I belong to this group on Facebook called "Facebook Runners." Yesterday a gentleman posted his excitement over the fact that next month he will be running his very first marathon... The Boston Marathon. My eyebrows raised as I saw that he had 71 comments because I KNEW there would be a battle. And so I looked.
The third comment was from a man who wrote "Good luck at Boston. You have already been lucky enough to get in without having to qualify. Enough said on that subject." YEAH RIGHT! Enough said? Are you kidding me? Instantly (I could tell by the time the comments were posted), everybody and their brother weighed in on Frank's (the commentator) comment. Some were in support, some were appalled that he would write that. I learned quickly from Marvin, the guy who's status it was, that he was indeed running for charity after losing 150 pounds and raising $5000.00. Back and forth the battle went. I could see the point of both sides... those that got shut out of the marathon who did qualify and those that were in complete support of Marvin. I wanted to comment, but quite truthfully, I wasn't sure how. Until now. Here is how I feel about those that run Boston for charity.
First of all, I learned that charity spots do not replace or reduce the number from the general field. If there were no charity spots, Boston would not increase their general field size. I learned this from one of the people who commented. My thought is this, if that is the case, why would it bother anyone if someone ran the Boston Marathon for charity? And maybe I stick my neck out on the line by saying this too... even if it does replace general field numbers, who cares? Now I realize that it's easy for me to say this as I have not qualified for Boston and have never applied and been shut out. My friend Jen has and I know it was very hard for her. Two years earlier and she would have been in. It seems very unfair and I sure as hell wouldn't have taken it well. I was offered a charity position through Livestrong by my friend Molly for the 2011 Boston Marathon and declined. Not because I thought running Boston for charity was wrong, but because I wanted to run it as a qualifier. That was a matter of what I wanted for myself.
People who get mad at those who run Boston for charity are assholes. I'm sorry if this puts any reader in that category, but come on. We have become a nation with such a sense of entitlement that we can't even see the good in those that have worked their ass off to raise money for a cause. No, we are angry because after all, we trained and busted our asses and someone took our spot. Well I loved my brother's comment on Marvin's status when he wrote "Marvin, enjoy every minute of Boston. More people have qualified for Boston than have lost 150 pounds!" AMEN! I can't even really shake the winter 5 lbs I put on. Forget 150! People have become so angry, so selfish that it kills them to step out of themselves when they feel slighted. I know some people who are the most dedicated, hard working, ass busting, committed runners that will never be fast enough to qualify for Boston. And I happen to know of someone who qualified for Boston in their very first marathon run. I commend the natural athlete in that person. To have raw talent like that is a gift and I would hope that he would see it that way. I've got news for some of the people who posted negatively on Marvin's status... yes, you may have run Boston 20 times, qualifying over and over again. And you may believe that you are something special for this reason. But lets bring perspective into this... your marathon time may be a really bad time for someone better than you. Your time may have a better runner very upset over their performance if that's what they got. But it is YOUR best time and in it's natural right, should be applauded and celebrated. Same goes for those slower than you.
I don't know how this spring is going to shake out. If I qualify for Boston and get shut out, without a doubt, I will be disappointed. But I can guarantee that I will not be bitter or angry toward those who do get to run. Maybe seeing this post was supposed to get me to think about this and how I would react, not just in this situation, but it my running life in general. I am currently nursing some kind of calf/shin/lower leg pain that has not allowed me to run since last Sunday when I ran with Will. I have continued "training" the best I can on my elliptical and thankfully can get my bike out this week as well. I know full well the reason I am hurt and it could have been prevented. And I spent a good part of week angry at myself for screwing up flawless and careful training with the decision to run 13 miles the day after a 22 mile run. After all, I did this last fall and never had a problem. The difference is that last fall the paces I ran these back to back long runs were slower and I was always careful the day after a very long run not to push the pace. I didn't know Will would run as well he did (I should say I didn't expect him to run as well as he did) and really did believe the pace would not be a problem. My anger about my decision to run his pace spilled over (of course!) to blaming John for my current problem, which he swore he knew was coming :) I told him that I WOULD have backed off if I thought he wouldn't be upset with me for not staying with Will during his first big race. Truth is, I needed somewhere to direct my anger about what has taken place because looking at myself in an honest light is really, REALLY hard. John took it in stride as he figured he'd be to blame somehow. It isn't hard to figure out why I'm hurt. But would I change what I did? Had I not run with Will, I would have missed seeing my son in a light I've never seen before. I would have missed seeing how he worked through some major difficult moments and conquered them. Those moments on that course provided a rare peak into the workings of a very private boy's mind. I would not go back and do anything different. Well ok, maybe I would have run my 22 miler on Friday like I was going to, but that is besides the point. This is part of being a runner and I have been fortunate enough to run without issues and reach a major goal of mine last year. We will see how the spring goes. I was only able to run a mile yesterday and it produced more pain than I would have liked, but there are many weeks left and I get better each day.
And finally, as John told me yesterday, there are many more marathons to run and to pick from.
So Marvin, enjoy Boston! By all rights, you "deserve" to be there by your incredible dedication and will power proven by your ability to lose that amount of weight and raise money for a good cause (at least I hope it's a good cause!). And if I am back on here in September angrily ranting about being shut out of Boston because of stupid charity runners, kindly remind me of what an asshole I am being.