On Monday, when I first heard that Boston Marathoners had been offered deferred entries to the 2013 running of the marathon, due to the hot temperatures occurring on Patriot’s Day, I was angry. Of course it didn’t help that I’d read the inaccurate account of nearly 4,000 runners taking the BAA up on this option. I believe the real number was re-estimated to be just over 400.
My unpublished rant when something like this: “I cannot believe it! I would have raced in this year’s Boston Marathon! But over 3000 decided it was just too hot. It sounds like they will be allowed in next year’s race. I guess that’s what the cream of the crop deserves: easy registration and easy on the body race conditions. So not only will they beat qualified but not-fast-enough folks like me out in this year’s race but next year’s race too.”
You could say, I was less than neutral. Indeed, I am embarrassed to say, I was a bit OUT OF CONTROL and IRRATIONAL. I went to a yoga class to bask in the heat (98?F)…and found a little humility. Obviously, I needed some.
During my practice, while I slipped and slider around in large puddles of my own sweat falling to my yoga mat, I thought about the couple of times that Mother Nature had turned up the heat on race days where I had been the one toeing the line. First there was Grandma’s Marathon (2006). Never before had I seen the Black Flag equipped with skull and crossbones waving at the start. Let’s not forget the disappointment of the Chicago Marathon (2007). Certainly these were not the most pleasant of races for me. The heat robbed me of my plans to BQ for sure. But that *is* the nature of marathoning, now isn’t it? We pray that the “stars will line up just so” and, when they don’t, we deal with it.
I could only hope that a race as well respected as Boston would support its participants’ safety as best as possible and that those participating would toe the line with a healthy respect for the conditions of the day.
All the Boston Marathon stuff was nearly forgotten until this morning when I met up with a woman at the local coffee shop. Her BAA clothing sparked my interest, as it always does, and I struck up a conversation with her asking how the race was. I expected her to say that it wasn’t all that bad but that was not how she responded.
Her account confirmed that, even with a Wave 1 start, the conditions were such that any dreams of a pleasant race melted away into no more than a puddle of sweat while she was still at the start. However, she noted that the race support was just as stellar as it always is in Boston. The BAA and event organizers were well prepared for the heat and provided plenty of water and cold sponges. The typical wall of spectators lining the way from Hopkinton to Boston were also out in force, providing fresh oranges, cups of ice water, and the typical words of encouragement they are known for. Unfortunately, and not surprising given the heat, all of the aid stations from start to finish were busied with all of the marathoners suffering the effects of the increased temps.
This woman’s account of the race once again had me thinking back to how I felt during and after the two marathons where I’d experienced similar conditions. It was definitely NOT pleasant. It was physically and mentally defeating. Yet, I don’t regret deciding lining up on race day. I think I would have been more likely to regret choosing not to line up. But that decision is not for everyone. So while I was initially angry that the BAA was encouraging those who thought it best to opt out on this year’s race, I commend them for having a pre-defined deferral policy that gives runners an option to decide what is best for them not just this year but on any given year.
Although I regret entertaining the hostile and irrational thoughts, I do know that I would have toed the line this year had I been in the running – no matter if the stars aligned or not. It may not have been as fun as last year’s race but I would have been there.
I only hope that, if I am able [correction: when I am able] to hit the new BAA instituted BQ standards, I am able to gain entry into the race. It would surely be a bummer to jump through the hoops, which are now lite with fire, only to be told that once again my well-earned achievement is just not good enough to run their race.