Tuesday, October 13, 2015

45 Seconds

"The last mile went on FOREVER. All I could think about was this is your Boston... this is your Boston qualifying time!

I FINALLY turned that last corner and saw the finish line. I closed my eyes and ran as fast as I could... this is Boston...this is Boston..."

Those were my words from my blog post on April 26th about the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon.
My high school coach always told us to run through every finish line. Don't ever let up until you are across the line. You never know what might happen. I've tried to heed this advice in every race.
The first time this really came into play in my adult life was at a 5K in 2012. I won the Women's Master's division. I didn't really expect it that day but it was a small race and I had really spent the whole race trying not to let this 11 year old girl beat me. I finished 4th overall woman and that little girl finished right behind me. The overall awards are based on gun time but we were also chipped. Imagine my surprise when I went to look up the official results and I found that that little girl did not finish right behind me time wise. A 44-year old woman finished a second behind me.
How awkward would that have been if she had run a faster chip time and I had won the award because I had finished in front of her! Glad I ran through THAT finish line.
Fast forward to the Derby Marathon. I knew I had a Boston qualifying time going into that final straightaway. The question was "how far under?" I had wanted 5 minutes but knew that was gone. Now it was a matter of how big of a cushion under my BQ I could run.
For those that don't know, here are the logistics of getting into the Boston Marathon...
It used to be that anyone who ran their qualifying time could register for the race. Run one second under your qualifying time and you're in. These people were called "squeakers." In 2010 the field for the 2011 race filled in 8 hours with multitudes of people spending hours on their computers refreshing their screens in vain, trying to get to the registration site. The BAA servers crashed that morning due to the volume of people trying to register for the race. In 2011 a new process was introduced for future races. All the qualifying times were lowered by 5 minutes. Registration would be a two week process.
Run 20 minutes under your BQ and you get to register on Monday.
Run 10 minutes under your BQ and you get to register on Wednesday.
Run 5 minutes under your BQ and you get to register on Friday.
Saturday evening Week One of registration closes.
During Week Two, provided there are spots left, anyone that ran a BQ can register from Monday to Wednesday. After registration closes on Wednesday all the runner's qualifying times are ranked fastest to slowest by how far under your BQ a person ran and spots are given to the fastest remaining qualifiers.
For the 2015 Boston Marathon, you had to have run 1:02 under BQ to make the cut.
For 2014, it was 1:38.
Everybody got in in 2013.
For 2012 it was 1:14.
So here I was, sitting on a 3:13 cushion. That should me more than enough, right? I really wanted 5:00 because that would have pretty much guaranteed an entry but 3:13 seemed pretty safe...
Then there was all the speculation. There were numerous forum posts on Runner's World and other running sites about how high the cut off time was going to be this year. People had elaborate calculations posted. There were websites with tons of number crunching of times from the top 25 feeder marathons. There has been a 15% increase in Boston registrations year to year...
Then... after Week One closes Runner's World publishes THIS ARTICLE that says there are only about 5000 spots left. In comparison, there were 8000 left after Week One last year and 10,000 runners tried to get into those 8000 spots. So... 15% increase in registrants, 3000 less spots... makes me want to drink all weekend...
Registration closed on September 23rd. After that it was one week of torture and more speculation. The projected cut off times got higher and higher. Was I fast enough?
FINALLY, on September 30th, the cut off time was posted. 2:28. You had to run two minutes and 28 seconds under your Boston qualifying standard to actually get a spot in the 2016 race. Phew!! I made it by 45 seconds.
This is what was posted on the Boston Marathon website...
This week Runner's World published an article (HERE) about the runners that qualified but didn't make the cut. 16% of those who ran a qualifying time did not get into the 2016 race. That is more than one in six. They interviewed a woman who missed by one second on her 9th try to get into the race. They interviewed another guy who missed by 5 seconds. He already had his hotel reservations.
45 seconds. In a short race, that's an eternity. In a marathon, it's not. For a runner that runs a 6 minute mile, that's 200 meters or half the distance around a track. For a 10 minute mile runner that's just longer than the length of a football field. That was my margin.
I'm glad I ran through my finish line.

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