An Open Letter to the Person Who Protested My Boston Qualifier
I wrote this letter several weeks ago, as a way of cleansing my soul from the pain and betrayal that I was feeling. Even though, at this point, we are weeks away from that phone call, it doesn’t make it any less real or heartbreaking. It took a bit of prodding and confidence building, but I’ve shared my thoughts and feelings regarding my disqualification from the California International Marathon (and subsequent loss of my Boston qualifier) on the Running Rogue podcast with my coach, Chris. My journey as a runner, while long, and obviously not without its twists and turns, doesn’t end here. I’ve said it before: There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to RISE.
And the best way to RISE? With an aggressive goal and big PR plans for the Eugene Marathon in April. So, if you’re looking for a good read, feel free to follow along. I’ll be keeping this blog updated with some of my thoughts during training, the successes, and of course, the less-than-perfect moments.
Things look a little different around the blog recently. A little more grey. It could be the weather in Austin, but truly, things are looking a little less blue and yellow.
Let me explain. As I’m writing this, it’s been about a week and a half since I got the devastating news that my time at CIM was no longer a BQ, but instead, a DQ. Next to a time that I was so proud of, now read the letters DNF. I stared at my computer screen in disbelief. My hand shook as I listened to my coach talk to me on speakerphone. I look Paul in the eyes as my own welled with tears. My heart sank as I lifted my head to the sky and demanded through sob-filled breaths, how someone could be so cruel.
I wish I had more words to put to paper. In some ways, I hope that writing this will provide a sort of cathartic release. I’m still in disbelief at the week as it has transpired. This has been a week that has shown me who my friends are and where my support system lies. This has been a week full of challenges, forced smiles, and overwhelming skepticism that the world—and the people in it!—are, in fact, good.
A pacer aided me that day. A pacer, which by the rules of CIM, disqualified me from the race for “unofficial assistance.” Regardless of who was on the course, registered or unregistered, it violated the rules and led to my disqualification. I’ve long since said that the marathon takes a village—and it does. Day in and day out, we train, not on our own, but with our group —our teammates—for the common goal of marathon success. We make deep, lasting connections during long runs, stretching over miles of road. We learn about each others’ greatest fears, darkest secrets, and unspoken desires. The path to a great marathon time isn’t burnt into the pavement one solitary step at a time, but rather, the culmination of thousands of footfalls in unison. I didn’t train alone. I didn’t race alone.
But, did I break the rules? I didn’t cut the course. I didn’t give my bib to another runner to run for me. I didn’t even have someone carry anything for me. I ran beside my best training partners for all 26.2 miles of the race. I ran beside Lauren and Andrea. I ran with Becky. Tim. Liz. Faceless runners who I didn’t even know all paced me for portions of the 26.2 miles that we call the marathon. I sourced energy from each and every one of them. I used the energy from the crowd. The cheers of people who didn’t even know me encouraged me and kept me going for those long, lonely stretches. I used the immeasurable power of all 200+ members of the Rogue community that were running on the same course with me on that day. Would you call that unofficial assistance?
My legs ran every inch of that course. My bleeding toes crossed that finish line and it was my weak and tired knees that collapsed to the ground as soon as I stopped. My story is the same as thousands of other runners in this sport. But here, my story diverts.
I’d like to think that all people are inherently good. While this specific act, at its core, was mean-spirited and deplorable, it doesn’t change the true outcome of the marathon for me. CIM showed me that I’m stronger than I think, that the Boston qualifier boundaries are those that I have set on myself, and ultimately, this is simply another challenge. I qualified once; I will do it again. It wasn’t a fluke or a happy accident. I worked my tail off for months to see that number on the race clock. I’d like to think that this was the universe’s way of saying that 3:28 might not have been enough buffer to see the 2020 Boston start line. So, for that, I would like to thank the person who challenged me to run another, faster marathon. Without you, I might not have squeaked in with my CIM qualifier. Thank you.