Monday, April 19, 2010

Marathon Monday Memory - 2008

Brain surgeon. Veterinarian. Artificial intelligence engineer. All things I wanted to be when I grew up.

Never did I imagine being an athlete. I played the occasional sport, did well, but never excelled or even dreamt of excellence.

So now I find myself two years into a far-fetched plan to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

It started in Boston, 2008: My second marathon would be the fabled trek from Hopkington to downtown Boston. I had watched the race as an ignorant spectator in 2004, so I remembered the energy of the event.

But this year was even more electric. The women's olympic marathon trials would be on a criterion course (essentially a loop course), making it great for racers and watchers.

I was so pumped to watch this race. Even though my race would be the next day, I spent several hours going from spot to spot on the trials loop. I watched Magdalena Lewy-Boulet take an early lead and hold it for much of the race. I stopwatched the gap from her to Deena Kastor, and was one of many who told Deena the deficit as the race went on. I saw Deena take the lead with just a few miles to go, watched her victory lap with the American flag, shook her hand.

I also saw women who didn't look that much different than me, but who ran at least 45 minutes faster. Even though they weren't in contention for one of the three Olympic slots, they were almost definitely having one of the most memorable races of their lives.

And I wanted that feeling, that experience. I wanted to know I was one of the 180-odd women in the country fast enough at this retarded distance to say, I made the B-standard and ran in the Olympic Trials.

Oh, I want it. I want it like most people want a million dollars — they won't die without it, but life would be awfully great with it.

And, quite frankly, my lifetime chances of running a 2:47 marathon are probably considerably better than me having a million dollars.

So here we go. Another sixth marathon season behind me, a seventh coming up in the fall.

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