I love running. It has given me a lot in the past six years or so since I’ve started deliberately doing it. Before then the only time you would see me run was — because I was being chased by a bear, going shopping on Black Friday or because the ice cream man decided to take a left turn into my neighborhood.
Running has been a life saver, a blessing and very much a savior — ever since I laced up my inadequate running shoes and decided to go for a run. I owe so much to who I am now — both on and off the road — because of what running has taught me.
I could make a list — dealing with my mother’s breast cancer fight, overcoming addiction, helping me process the passing of dear family members, gaining confidence in myself and my abilities and over course aiding me in my weight-loss and overall health.
The list is nearly endless.
I really started running to get healthy and to lose weight — I never would have imagined that it would help me through many tough situations. When I learned of my Mom’s breast cancer diagnosis — I ran. When my aunt passed away — I ran. My Grandma’s passing — I ran.
I wasn’t running away from the situation. I was running to clear my mind. I was running to process what was ahead of me. I was running to feel the emotions of my heart.
Before running similar news would have probably been met with destructive behavior. Behavior that was meant to numb. Addictions are great at numbing and blinding emotions — but, that’s a post for another day.
I’ve experienced a lot during my running journey the past six years — I’ve ran numerous 5Ks, a few 10Ks, 100+ half marathons, four relay races, a few 25K + races, seven marathons and a 50K. That’s a lot of running. Roughly 1700+ miles of just racing — that’s not including the training miles.
Like I said, that’s a lot of running. And, I don’t regret a minute — or mile — of it.
I’ve learned over the years — that running isn’t really just about the miles. It isn’t even about the pace or time. It’s about breaking personal walls of doubt. It’s about the friendships and community you create. It’s all about the journey.
My friendships, overcome obstacles and accomplishments have meant so much more than any PR or time. Sure, I shoot for them — but, if that’s my sole focus — I am missing everything else running has to offer. I can’t allow myself to gain that kind of tunnel vision, because for me that would defeat the whole purpose of why I run.
But, just because my speed and pace isn’t my main focus doesn’t mean I don’t value it — in myself or in others. I would be foolish to not. In fact, I get just as much a thrill watching the winners as those who are pushing up the rear. That is one reason why I love the Boston Marathon so much.
It takes mad dedication to qualify — sure to some elites those qualifications might be rather “easy.” But, to the average runner — it’s a standard that takes extraordinary dedication, hard work, faith in the process and patience. Lots of patience.
I have watched many friends triumph, struggle and even fail at qualifying for Boston. For someone who, more than likely, will never qualify for Boston — it’s an interesting drama to watch unfold. Both as a fellow runner and human being.
I often feel like an insider liking from the outside — if that makes sense. I understand the struggle of setting running goals and pursuing them — just not on the level that it takes to qualify for Boston. Especially when it comes to the physical requirements to qualify. And, I admire EVERYONE that undertakes that goal and strives for it.
Ever since I started running — I’ve had others ask me if my goal is to qualify for Boston. Honestly, I haven’t given it much thought, because I came to the realization rather early in my running journey that I — more than likely — would never qualify for Boston. Unless, I was 85 years old, blind or missing a limb.
And, I’m fine with that.
Well, until this past Boston Marathon.
I’ve known about charity runners at Boston ever since I started running. While, I think it’s admirable to be a charity runner (I’ve been one before locally) — I’ve felt about pursuing to be one at Boston is a no no. Why? Well, because it’s Boston. The Boston Marathon isn’t for runners like me — I’m too slow and not a “real” runner like the thousands who actually qualified.
And, I know I am not the only one who believes this. Many in the running community feel like charity runners cheapen a race. So, if you didn’t qualify for Boston — all you have to do is just write a check to a charity and you’re in.
There’s also the belief that a charity runner will take the spot of qualified runner. Which, I learned, at least in relation to the Boston Marathon, they don’t. There are the same amount of qualifiers and charity runners each year — and that won’t change.
Anyways, as I am watching the marathon during my lunch break, I am having this internal debate with myself about Boston. Do I try to get in as a charity runner? Why would I do that? What would others think? What kind of charity would I run for? I wouldn’t want to run for a charity that I don’t believe in or feel passionate about?! Am I even worthy to run Boston?
All these questions — these pros and cons — swirled through my head.
And, then it just kind of dawned on me with the thought, “Josh, there are two roads to Boston — and you’ve got to qualify for either road with a lot of the same principles of dedication, hard work, perseverance and ingenuity”
There are two roads to Boston.
This thought erased any doubt I had about whether or not I should run Boston — let alone publicly announce it. I was going to run Boston. I am going to run Boston.
So, I started looking at the Boston Marathon charities to see what would fit with me. I hate saying some charities looked — meh (because all charities do good) — except there were some that just didn’t excite me.
And, then I found it.
The Martin Richard Foundation.
It’s a foundation started by the parents of Martin Richard, one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. You might remember Martin’s message of “No More Hurting People, Peace” — that went viral after the tragedy. The foundation works to spread that message by investing in education, athletics and community.
I knew in my heart — right then — that this was the foundation I wanted to be a part of and raise money towards my goal of running the Boston Marathon.
How did I know?
Well, after the bombings — not only was I inspired by young Martin’s message — but, I was compelled to action. The Salt Lake City Marathon was happening that weekend and was the first major marathon after Boston — so I decided to have a special shirt made for the race.
That shirt …
The message of young Martin is so simple, yet profound. And, I clung onto that during the aftermath of the bombing and throughout my race. I won’t get into details about the day (here’s my race recap), but it was an emotional day. The weight of Boston was on our minds while the weather was rather nasty — rainy and cold.
I knew I had to do this. I had to run for the Martin Richard Foundation.
So, I eagerly shot off an email to the foundation to ask about applications for the 2017 marathon. And, surprisingly, I got a response back within a day. They simply told me they weren’t accepting application for Boston until around September or October — not until they were done filling the teams for the Chicago and New York Marathons.
That was a minor setback to my eagerness — but, I didn’t let that ruin the enthusiasm. I ended up buying myself a shirt and decal for my computer from the foundation — to keep me track of my new goal.
To run the Boston Marathon.
Now, I haven’t planned much more ahead of that. I would love to do this in 2017, but 2018 or 2019 are options — I guess? Not sure. Earlier the better, right? I even thought how cool it would be to have Boston be my 180th race?
Either way — Boston is on my mind. I’m going to run it. I am taking one of the two roads that take a runner there and I couldn’t be more excited. Because, Boston is a celebration of running — and I am a runner.
And, I too, I belong in Boston.