I decided to run my first full marathon in 2014. In the back of my head, I was hoping I would qualify for the Boston Marathon but knew it probably wouldn’t happen on my first go.
And it didn’t.
I ran the Manitoba Marathon and finished with a time of 3:13:01 – just 3 minutes shy of getting my Boston qualifier (BQ). From that day on, my goal was to qualify and run the prestigious Boston Marathon.
That fall, I placed 3rd overall in a 30km race, and a month later, I ran a half marathon and got a personal best time of 1:26:40. But I was still hungry to qualify for the Boston Marathon so I signed up for another full marathon, the Manitoba Marathon, hoping this would be my chance.
Race day was June 21, 2015. It was hot and humid – already 17 °C by the time the race started at 7 a.m. At the 13-mile mark I was feeling good, maintaining my race pace while making sure to stay hydrated. But by mile 18, I was starting to slow down and by mile 23 I knew I was nowhere close to my goal pace. As I crossed the finish line, my family cheered me on but I was nearly in tears knowing that my dream wouldn’t happen that morning. My finishing time was 3:22:51. It's a good time for most people, but for me, at 13 minutes slower than expected, it was a disaster.
I could have quit then, but instead I used that race as fuel to add to the fire inside me. My wife, who is my biggest supporter and fan, encouraged me to run the Twin Cities Marathon in St. Paul, Minneapolis where I could qualify for the Boston Marathon. It was time to restart my training and come up with a new plan that would get me to my goal. So I consulted my doctor, who was also an accomplished endurance athlete, and we came up with a new plan. I quickly fell in love with track workouts and fartleks (a training method that blends continuous training with interval training). As I became more and more comfortable with the workouts and different paces, I began feeling more confident as race day approached.
As I crossed the finish line, my family cheered me on but I was nearly in tears knowing that my dream wouldn’t happen that morning.
Race weekend arrived and I could feel my excitement growing. There was a real buzz in St. Paul that I fed off of. The air was cool; the temperature was a perfect 7 °C with a light breeze. I was still nervous, but I woke up that Sunday morning feeling excited and confident.
I was placed in Corral 1, and as the pack of runners spread out a few miles into the race, I finally got into my rhythm. The miles passed, and I felt strong and confident – I was on pace to finish with a BQ. I gave my wife a thumbs up as I passed her around mile 17, but I started getting goose bumps as I passed the dreaded 20-21-mile mark. This is where I usually hit a wall, but this time around I was still on pace. As I approached the 26-mile mark it was a straight line to the finish. I picked up my pace and in the last 200 metres I gave it all I had.
As I crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch: 3:09:01! When I realized what I had just done, tears started to roll down my face. I was beyond excited to have accomplished my goal, and just as thrilled to see that my wife and biggest fan was right there waiting to celebrate with me. I couldn’t have been more proud to have qualified for the Boston Marathon.
This entire experience changed me. Not only did it provide me with the proper training to successfully run the race, but it gave me the confidence to know I could achieve my goals – as long as I was willing to put in the hard work. I'm currently training for a marathon in June and I'm motivated to run faster, beat my time, and redeem myself after my race last June.
I could have quit then, but I used that race as fuel to add to the fire inside me.
In order to succeed, I gave myself a goal at the beginning of the year to put in even more work, as I always want to improve and be a better runner. I was determined to do more workouts and increase my mileage. I was ready for the early morning wake up calls, for the speed work, tempo runs, the recovery runs, long runs and the general grind of intense marathon training. It’s hard work, for sure, but with this extra work, I'm hoping to run a new personal best time between 3:05-3:08 to secure my spot in the Boston Marathon.