From someone who has run Boston, let me let you in on a little secret (assuming you haven’t already run it yourself): Boston ain’t all that and a bag of potato chips. Beardsley’s lips to your ears.*
Now, before I hear the outcry, let me be very clear: It’s a perfectly nice race in a perfectly nice city with a perfectly interesting course and perfectly terrific crowd support as well as being perfectly well-organized and I had a perfectly good time experiencing it. But it’s not, like, PERFECT, you know?
I’ve held a BQ for the past four possible Boston Marathons but only exercised the option once in 2008. I’ve made no secret on this blog of the desire to return but, if you paid attention, it wasn’t because BOSTON IS THE BEST RACE EVER AND I WILL DIE IF I DON’T DO IT AGAIN. No, I’d merely like to ‘correct the record’ and exonerate my poor race time by posting a better one. In short, when someone asks if I’ve run Boston, I say yes but then cringe for the inevitable ‘what was your time?’ follow-up. See? Nothing intrinsic about the race or the city itself, I’m being purely selfish. Altruism, thy name is not Nitmos.
I get why most runners want to run Boston. It’s the Top Dog. It has the rigid qualifying standards. It has the history. Prestige, prestige, prestige. I had Boston fever and I don’t blame you one bit for a burning desire to BQ so you can go too. I’m not trying to convince you otherwise.
My thoughts on the Boston Marathon came into focus a month ago – the weekend before registration, ironically, where I had every intention of registering first thing Monday morning – while down in Detroit for a marathon team relay with some friends and Mrs. Nitmos. We were discussing running and marathons as a group and one of my friends asked me straight up, if I only had one marathon left that I could run, which would it be. The question caught me off guard. I simply never thought about it like that before. I mumbled something positive about every marathon I’ve ever run while trying to come up with an answer. One marathon to pick? I couldn’t answer because I’ve only run 8 at 6 different locations (2x Chicago, 2x Bayshore, Flying Pig/Cincinnati, Disney, Detroit, and Boston). Not much first-hand experience from which to choose. I think I ultimately settled on Chicago just because I love the city and it was the home of my first and third (and most memorable) marathons.
But the name I didn’t say surprised me. It surprised my friend too who followed up with, “Not Boston?”
I was stunned for a moment. And then the clouds parted and a light shone down on me…maybe it was one of those cartoon light bulbs coming on over my head or maybe Beardsley was sending me an illuminating lightning bolt from atop Mt. Runmore. No, not Boston! Huh, go figure, I guess I never defined what that race meant to me before.
Boston is like the popular girl in school. She’s the prom queen, the head cheerleader, and the class president all rolled into one right down to the Marilyn Monroesque beauty mark on the cheek. From a distance, it’s perfection personified. All the guys want to get with her. But maybe, one day, you do get with her. It was nice, terrific, everything you thought. You are laying there satisfied with ruffled hair and a filter less Pall Mall hanging out of your mouth looking down at Prom Queen Boston’s head on your shoulder. You know what? That "beauty mark" looks more like a flat-out mole. And is that a hair sticking out? Does she shampoo with VO5 because that hair smells like floor cleaner sprayed with Strawberry Essence? Well, it was nice…but I gotta go. And on the way out the door, you are thinking about that cute little band geek flutist named New York that shared your love of bridges during a long discussion on the bus the other day.
The point is…Boston is certainly something to strive for but don’t beat yourself up - or the race up - for not being able to register if you couldn’t get in this year. You might be missing out on the race medal and the prestige of running in an exclusive club but you are not missing out on some orgasmic race route and some unrepeatable race experience. At least, I don’t feel that way and I think most people believe my opinion is the only one that matters, right? I’ve had better crowd experiences in Chicago. I’ve had more smiles in Disney. While the turn onto Boylston St. is certainly one of my favorite race memories, the view off the bridge to Canada overlooking Detroit is, surprisingly, equally as memorable. But, admittedly, I’m not very emotional. I don’t spill tears when crossing finish lines. Those are reserved solely for the birth of children and stepping on nails.
So, enough already, with the blog posts (like this one) complaining about Boston’s charity runners and/or justifying their registration process. Blah blah blaggity blah popular girl blah Boston blah blah. I know, it’s easy for me to say, I’ve already had her. But, since I have, I can tell you that Boston is a perfectly good race…but with a hair hanging out of the mole just like many other less hyped races. In fact, the marathon right in your hometown may be just as memorable in the long run (double entendre intended) though you may not get as many high-fives from your friends when completing it.
So, if you could only run one marathon for the rest of your life, which would YOU choose?
Now, I’m off to go ask out New York. She might turn me down once…maybe twice…but I’m pretty sure she won’t say no three times.
*Beardsley never said this (as far as I know). Remember: Snark makes up 80% of this blog.