Running is a big tent sport. You can be fast, slow, tall, short, young old, skinny or even fat and be a runner because that is what you call yourself. There is no official club, by laws, rules or standards.
- At what speed do you magically transform from fast walker to runner?
Frankly, if you think it’s running, then call it running. There is probably someone faster and likely someone slower. Don’t even bother with the term “jogging”. You are a runner if you want to be one.
- What special equipment do you need?
Your two feet. Shoes? Completely optional. Special clothing? Recommended if you are running more than a few miles, but totally your call. Expensive watches, fuel belts, GPS monitoring or GU needed? If you are an obnoxious type A like me, knock yourself out, but don’t sweat it.
- What about distance?
Anything from a few feet to an ultra marathon counts. You want to go run around the block and call it a run? Knock yourself out, you’re a runner.
If they sound good to you, sign on up. If it’s your first and you finish, CONGRATS here’s you first PR! Don’t want to post on Facebook? Don’t. Although I guarantee you will have a friend that either doesn’t run or is slower and will be impressed. If they aren’t, they’re just jealous because you are AWESOME. For most people, a race is competing against yourself. Sure there are other people there and unless you are from Kenya a few will probably cross the finish line before you. Maybe even by a few hours but you didn’t really think you were going to beat them, right?
Runners are automatically awesome. Don’t you want to join the club now? Oh wait, no official club… but you’re still awesome.
Name another sport in which your performance doesn’t matter, just showing up and doing your best (or not quite your best, or maybe your worst, hey you were injured/tired/hung over!) gets you a medal at the finish line. Yep, NONE.
For some runners, the ultimate goal/wish/bucklist item is completing a marathon. Those runners are placed into the crazy section of the runners (non)club. Seriously, you have to be crazy to sign up, train for, attempt and (fingers crossed you don’t lose any toenails) finish a marathon. I should know, I’m a certified card carrying member of said crazy section.
And if you participate in aforementioned group, Boston or “BQ” means one thing. The Boston Marathon is the marathon of all marathons. It’s the standard by which all other marathons wish they could be and all marathoners strive for. That’s because you can’t get to Boston without a “BQ”. A Boston Qualifier is a marathon time fast enough to be granted a bib to compete in the Boston marathon. Even with a BQ, you still may not get in because everyone wants to run Boston. If you tell me you don’t want a BQ, you are a liar. What you don’t want is to fail at achieving a BQ, but I bet you still want that BQ next to your race time.
So what are the BQ’s looking like these days? Completely and utterly insane. I look at this chart and cringe. If I don’t start getting faster (significantly faster), I’m set to hit a BQ when I’m 65. Maybe 70 if I can’t maintain my current marathon pace. Does that mean I’m working towards a BQ? No way man! I don’t have the time to devote to the speed work it’s gonna take to shave 90 MINUTES off my marathon time. But do I want a BQ? YOU BETCHA!
Why? Because I’ve run a marathon. I sweat, bled, cried and cheered through 26.2 miles. I learned that a marathon doesn’t start until mile 20 and that donut holes at mile 24 are like manna from heaven. Never in my life will donuts taste so wonderful or be so magical again. I discovered that you can train your body, fuel like a boss and that will mean NOTHING if you don’t have the mental fortitude to crawl across that finish line if you have to. Seriously, everything hurt so bad I was entertaining the idea to start walking on my hands. I can’t even do a handstand.
Even though my hips, knees and feet ached, I was not going to be stopped. Did I have a target time in mind? Sure. Did I hit it? Nope, it wasn’t realistic. But that didn’t matter because I was going to finish. When I hit mile 26 with the finish line in sight, something in me broke. I didn’t have it in me to sprint across, but the last two tenths of a mile were pure bliss. The euphoria I experienced was life changing. My body carried me a ridiculous distance and I was in complete awe. I did it.
Watching the news yesterday was devastating. From now on, “Boston” will have a second meaning for runners. When we talk about Boston, it will always hold a heaviness. But Boston will always be the standard we hold ourselves to. The secret goal we all want.
We run for Boston.