There have been plenty of things in life that I didn't know I wanted until I didn't have them anymore. Like that sweet pair of jeans I once left at the laundromat in college. Poof. Gone. Boy, did I miss those.
And then there are things you didn't know you wanted until you came so close that there is no choice but to want it and need it and fight for it and GIMME NOW IT'S MINE. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon became that thing for me last fall.
I've been running marathons for ten years. Running the Boston Marathon was it. It was the ultimate. But with a qualifying time of 3 hours and 40 minutes (now 3 hours and 35 minutes), it was Never Gonna Happen. A pipe dream, mostly. Little kids in tee ball dream of playing in the World Series the way little Krista dreamed of running Boston "someday." Because it ain't gonna happen. Keep dreaming, kid.
I spent the majority of the last ten years fighting to run a marathon in less than four hours. It was shockingly hard to do, and after several failed attempts, I knew I'd never run Boston. Finishing a marathon in less than four hours became the new Boston Marathon for me. Then in 2010 I did it, and it was the most amazing moment. In 2012 I did it again, just barely, like the first time. Also amazing, but goddamn, it was hard.
It was also enough.
I was proud. Still am. I worked hard for those goals, and never felt so satisfied with my running. I was achieving what I wanted.
When the attack on the Boston Marathon happened in 2013, I was struck with renewed inspiration. Not to qualify for the race, really, but to run with a purpose. I was so mad. Within three days I signed up for a marathon, unplanned. I worked hard that summer, ever faithful to my training plan. What happened in Boston weighed heavily on my mind. Sure, maybe I'd never cross that finish line myself, but I'd fight back and run hard to honor those who now never would because of some assholes with a bad plan.
I crossed the finish line last November in an actually shocking 3 hours and 40 minutes. I knew I had a good run in me that day, but that finish, to this day, still makes me shake my head in happy disbelief.
Suddenly I found myself five minutes from my qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. Five minutes. It took me a few weeks to hem and haw over whether to go for it, but by the New Year I was signed up for the 2014 Grandma's Marathon. I had to try. I couldn't sit that close to the Big Faraway Dream of 2005 Krista and not try.
And here we are. Two days from the 2014 Grandma's Marathon.
In true Krista fashion, I am nervous as shit. I don't do well with pressure (albeit self-imposed) and nerves.
There is this piece of my psyche that typically prevents me from going after Big Faraway Dreams because I'm terrified of messing up. It's hard when the pending success of the dream rests solely on your own ability. I have to run and I have to run fast and I have to willingly be probably uncomfortable for a few hours. The only way I can do this is if I run well enough to do it.
THAT IS SCARY.
I've spent the last four-and-a-half months busting my ass. Every training run. Nearly every day. Nearly 150 days. Logging nearly 800 miles. And now all I get is one day and 26 miles to try.
That is impossibly overwhelming to my fragile mind.
Of course, most of these things aren't true. If I don't succeed Saturday, I can try again. I can try again as many times as I want. But all of the work I've done is for Saturday. For this race. If it doesn't go my way, I've got to do all the work again. I can't just go home and try again tomorrow. I've got to recover. I've got to do work. I've got to give it a few months. I've got to miss entry into the 2015 Boston Marathon.
I've got to put all my hopes into one day again.
Even if I qualify, I then have to hope it's by enough time to actually get in when registration opens (fastest runners get in first until it fills). I don't know what makes me more nervous -- the idea of missing my goal or the idea of running a qualifying time, but then not getting to run the race.
Ohhhhhh, the mental woes are endless. Clearly.
But the point is I want this really bad. So bad. When it comes to running, this is the hardest I've worked. The hardest I've dreamed. The hardest I've been so terribly nervous.
I think about the moment -- the moment I qualify for Boston, whether it's this weekend or next year -- and I feel a wee bit emotional, like I do. My mind races back to the longest, coldest winter. All the runs in sub-zero temperatures. The lonely miles. The early miles, the late miles, the hot miles, the rainy miles, the hard miles. I did this all by my damn self, and now it's up to me to actually follow through.
See, it's the following through part that rattles my nerves. I sort of wanna be like, you know, no thanks. I'll be over here not following through, but instead, really quite comfortable in my bed, bye.
No one's going to stop loving me if this doesn't happen, you guys. I mean, I suppose someone could, but if it's you, shut up, you're an asshole. But if this doesn't happen, I'm going to need a minute or 46 to cry a little, I think. Just a little to let the letdown out before I can see the upside of a well-fought battle.
So now I wait. I rest my legs, I eat all the carbs, I ride with my parents all the way to Duluth, Minnesota tomorrow, and then I cross my fingers and hope for the best.
Let's just hope that best is a 3-hour and 33-minute marathon.