Monday, December 20, 2010
I'm running the Boston Marathon!
Registration for the Boston Marathon opened up on Monday, October 18, at 9:00 AM. I checked out the website, and saw that all I needed to do was complete an online registration. How hard could that be?
I remember reading that last year, registration maxed out about 2 and 1/2 months after the registration opened. In prior years the registration lasted longer, 3 months, 4 months, even right up until the race in mid April.
But I really, really wanted to run this race that I had trained so hard for. So, rather than waiting a few months, or even a few weeks, to register, I was ready at 9:00 AM that Monday morning. Ready meaning I had two computers on, with two different internet browsers going. As a baby boomer growing up in a heavily populated suburb of New York City in the 1960's and 1970's, I practically came out of the womb knowing I had to compete hard for scarce resources.
It took until 11:30 AM to get onto the site and complete the registration. I thought I had it tough, trying to get registered for 2 and 1/2 hours, until I read the Boston Athletic Association website that night. For the first time in 115 years, the Boston Marathon sold out in eight hours. Anyone who tried to register after 5 PM that Monday was out of luck, as was anyone whose qualifying marathon was scheduled for after October 18th.
But as difficult as registration was for me this year, consider what a hard time Kathrine Switzer had trying to get into the Boston Marathon in 1967. She was the first woman to officially run the all male Boston Marathon. She registered (although not online!) as K. Switzer. She began the race, in a baggy sweatsuit, but sharp eyed Jock Semple, the race director, didn't want a woman in his race, so when he spotted Kathrine running early in the race, he physically attacked Kathrine. Kathrine's All American football player boyfriend separated Jock from Kathrine, so to speak, and when Jock remained on the ground, Kathrine and her boyfriend ran away from him. Kathrine spent the rest of the race thinking about how to make something of this incident (which was heavily photographed). She finished her first marathon, then ran 35 more marathons. And then? Kathrine has been spending the the rest of her life inspiring more than 1 million women in 27 countries, through the creation of the Avon Running program, to run and achieve their dreams.
When I met Kathrine Switzer at The Running Zone, I told her what a huge inspiration she has been to me, not only in running but in working for women's equality. I brought my teenage daughter Liana to meet her too. I cherish Kathrine's book, Marathon Woman, which she inscribed for me: "Cindy and Liana! To one who paves the way and the other who has no limits. Go for it! Kathrine Switzer, 11/18/09."
When I run those 26.2 miles through Boston on April 18, 2011, I will think of Kathrine Switzer, who paved the way for me, and so many other women, all over the world.