Smutty Fitness: Hayley’s Road To Boston
Yesterday marked exactly five weeks until April 16th, a day that might just be a regular Monday for most North Americans but for 20,000 people it is the date of the 116th Boston Marathon; it not only represents the beginning of a 26.2 mile journey to the finish line in the center of Boston, Massachusetts, but it represents the hours, days, weeks, months and years leading up to it.
Getting to the start line of the Boston Marathon is no easy feat, and last year’s race filled up so quickly that in 2013 qualifiers will have to improve their times by five minutes to even have a chance to make it to Boston. That may not seem like much, but for those runners who have been dreaming of this race their entire lives, continually falling short of their required qualifying time, it means they are going to have to train that much harder and dedicate themselves that much more to finally be considered a Boston Marathoner.
Completing a marathon is an amazing accomplishment, no matter how long it takes to cross the finish line. What the Boston Marathon does is take the fastest runners from each age group and allow them the opportunity to race all together on one day. When I ran my very first marathon, 3 years ago, I told myself to simply go out on race day and enjoy the experience of running a marathon, as there are not many things that we get to experience for the first time in our lives. I did not have any expectations, especially not to run fast enough to achieve a Boston qualifying time, which at that time was 3 hours and 40 minutes. I always knew that I wanted to do the Boston Marathon but I never, in a million years, thought I would run fast enough to achieve it. So, at 5am I began to run my first marathon and 2 hours later I realized that I was on pace to qualify for Boston; I could hardly believe it. An hour later I was still on pace and 34 minutes after that I crossed the finish line with a time of 3 hours and 34 minutes. I had just run my first marathon and qualified for Boston.
In my mind, that was enough. I did not think that I needed to actually run the Boston Marathon; achieving a qualifying time was good enough for me but that year on the day that all the Boston Marathoners were about to start their race I was envious and decided I wanted to be there with them. So, I ran another marathon, improving my time even more but again I let that time expire and missed another Boston Marathon. What was I afraid of? Was it fear of committing to what the Boston Marathon represented? Was it the fear of not being able to do my best? Or was it not wanting this journey of getting to the Boston Marathon start line, a dream I have had since I started running 10 years prior, to be over? I did one more Marathon in 2011 and when I crossed the finish line 10 minutes faster than my first race, coming in top 5 in my age: I knew it was time.
I began seriously training in January after the holidays; I figured what a great way to lose all the weight I gained on our time off. But, just before Christmas, I had a very bad fall snowboarding and experienced a bad concussion that forced me to do nothing for almost a month. It nearly drove me crazy and when I was finally able to start running again I had to start from square one. I honestly had trouble running 5 kms and doubted my ability to run 42. My training mileage was supposed to start ramping up and I could not even run for 30 minutes. But I knew this adversity was going to make me stronger and this was my journey, a journey that is different for every runner striving for his or her best.
I have had to sacrifice a lot in the last 10 weeks of my life and in these upcoming five I will have to sacrifice even more. I am unable to snowboard as much as I would like as my weekends are dedicated to my long runs and after all the running I have to do each week I am too tired to do anything else active. I do not get to see my friends and my family as much as I would like, as I have to pick and choose when to go out. I must be in bed early every night as over 12 hours of training every week, plus a full time job, makes for one tired girl. And financially I also need to be careful as going to Boston for a week (the race itself is over $200) is not cheap. But, like I have always said, if you want something bad you need to sacrifice, and this stands true in anything in life.
10 years ago I was a girl who could not even run around the block and now here I am about to do what most marathoners strive for. Over the next five weeks I am going to share with you my journey to get to the Boston Marathon start line in the best possible shape I can be in. I want to know that whatever happens on the race course was the best that I could have done. I am going to share with you my ups, my downs, my fears, my mistakes, my challenges and my accomplishments. I hope at the end of this five weeks, perhaps some of you might step out of your comfort zones and strive for something you never thought possible but always dreamed of achieving.
Attached - Benji and Joel Madden at the gym the other day.