Musings Guilt Trip

Published on October 28th, 2013 | by karlyn


Guilt Trip

The Boston Marathon is incredibly hard to quality for, and meeting the standard is only the first step. There’s more than a bit of luck involved. The BAA uses a rolling admissions process to allow the fastest runners to register first. That means that if you exceeded the qualifying standards by 20 minutes, you got first dibs. If they still had space available, they opened it up to those who met it by 10 minutes. And then five minutes. And then to anyone who met the standards. Even if you manage to register, it’s not on a first-come, first-serve basis – you are ranked against all of the other registrants in terms of your qualifying time and then admitted in order until the field is full.

In order to qualify for the marathon, I would have to run a previous marathon in under 3 hours and 35 minutes, and even then it probably wouldn’t be enough. I cannot emphasize enough how much training and dedication it takes to achieve that. Your casual runner (i.e. me!) might run 10 minute miles and feel OK about that. It meet these standard, it’s more like 8 minute miles. For 26.2 miles. On my best day, I can’t keep that pace for a single mile. And I’m OK with that – I have literally never trained for speed with running in my life. It just hasn’t been something that has interested me.

All of that is long winded explanation of why I’m feeling more than a bit guilty about getting an invitational entry for the marathon when so many people who trained for so long and so hard were shut out of it. Imagine that person who’s been training for years with the goal of running Boston and this year, they finally got their qualifying time…only to be shut out of the race because there wasn’t enough room. Sure, one could argue that if they did it once, they can do it again next year…and that might be true but I can’t imagine how devastating that must be.

I just don’t feel like I’ve earned it. Yes, I’m going to spend the next six months of my life fundraising for a very worthy cause. And yes, the charity element of this race is a critical component and raises millions of dollars every year for organizations that do important work in the community. But when so many people want to run this race, it’s just really hard not to feel guilty about being “handed” something for spending a few hours putting together a great fundraising plan when people who have been training for years aren’t getting the same opportunity.

That being said, I know myself well enough to know that when I’m afraid of something, I also come up with reasons not to do it. So I’m sure that the guilt I’m feeling is partly a manifestation of my looking for a reason not to. So make no mistake – I’m not giving up my spot. I officially register tomorrow with Dana-Farber, and then the real fun begins.

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About the Author

I'm a non-runner (i.e. a proudly slow runner) training to run the world's most famous marathon. This will be my third marathon, and second Boston Marathon in a row. I will be running as a part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Team and will be raising money for the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Cancer Research. Follow my journey by joining my mailing list, following me on Twitter or on Facebook.

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