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How to handle not getting into the Boston Marathon

Posted 10:44 a.m. Thursday

Not everyone who qualifies for the Boston Marathon will get into the race. Here's a few things to remember to help get over the disappointment. (Deseret Photo)

For 17 years I have tried, and failed, to meet the members of the rock band U2. I have camped out at stadiums and arenas for hours in the hopes of catching a glimpse, getting an autograph, and if the stars align, talking to Bono, Edge, Adam or Larry. The closest I ever got was watching their cars drive into the Thomas and Mack Arena, tinted windows rolled up with nary a wave or a glance.

No one would ever accuse me of being a quitter, so this past weekend I told my husband we were going to try one more time. I jokingly said if I got an autograph, I’d have it tattooed somewhere, never believing I’d have to follow through. Long story short, my kids are asking me today if my Adam Clayton signature will end up on my arm, back or ankle.

Just a few days after our successful U2 meeting, many of my running friends received notice that even though they technically qualified for the Boston Marathon, their qualification time was not good enough to gain entry into the 2018 race. For some, this was not their only time experiencing this disappointment. Because of Boston’s popularity and the change in registration procedures over the last few years, meeting the qualifying standards does not always guarantee a bib number. Runners register by qualifying times, the fastest runners registering first. Once the field is full, no other registrations are accepted, even if they meet the qualifying standards.

That’s a tough pill to swallow.

It would be easy to say, “You qualified. That’s all that matters. It’s just a race.”

But for those who’ve dreamed of running through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and finally Boston, it’s not all that matters.

To my friends who have qualified but for whom that bib number remains just out of grasp, don’t give up. Remember this.

You’ve qualified once. You can do it again. It’s hard, but that’s what makes this quest meaningful. Set your sights on another race and vow to give it another go.

Keep training. Print out your training plan. Pin it to the fridge. Remind yourself on dark, snowy, blustery mornings in January that quitting feels worse than sore hamstrings.

Remember how you feel today and imagine how you’ll feel when you finally make it into Boston. Much of what motivates me stems from past failures. I hate how I feel when I fall short of a goal. I hate it enough to get out of bed and do something about it.

Let yourself feel sad for a moment, then dwell on your success. My friend Shelly always reminds me to put on my “perspectacles” when life feels overwhelming. Not getting into Boston may feel crushing right now, but keep in mind all you’ve achieved. Marathons are an accomplishment in their own right. Being fast enough to even consider shooting for a BQ is extraordinary.

Find joy in the journey. Cliche, yes. But also true. The race itself isn’t particularly beautiful or spectacular. I’ve run marathons in other places that are far more breathtaking and awe inspiring. What makes Boston special is the hard work it takes to get there. It’s the only race where people congratulate you before you run rather than after.

I understand disappointment. I also understand that the harder you work for something, the more meaningful it becomes. Boston’s been around for 120 years. It’s not going anywhere. It will be there for you when you’re ready.

And if you know of any good tattoo artists, let me know.

Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, 24-Hour Fitness instructor and marathoner.

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