My Feelings on Running Boston without Running a BQ

I have been very vocal about both my goal to BQ and my goal to run all six Marathon Majors before I’m 30. When I discovered that I wouldn’t be running the Tokyo marathon in Feb I worried that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goal, especially with my 3 month hospital placement as part of my dietetics course next year affecting both my time off and my finances.

So when Adidas gave me a bib for this year’s Boston marathon race, I jumped at it. However I have mixed feelings about running Boston without having earned the illustrious BQ time – for me that’s a sub 3.35, and I know there have been some rather negative responses for my decision to do so.

But it’s Boston, how could I say no.

I have dreamed of racing Boston for years, have read every race recap, followed online each year and watched as some of my friends, and some of my favourite bloggers have turned Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.

Since hearing the horrendous news about the 2013 marathon bombings, I knew that one day I would run it. Running for those that couldn’t finish the marathon that day, those who didn’t get to go home that day, and to celebrate the family of runners around the world that grieved for that tragic event.

I know I haven’t earned my qualifying spot (and some people feel I don’t deserve to be running because for this) and I will never claim to have got this bib from anything other than a sponsor. I did wonder whether I’ll feel weird having not technically earned my place on the start line, however, after speaking to my coach yesterday, I am even more confident that I have a BQ in me, and that it will happen. So even though I’m running Boston this year without a qualifying time, I will be back to re-run it when I do have a qualifying time and I’m sure it will be just as magical. I know there are people who wouldn’t have taken up the place without the time, and I probably wouldn’t have either if I hadn’t had the Tokyo disappointment, but I couldn’t turn down this opportunity to achieve my Marathon Majors goal. I likened it to someone running with a charity bib or covering it for a media outlet – which is technically what I’m doing (even if it’s only for a blog). I feel that although I haven’t earned my BQ, I have worked so hard on my blog and earned my bib that way instead.

It’s the 50th anniversary race of Kathy Switzer becoming the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon with an official race bib! It’s going to be an awesome race to be part of, and with all the women’s rights amazingness going on right now, Boston is going to be even more kick ass celebrating this milestone moment for female marathon runners.

Running the Boston Marathon without a Boston qualifying time

Timings are perfect. The race this year falls over the Easter weekend, which means that I won’t have to take any time off from uni. The following two years I have hospital placements from February- April and I don’t know that I’d be able to take a long weekend to run the Boston marathon and run the Tokyo marathon whilst studying and working. Additionally, although I enjoy early morning training, 5am training runs every day on placement would probably be the death of me, and my social life.

My coach who lives in Connecticut, is going to be there. We’ve skyped, chatted on the phone, texted a lot but I’ll get to meet Mary in real life in Boston. Plus about 35 other athletes and coaches from the McKirdy Trained will be there – I’ve never been part of a proper running club, although I really want to be – and so this is as close as it will get right now. I am so excited to be able to join them for a shake out run and a carb loading lunch.

Running the Boston Marathon without a Boston qualifying time

Although neither my Mum or Tom can come (both of them have been there at 5/6 of my marathons), amazing Zoe has said she’ll try to come up for a weekend in Boston and cheer me on. After running New York with her in November, I might make her jump in for a couple of the hills.

Lastly, I can’t not address it, but with all the immigration controversy going on in the US, I am of course a little more hesitant to travel to America. I love the United States, having lived in both Virginia and New York at times in my life, and have travelled extensively there. The current climate really saddens, scares and angers me, especially the new government’s attitude towards ‘immigrants’, climate change, women’s rights, LGBT rights and torture, as well as our government’s reaction (or lack of reaction) to it all. However, while I know some people are boycotting American companies and all travel to the US, I don’t believe that harming individual Americans (majority non-Trump voting as it turned out) and US companies with no ties to the president will help to change these policies. (However I love what companies like Starbucks and AirB&B are doing!).

Ultimately, I am so excited to be running Boston this year, and although my goal won’t be to BQ there this year, I know I’ll be back in Hopkinton with a qualifying time someday. Thank you so much to every single person that has commented or messaged about this amazing opportunity- I am so grateful to all of you and to Adidas! Xx

31 Comments

  1. 3rd February 2017 / 10:17 am

    Yeah! Go Charlie! Enjoy and embrace this!

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:22 pm

      Thank you, I will!

  2. Lowri Brown
    3rd February 2017 / 10:34 am

    I think it’s AMAZING! So happy for you. I know how much this means to you 🙂 xxxxx

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:21 pm

      Yay and so great that you might come too 🙂

  3. 3rd February 2017 / 11:28 am

    I’m really pleased for you! I also would feel hesitant about not having got there through the BQ time, however you would be absolutely crazy to turn this opportunity down. Maybe you’ll run that time at London anyway 🙂

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:20 pm

      I know, it was such a tough decision but I’m so excited to be heading out to Boston!

  4. 3rd February 2017 / 12:36 pm

    Life’s too short to worry about things like this…. take the chance.. run the race… smile as you finish…. and put the doubters out of their misery by running a BQ at Boston!

