24.5. Something's off." I had shrugged him off to having paused his watch or messed it up somehow. Then, I thought about the fact that this very marathon had miscalculated the route last year - it was actually too long, by almost a mile. They couldn't screw up the distance again, could they? After all, this was a marathon... the whole point of it was to take runners on a 26.2 mile course. How could someone get that pretty important detail wrong?
Well, they did - by almost a mile - and the 10K course was also short. As can be guessed, runners got upset. Nonrunners got upset. Families of runners understood the outrage too, as they had been there to witness the hours of training that had gone into this run.
And of course, I felt very upset, and quite frankly, let down. I had signed up for the race with the understanding that of course there would be some unknowns - the weather, the presence of injuries, how I'd feel on race day, etc. Those things I couldn't control. But I ran with an unsaid confidence that certain things shouldn't even be a worry or a thought - such as the race distance. I thought that was a non-negotiable, especially after the mistake the previous year.
But, like in life, unexpected things can happen in marathons. Courses can get miscalculated two years in a row, and as a result tick off a lot of runners in the process. Is it uncalled for? Yes. Is it unfair to the runners? Very. It is a personal bummer for me personally? You bet it is.
However, is this a crisis? Now, I'm not talking crisis in its literal sense, because we all know the answer to this when we compare this event to what's happening all over the world. But, should this be a crisis on a personal level? Answering this gets tricky, because in my case, my disappointment over Sunday's race is closely tied to another race that was a true crisis.
You see, I ran Boston in 2013, when there was a true crisis. This fact is both why I want to run Boston again, and why I ironically am not all that angry about the fact that my qualifying race is actually all for not.
Like many other runners, I'm of course bummed because I feel, quite frankly ripped off. I ran a race, expecting there'd be no question of distance, my only job was to run. I did just that, and the race gurus were the ones who screwed up. Now all of the other Boston wannabes and I have to find another race where we can qualify. I'm annoyed that I have to put in long hours over the winter to train, and then give it a shot again in a spring marathon. Again, keeping things in perspective - this is a setback, yes, and an annoying one at that. But, I realize there are much worse predicaments being faced out there in the world.
As I stated above, this race for me (before, and now, after) truly is all about Boston. Before, it was about qualifying. After, it's still about that, but also a lesson in keeping things in perspective. When I ran Boston in 2013, again I found myself in a situation where something unexpected happened during a marathon. Yet in 2013, lives were affected - deeply and profoundly. In 2013, the race stopper was a crisis in every sense of the word. It was uncalled for, horrific, and deeply unfair to runners, families, and mankind in general. That day, lives changed forever.
Yet, in the midst of the tragedy and horror, runners came together and helped each other. People came together, physically and in spirit. As runners and as a people, we learned that when bad things happen, we don't have to let them take us over - we can become stronger because of them. We became, and remain, Boston Strong.
This feeling of Boston Strong is precisely why I wanted my race to be a qualifier on Sunday, yet also why I'm actually okay with it being not. What happened Sunday was a mistake. It was ridiculous and unbelievable that it happened in this day of GPS being on practically every person's wrist. Yet, nobody got hurt. Life will go on, and there will be other marathons.
The important lesson I've learned through Boston, and perhaps this race, is that we must never forget that this life we're living is actually just one long marathon. Things come up along the way that we don't expect. Things that we don't like happen. But, we need to always put those things in perspective and keep on running the race... realizing that the bumps and glitches we face are simply part of the run. And maybe, just maybe, even though we don't like those bumps and glitches, their value lies in the fact that they actually make us stop in our tracks and think about what's truly important - on and off the course - whether that course is 26.2, or 25.5. It doesn't matter.
Our job is to simply... keep on running, knowing that in reality, the distance IS the unknown. Our job is to make the very most of the race.