Thursday, September 15, 2011

More than A Feeling

So I heard it's time to register for Boston.

Every now and then, someone asks me if I'm planning on registering, or they ask me why I haven't run it yet.

I've qualified for the thing every year since 2006, but not once have I seriously considered running it.

Am I crazy if I go my whole life without running Boston?  Because I think there is a very real chance that I won't.  I don't see what could change my current mindset to make me one day think that the trip is worth it.

Boston is a fantastic city.  I've been there twice with my Dad.  So while it seems fun to make it a destination race where I could explore the city, it seems like a really, really bad weekend to be on "vacation" in Boston.

The city that weekend in April is saturated with runners and running excitement.  I don't know what this says about me and my sense of belonging in the running "community," but that sounds like a really, really sucky vacation.

There is seriously such a thing as too much running-community-energy.  I like certain things about expos, but my stomach turns when I see hundreds of other runners with their nerdy gear and their exuberant conversations with the people at the Gu booth.

Running for me always has been, and always will be,  very strongly associated with my alone time.  It is an isolated sport (if you want it to be).  Aside from the occasional run with the Gentleman and run with other bloggers, running is as close as I get to meditating and to solitude.

Seeing massive packs of runners -- whether it is at Expos, at races, or what I imagine the entire city of Boston to be like that weekend in April -- really warps the sport to the point where it becomes an entirely different sport in my mind.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.

So for me, there is running...the sport where I can burrow in my head, and do whatever my legs want, think about heavy stuff or about nothing at all.   Then there is Running....the sport where I focus hard and become part of a herd, and share compliments or encouragement or tips about Gu.

This blog is a nice combination of the two.  It allows me to be a part of the running community, without having to enter a large and intimating crowd of people who suffocate the sport for me.  And still share tips, encouragement, compliments, etc.

In my own little world...keeping a distance from the crowds

To sum this up, Boston celebrates the side of Running that I kind of dread.  Maybe I don't like sharing my sport that intensely.  Maybe I'm too cheap to spend $1k on something I can do in my city for $100.

Either way, I'm skipping Boston for the foreseeable future.  Maybe, like motherhood, I'll end up doing it just out of fear of missing out.

And just in case you didn't get the title of this post:

Who is signing up?  Who thinks I'm a little brat for belittling Boston when some people devote their life to qualifying?


  1. Heh! I think you are totally entitled to your opinion. One thing about Boston, though, is that you quickly learn that you are no no longer in the top 10% of your race...almost everyone is fast- except many of the charity runners. That lends to a different feel. It's kind of interesting to board your plan and have 3 or 4 runners get on, wearing their jackets, and share their finish times- all faster than yours!

    It could be seen as a real energy rush to be packed in to that many people in a race, and creates some unique challenges.. But you could also get that in NYC or Chicago.

    I will say that it is a VERY well organized race, and the actual fee is not too high. So if I were local I'd do it in a heartbeat. There are plenty of PR courses in your area though. ;)

  2. I love you, RR. You are seriously one of my favorite running bloggers ever. Don't ever change.

    I hope you succumb to motherhood though. Just sayin'.

  3. I don't think it's bratty not to want to do it. I think there's a bit of an east coast bias going there too. There are great races out here too.

    I entered the NYC Marathon lottery this year and didn't get it. I wasn't bummed. NY trips aren't cheap. I'm still doing a fall marathon, but it's in LB and I don't have to add travel stress to an already kinda tough weekend.

  4. 1. Being an New Englander, I kinda assumed it was more of an East Coast thing to put Boston on a pedestal. As a group, we are traditionally very snobby and elitist. Don't get sucked in! Stay away - far, far away!
    2. I'm kinda like you - big races and expos and crazy runners with their compression socks in public and earnest debates over gu vs HammerGel make me supremely overwhelmed and agitated. I think Boston would be more torture than fun.
    3. You stick to that "child free" instinct with all your heart RoseRunner!!

  5. This is the introversion in us. You mind thinks exactly like mine. Have you ever read 'Party of one: The Loners' Manifesto'? I highly suggest it... I think you would like it :)

  6. Well, I'm torn on this one. I would love just to BQ, because that's an achievement for me. But I have no real desire to run such a huge race. I run on my own, so I pick small races where I can still do that.

