Cheryl trained primarily with Jen and Erin and ran the race with way more physical discomfort than I could or would have. This was evident by the total collapse of her legs post race and the extremely trying injury she sustained from it. I cannot think of anything more devastating in the quest for Boston than having made the cutoff time running nearly all the race with the friends you trained with, only to be left behind while they got to go.
Everyone who has been part of the Boston quest (that includes family members of those who aim to run Boston too) knows that the need for the BAA to tighten its standards began in 2011. In 2010, Boston Marathon registration filled to max capacity in record time, leaving many qualifiers out of contention to run it. So they implemented a rolling registration process for times, allowing entry to the fastest qualifiers first. The plan was to manage registration this way for the 2012 race, but then to both tighten the standards (across the board decrease in qualifying times by 5 minutes... which meant no glory in turning 40 for me) and continue a rolling registration process. Jen qualified by seconds in the Air Force Marathon in 2011, but unfortunately, the cut-off time was over a minute and she did not get in.
She decided to take the winter off for both mind and body recovery after a hard year of training and racing. In early 2012, she jumped back into running. She met and began running with Cheryl and then a bit later, met Erin, who at the time, was training for her first half Ironman. The three of them decided to run the Columbus marathon in hopes of qualifying for Boston. The plan was that they would start the race together, but ultimately run their own races should one or two fall behind.
They had an amazing race and I was so privileged to witness the glorious finish. They all finished with over a minute to spare. And given that the 2013 Boston Marathon took nearly two months to fill thanks to lower qualifying times, without a doubt, these three would be going to Boston in 2014.
That horrific day last April changed the fate of many. Not only did the senseless attack take the lives of three innocent spectators, but it also left many injured, including some who lost limbs. The even bigger picture is how it also affected the dreams of many who worked so hard to run a qualifying race with the new tighter standards. The effects of evil always go far beyond the actual act. For so many, the opportunity to participate in this race is a lifelong goal. Imagine finally achieving what it is needed to get there, only to find out there is no room at the inn. Perhaps the opportunity to race like that again will never come for some of those who just squeaked by. And thus, the dream is lost.
It is not surprising that the field was overflowing this year. After the attacks, the running community felt the need to send a message to terrorists. Marathons filled with record numbers this year. Instead of being scared into no longer racing, it was as if some fierce beast was unleashed and runners plowed forward. And Boston, well that became the most sought after race in history. Anyone who is able wants to run that race in 2014, hence the inability for some qualifiers to participate. It's one of those times that just sucks, but is fair and understood. That is life.
Enter God :) God listens to everything we say and do and everything we ask for. It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of real life whether our request is "important" or not. God doesn't put our requests in order of importance. He can manage the big and the small quite nicely. He just wants undeniable faith that he can do anything and that includes giving us what we are asking when we pray. He wants us to KNOW he has the power and ability to change outcomes. When we approach prayer with a "Well, let's just see if this works..." kind of attitude, well that is not being faithful, but rather looking at prayer like a good luck charm of some sort or putting God to the test. It is rolling the magic 8 ball. It is in no way approaching prayer with the knowledge and faith that God hears us and is LISTENING to us. I also know that God knows what is best for us. He knows where we should be and what we should be doing, hence the reason that sometimes the answer is no. If we are asking for something that in someway interrupts His will for us, or is not good for us, the answer will be no. But we have to have the maturity and insight and FAITH to realize that, even if we haven't quite figured out WHY we weren't meant to have or do what we have requested. I learned this throughout my training for Burning River. I prayed a lot about that race. Put in perspective, is running a race important in life? Nope. I get that. But my prayers were always this..."If this does not in some way disrupt your will for me, please make it happen." And boy did He ever. Because I asked and it was important to me. Because it was important to me, it was important to Him. It doesn't matter how "unimportant" it really was when compared to the requests of those facing terrible hardships such as unemployment, dying children, hunger, addictions, etc.. Again, God has got them too. God also knew how much the training and racing would build my faith and bring me closer to Him. It is so obvious why I was successful.
I know God was working overtime with all those praying they got into Boston. Along with my friends, who were no doubt fervently praying, I too, prayed for the outcome they wanted. I schmoozed a bit with "Ok, Lord, you were there. You know what it took to train and race together. You witnessed the joy they shared at the finish line and you saw Jen's big smile as she took out the three Boston Marathon Sweaty Bands to give her friends when they finished. She carried them the whole way and they made it! You saw Cheryl's legs collapse at the finish. You knew she gave every bit of physical strength and then some to reach her goal. If them all running Boston together does not disrupt your will for them, PLEASE let them ALL make the cutoff time. If they do not make it, I trust that it is not best for them to run it and please help them understand that." Looking back at the stories of people who chose to not run Boston or didn't qualify (aHEM!) for the 2013 race, it seems as though God knew they should not be there. When we step back, the bigger picture is always so much clearer.
So here is the outcome... For females ages 40-44, the qualifying time is 3:45:00. For entry into the 2014 Boston Marathon, this age group of women needed to run a 3:43:22 or faster. Keep in mind that Jen and Erin finished the race greater than 10 seconds ahead of Cheryl (I don't know their exact times, I just know it was around there...).
3:43:22. In case you were wondering, Jesus is very fond of runners.
Congratulations to all those from my running group who GET to run Boston next year. What an honor! I have no doubt it will be the experience of a lifetime.
|Jen, Cheryl and Erin after finishing their qualifying race|