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:19 pm

      Thanks, good way to put it!

  5. 3rd February 2017 / 12:53 pm

    I am sorry people have given you a hard time about running in Boston. As someone who grew up in Framingham, I would love to run it some day, and the only way I’d ever manage it would be for charity or via a sponsor (the time for me to qualify is 3:45 and well, that’s never going to happen!) I think you should take this opportunity, because it is an amazing one, and run your heart out. And like someone else said, you might even run a BQ time in London as well.

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:19 pm

      Ha i think London will be a fun run now but I will be busting my butt for a BQ in Tokyo next year!!

  6. Lauren
    3rd February 2017 / 1:19 pm

    Good for you! I live in Boston and the marathon is so special and I will be sure to cheer you on 🙂
    Don’t let anyone you this isn’t deserved – love your take on it that your hard work on your blog got you the bib. You will rock the race!

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:18 pm

      Thank you! Yes would love some support in the crowds!!

  7. Grace
    3rd February 2017 / 2:37 pm

    I think it’s amazing that you’re doing it!so what if it’s through a sponsor!? You have worked so hard and definitely deserve it!
    I’m happy for you , best of luck with it! I don’t know how you train so much around uni haha I definitely struggle with that side of it.

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:18 pm

      It has been tough, but it’s worth it, and early mornings means relaxed evenings!

  8. 3rd February 2017 / 2:45 pm

    its an amazing opportunity and you’ve earned it in other ways. this doesn’t preclude you from eventually getting a BQ. have a great time!!!

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:17 pm

      Thanks Nicole, still working hard for my BQ!

  9. Liz Nelson
    3rd February 2017 / 5:37 pm

    Hey – I LOVE that you are running it! I ran my first one on an invitation; it did feel weird and I did feel a little out of place, but since then I have run it three times since with significant qualifying times and would be running again this year if it were not for having an injury. I made the decision to withdraw just this week. 🙁 I just can’t train! YOU WILL LOVE IT! There is nothing like Boston. I am following your journey. Good luck.

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:17 pm

      Oh no I’m so sorry that you’re injured, that sucks. I hope you recover quickly and can be up and running for next year’s race!

  10. 3rd February 2017 / 6:36 pm

    It’s definitely a great opportunity! It’s not like you are hiding the fact that you are running Boston as a media sponsor, so I don’t know why anyone would begrudge you this experience. And it doesn’t preclude you from running it again once you do earn the BQ time, so you should definitely enjoy every step of the way. 🙂

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:23 pm

      Thanks Mandi, a BQ is still the goal even after running Boston!

  11. W. Purves
    3rd February 2017 / 9:02 pm

    Forget BQ matter and go for it. Train well. Good Luck. G.

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks Grandfather, want to come with me 😉 xx

  12. 4th February 2017 / 4:52 pm

    You totally deserve it! Don’t listen to anyone.
    And good luck!

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  13. Lisa Townsend
    5th February 2017 / 5:11 pm

    That’s an amazing opportunity and you should 1000% go for it no matter whether you ran a BQ or not. People putting you down saying you shouldn’t be running are just jealous. Run and enjoy it for all the slow runners like me that will probably never get anywhere near a BQ time (and bloody enjoy every single second!) 🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♀️

    • charlotte
      5th February 2017 / 9:09 pm

      Thank you – the idea of a BQ seems so fast and far away still but chopping down those minutes!!

  14. 5th February 2017 / 9:45 pm

    Don’t worry about not having a BQ! You can do it! I’m excited to follow along and read all about your adventure. I’ll be living vicariously! Enjoy it.

  15. 7th February 2017 / 8:09 am

    You have been so open and honest about it! I would have jumped at the same opportunity. From following your blog, I know how hard you have worked on both your running AND your blogging. Go out there and kill it! And as you say you can keep working on that BQ and one day come back with that. Good luck.

  16. 7th February 2017 / 10:33 pm

    You are such a positive, informative and honest ambassador in the women’s running community. I so appreciate your candid manner and the way you never sugar coat your tough moments or shy away from being real about your experiences.

    I think it’s ideal timing that you are able to run on K. Switzer’s anniversary! How cool.

    Thank you for all you give to your readers. This post is thoughtful and real like everything else you share.

    Have a wonderful race in Boston. You deserve it!

    • charlotte
      8th February 2017 / 8:01 pm

      Thank you so much, this comment brought a massive smile to my face on a day I was struggling, so thank you!!

  17. Runner1929
    12th February 2017 / 4:39 pm

    I find it interesting that so many comments include the phrase, “you deserve it”. I don’t think anyone deserves a place at Boston, but because sponsors and charities offer spots, many non qualified with a BQ have the opportunity to run the race. While that could be an entirely different subject matter, you will run Boston and be able to say you did. When and if you earn a BQ, you may feel differently since so many runners that have qualified do not get a spot due to the time cutoff. Just my two cents, and yes, I did qualify and ran it several years ago.