by Sarah Bowen Shea, Founder of Another Mother Runner & Author of “Run Like a Mother”
Standing in the lobby of the Marriott Copley Place, waiting for an elevator, I am surrounded by men and women runners a head shorter than my 5’ 11” frame. My forearms are about as big around as their sinewy quads; I’m fairly certain I outweigh each of them by 50 pounds, if not more. It’s two days before the 2012 Boston Marathon, and I want to proclaim, “I qualified, too!!” Instead, I slump my broad, former-rower shoulders and wish the marble floor would open up beneath me. I feel like a poser. Even though I make my living as a runner, as co-founder of Another Mother Runner, I don’t feel like I belong in this fast crowd.
Both times I’ve qualified for Boston—in the 2010 Portland Marathon and the 2014 Victoria Marathon—I barely made the cutoff time, further making me feel unsteady in my standing as a Boston qualifier. Because my birthday is in early March, I timed my BQ marathons so I qualify in the next age category up, running the marathon nearly 18 months before I hit the milestone age. (E.g. In October 2014, I was 48, but I turned 50 in time to run Boston next month, and BQ times are based on the age the runner will be on the day of the Boston Marathon, not the qualifying race. Tricky, but well within the rules.)
For me, every hill repeat, every tempo mile, every double-digit run, every squat, every plank, is proof I deserve to toe the line at the most prestigious running event in the world. It’s my validation I’m a strong, determined runner. I might not have the most fit cardiovascular system, but I have heart.
And every morning, when my alarm goes off earlier than I’d like or the rain pelts the pavement, I summon the drive and determination to prove to myself I belong with that group of runners waiting for the elevator.