First, the goal. While this was my fourth marathon, it was my first time training for speed. For many years one of the big questions that circulated around running for me was "how far?" This question teased, and at times nagged, me through training for my first marathon. In recent years though, that question changed to, "how fast?"
I still don't know the answer.
So yeah, I was surprised to learn that I had qualified. I say learn because I didn't know if I had done it until I checked the text message update, which I had to read about four times before I understood what it meant. Boston, yes, but more than that, I feel like I am good enough—that when I toe that start line in 16 months I belong there.
The second outcome was even more unexpected. A new door (or chapter, or book, or insert your own cliche language here) has opened. I don't care how cheesy it sounds, that's exactly what I'm experiencing now—large french doors, wide open and waiting for me. In the past, the marathon has been the celebration of months of training, the concrete end to a significant journey. The After (yes, it is a proper noun in this case) arrives and life can resume some semblance of normalcy. Not so this time. EVERYTHING has changed.
Once my body recovered from race day, I noticed I was faster. I have a new comfortable pace when running that's 30 to 45 second faster per mile than it was. I have new pace benchmarks for shorter (200 m to 800 m) and longer (5k to 10k) distances. I feel stronger and more capable. And I'm convinced that I have an even faster marathon in me. I would have never fathomed that the end of something as big as a marathon, which culminated in reaching a goal I've wanted so badly it feels like I've actually wanted it my whole life, would only be the beginning of something else. Bring it, 2018!