  7. I of course no nothing about the different races, but I do know that you should never feel bad about having your own opinion about something. You should always go with your gut feeling, even if it may be different than others. Maybe one year you will feel the urge to go, but until then, I say just do what makes you feel good.

  8. Honestly, this cracks me up. Not in a disrespectful way at all. I totally get what you are saying. I am entered in a half that isn't even nearly as big a deal as Boston, but it is a "populated" race and it is out of town. While I am excited about running, I have been dragging my feet on the logistics. Kind of turned off by the whole hoopla and hassle. Yes, I did a big "populated" deal with Hood to Coast, but that was because I was craving a TEAM experience in conjunction with the running.

    There are so many ways to approach running and Running and life. You need to do what works for you... what makes your heart sing and feeds your soul.

    Have a great weekend!

  9. I'd like to get a BQ someday, but I don't have a desire to race Boston, either. I'm not even sold on marathons yet, I'd rather run 5Ks and halfs.

    That said, I do enjoy reading the Boston race reports.

  10. Roserunner you are awesome. Posts like these are why I like reading whatever you write - you always write something interesting. You don't seem like you would enjoy doing Boston for the reasons you list above.

    I agree with a lot of your post - in the end Boston is just one marathon out of thousands offered around the world.

    There is no way I will ever qualify for the race, and I'm okay with that. I hope that I'm able to run another marathon again in the future, and my only goal with anything is to maximize my potential - if that means I get a time to BQ, great. If not, that is okay. With tax season I'm not sure I could honestly train for Boston Marathon anyways.

    I like crowds, and I think I would enjoy doing Boston Marathon. Maybe because it's the oldest marathon in the US, and for all the history there. I think I would enjoy the experience a lot. Maybe that's why I signed up for Chicago Marathon this year (but can't run it due to injury) because it is a gigantic marathon.

  11. obviously i will never be a part of boston... but I would totally go for the FREE STUFF! I love expos and trade shows and consumer shows and all that jazz because of all the free stuff. Maybe it has something to do with growing up and going to the "free building" at the fair... getting all that candy that people just had sitting out on the tables.... didn't get much better than that!

  12. I don't think you are belittling it. It's just not your thing. I suppose if I qualified 5 years straight I probably would think it was no big thing, too. But, I'm not super fast. And I grew up in Massachusetts, so, I plan on busting my ass at some point in the future to get that qualifying time (and hopefully get in to the race now that you can qualify but still not be able to go).

  13. RR you are just too cool for school. I love your blog cause you are snarky. I totally respect you becuase you are an amazingly talented runner. I went to Boston and I loved it. Don't knock it till you try it. I also feel that there can be a happy medium. I run by myself for the same reasons you do. I also loathe most expos. I hate the crowds and want to just pick up my bib number and leave. But the whole experice of Boston was great. It's a well organized race. Plus I did lots of other things in the city that didn't involve compression socks or conversations about GU.

  14. I've grown up in Boston, lived in New England my whole life, so running Boston is actually something of a dream for me. I envy your ability to qualify several years in a row when I know that I will probably have to raise money for charity if I want to be able to register. There is nothing more fun than being a spectator on Marathon Monday (yup, it's a holiday or "Patriots Day" in Massachusetts so everyone drinks and parties in the streets) and each year when I watch the runners go by, I'm really inspired to work harder as a runner and one day be able to fly through the streets of my city only to be cheered on by thousands of people. I don't think it's all nerdy folks with Gu and fuel belts.. it's elite athletes who bring a lot of people onto their feet. Ya, it's pricey and it might seem kitchy, but it's pretty damn awesome. I think you should do it.

    AND while the city has a special place in my heart, so does the band- Brad Delp was my neighbor growing up, most down to earth man and an incredible musician, may he rest in peace!

  15. dude. I think you should go. Yes it's overhyped but it's a great excuse to do it, get it over with, and have a get away with pannini.

  16. I'm a new reader and I had to comment on this post. It's not often that I "meet" people who BQ that choose NOT to run it. Here on the East Coast, Boston is like the mecca of races. If you can't BQ, you're not a "real" runner. Or at least that's the vibe I've gotten since I moved here from NorCal. Why oh why did I leave?!!
    Anyway, I'm not fast enough to qualify, but even if I was I'm not sure I would run it either.
    As an aside, my husband and I don't want kids either. I've gotten plenty of what? and why not? so it's not just you!


we have a strict no-word-verification policy. Comment away!