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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nine Seconds

"Time is the longest distance between two places." -- Tennessee Williams

 I'd like you to do me a favor.  

Get a watch with a second hand and count nine seconds.

I'll wait.

(tapping fingers on table, patiently waiting, whistling merrily)

All set?

Now, how long was that?  Not very long, right?

That is what kept me out of the 2012 Boston Marathon this year:  nine seconds.

Because of last year's Boston Marathon online enrollment fiasco, the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) instituted a rolling admission process for this year.  If you had a BQ (Boston Qualifier) 20 minutes or more FASTER than your standard, you could register on Monday, 9/12/11.  Those who were 10 minutes or more FASTER were eligible to do so on Wednesday, 9/14/11 and BQ'ers between 5-10 minutes got to pony up their dough on Friday of that same week.  Provided there was still space available, registration would be open to ALL who had met their qualifying standard from Monday, 9/19/11 through Friday, 9/23/11.  Because I will be (gasp) 40 years young on the day of the race, I had to have a time of 3:50:59 or faster in order to register.  I had run the 2010 Atlantic City Marathon in 3:48:55 last October, so this was the time I used.

Apparently, there was an abundance of fast females aged 40-44.  I received an email yesterday from the BAA that stated the following:   Regrettably, we are unable to accept your application due to field size limitations and the large number of applications we received from qualified runners.  Entries from applicants in your age group were accepted through and including the time 3:48:46.
To quote Agent 86, also known as Maxwell Smart, "missed it by that much".
I've done Boston three times already, once as a qualified runner and twice as a charity runner, so I wasn't really all that upset about it.  At least, I didn't think I was.
Until I pulled the rookie move of updating my status on facebook
Then, I became "bothered" by it.  I felt the need to justify, explain and candy coat the entire experience to my +/- 400 something friends who may or may not even give a s**t.  I clearly stated I wasn't upset about it and didn't want sympathy, "I'm sorry's" or the like.  I was just...telling people what was on my mind.  Those that responded were totally well meaning people with all the best intentions.  Of that I had no doubt.  But soon, it became clear to me:  this didn't feel good.  Sharing the news with the world at large made me go from happy to, well, not so happy.  Besides, when is the last time someone said , "oh you poor thing!" in the midst of a personal "tragedy" and it helped?  I mean, really.  You can't shore up another person's weaknesses with your strength.  You need to see them as already being strong enough.  Once I realized this, I thanked everyone who checked in and promptly deleted this thread so it could never be seen or heard from in cyberspace again.
So, what in the Sam Hill was my freaking issue anyway?
Before I go a little further, some background here:  my husband leaves tomorrow for FL on his annual guys trip.  As happy as I am that he is doing this, because no one works harder or is more deserving of fun in the sun than he, I confess I feel a little sad that he'll be gone for five days.  Couple that with my own impending travel plans to Chicago in 10 days for the marathon on 10/9, it's no wonder that I'm a little "emotional".  It would make sense that being slightly hypersensitive anyway, this might seem much worse than it actually was. 
Nice try, Cyndi, but no, that wasn't quite it.  You had those variables going on before reading the email and posting it on facebook.  You were laughing and joking like a five year old all day.
I decided to listen to a guided meditation hoping I'd get to the heart of what was troubling me.  I listened to one on letting go and still felt unsettled.  I found one on emotional healing (letting the emotions flow freely without judging or resisting).  Then, I had some wine and went to bed.
When I woke this morning, I realized why I was upset.  
Societal expectations and approval.
I "thought" I "should" want to run Boston every year as a qualified runner since I'm pretty committed to the sport and if I didn't have that aspiration, then I wouldn't be considered a "real marathoner".  After all, it's the oldest and "most prestigious" marathon in the world, right?  Finally, since I didn't have a time of 3:48:46 or faster (even though I DID qualify based on the standard), that must mean that I would be perceived as "less than" by anyone and everyone.
When I took the time to be still and let my consciousness relax, I disconnected from the "should haves, could haves and would haves", the "peanut gallery" and the "expectations", as I perceived them.  It came down to this simple question:  what do I want?
And this is the answer:  to enjoy my sport by running however, whenever and wherever I want while remembering that running a fast enough BQ time doesn't define who I am.  My worthiness and value is infinite, constant and doesn't hinge on external accomplishments or meeting the criteria of others, whether they be my peers or the BAA (who has every right, by the way, to run their marathon as they see fit and I have nothing but respect and support for them).
Did I REALLY want to run Boston for me?  Would it have been fun?  I'm sure it would have.  And, truly, if I was that hard over on it, I could definitely get a # through a charity.  There is more than one way to skin a cat, you know.
The truth is:  in all the ways that matter, it just isn't that big of a deal to me to run from Hopkinton to Boylston Street again, as legendary and magical as it can be.  Considering where I came from (smoking cigarettes and being overweight), I'm just happy to be in the mix.  Plus, I had already entered the lottery for the 2012 London Marathon, which is held six days after the Boston Marathon.  I'll find out before I leave for Chicago if I got in to that race.  
When one door closes, another one opens.  And if it's not London, it will be something else.  There are hundreds of marathons all over the place.  If that's really my pleasure, I will have absolutely no problem whatsoever satisfying it.  To paraphrase some wisdom I acquired from Abraham-Hicks, "if the Universe has inspired a desire within you, then it also has the wherewithal to deliver the goods".  In other words, if I want it, I can have it.  
All I have to do is ask and it is given. 
Pretty simple, isn't it?  
Life is supposed to be that way, you know.  We just insist on making it complicated.
"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness." -- Henry David Thoreau



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