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To Boston or not to Boston. That is the question.


Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously priced airline tickets, or to take arms against a sea of regrets about not registering…

Wooden platforms near mountain visiting centers are excellent places for life contemplation?

As I bumble my way into the impending month of October, it’s time to start thinking about whether I should bother with Boston registration, which begins on Monday, October 18th at 9:00 AM EST. (That’s 5:00 AM AKST!)

I qualified for Boston in my first and only marathon back in March of this year.

I am itching not only to run Boston, but to run another marathon.

But let’s consider a few circumstances that might make the Boston Marathon a stupid idea.

1. Expenses. Let’s get real. I live on a volunteer stipend. My Boston Marathon experience will be in excess of $1000 spent on travel alone. Throw in the registration fee, food costs, and possible lodging expenses if I can’t coax friends into boarding me, and we’re looking at a big chunk of change just to run 26.2 miles.

No thanks, I'll just travel by Floo powder instead.

2. My “work” (volunteer) commitment. April is reportedly one of the nicest months of the year here in Juneau. Nice weather equates with a very busy work schedule for me, particularly since my field happens to be environmental education. So the option of taking a leisurely week off in April in order to sha-zaam over to New England is… well, not actually an option. I’d have to limit this to a 3-4 day weekend trip, tops.

3. Conditions. Running in Alaska right now is all rainbows and swans and trumpeting angels, but in the meatiest months of Boston training mileage, I will be running in the dark, in the snow, on the ice. It might not be the most safe or enjoyable training situation. I’m not sure what I will make of that. Another consideration will be the time zone difference: I’m running four hours behind Boston, and a weekend trip to run the marathon might make for an anguish-filled race characterized by crushing jet lag. I know, I know, I’m such a princess.

4. Alaska Factor. I’m worried that if I set my sights on having a great Boston experience, I’ll miss out on stuff here. Maybe I don’t want to become the fun sponge worrying about Boston — which I would be, because there is no point in dropping all these dolla billz just to go “have fun and run the Boston marathon” — if I’m spending all that money and energy to race at Boston, I want to do well there and not just BS my way through the race because I qualified. I know myself: if I’m looking ahead training for Boston, that will become my focus, and I might choose to skip out on some of the awesome events and opportunities Alaska offers.

I climbed inside of a glacier the other day. Alaska is awesome.

Maybe instead of being a marathon maniac, I should live it up in Alaska and put my energy into being here.

In fact, I’ve found a race here that I desperately want to do: The Klondike Run. This is a relay from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse in Canada. Every runner I meet here emphasizes that this is THE running experience in Alaska (and I’m tickled to be in demand as a potential relay teammate). It’s  not until next September. I have no idea where in the country or world I will be next September, but perhaps if I’m going to drop a thousand dollars on traveling to a race, this would be the more judicious one to invest in. I have hometown ties to New England, so Boston will always be within striking distance if I qualify again. Alaska, on the other hand, may not be.

So yeah. Boston’s looking like a sorta dumb idea from where I’m standing in that first photo.

On the other hand. I really want to run it. Oooh, I get these jealous, preemptively regretful shivers whenever I think about not registering.

Any thoughts on this situation? What would you do?

What kinds of sacrifices have you made in order to run specific races? How did you decide it was worth it?

16 Comments leave one →
  1. dubay319 permalink
    09/29/2010 11:56

    I think if you can swing it money wise you should go because it will make you feel good and i think you would be fufilling a dream .

  2. 09/29/2010 12:13


  3. 09/29/2010 12:13

    i’m torn between signing up for boston as well. and i live so much closer than you! i had the itch to run it right after i qualified as well and while i totally understand the urge to do it if you can’t swing it in terms of $$ or work then remember that you are talented enough of a runner to requalify.

    that said, if yuo can it’s definitely a great experience. if i could afford it i probably would do it this year too.

  4. 09/29/2010 12:21

    Here is the thing:

    If you were twenty years older I’d say OMG ITS AN AWESOME RACE, DO IT AT LEAST ONCE!


    You’re young and speedy – you’ll qualify again.

    I can tell you Boston is a really fun race to run (really fun!) and that its a great time. As someone who lives in a miserable climate and is poor as fuck due to student loans, its also very expensive. Logistically its not necessarily the easiest race to run and coming from THAT far away might suck. And training through miserable, dark weather is doable…but its not fun. And when you’ve got only so much time up there? I think its worth your while to not have to stress about marathon training during the worst time of the year. (Looks like there are a couple spring marathons in Alaska that’d let you start training later.)

    Because let’s face it: Boston is gonna be there in 2012 too, but it sounds like you won’t be in Alaska then!

  5. 09/29/2010 12:25

    It’s a tough one. On the one hand, I feel like if I ever got fast enough to qualify for Boston I would be there. No matter what. In reality, I’m in no “danger” of qualifying and real life has logistics you need to think about. Maybe enjoying Alaska while you’re there and focusing on some great Alaska races like you mentioned is your best plan? (Running in the dark, on ice, doesn’t appeal to me either – ug.) I run year-round in Minnesota, but the treadmill is sadly my companion unless I can run in daylight.

    I’m assuming your BQ time will be too old to use to run in 2012? If not, I would also think about doing that…

  6. 09/29/2010 12:35

    All races seem like a good idea when the weather in your area is nice. (See: me signing up for fall marathons while the weather is super nice here and then SUFFERING through the heat.) Since you don’t really know how bad it’s going to be and you’re young and fast I say wait. You’ve got plenty of time.

    Also, for that kind of dough you can go somewhere cool. (Not saying Boston isn’t cool, but…I did Peru for 2 weeks on what you’re going to spend on Boston.)

    With that said, if I ever qualify I will be running it no matter what. Of course, I’m old and not fast.

  7. 09/29/2010 12:35

    Boston isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t sound like you’ll have any trouble qualifying again in the future.

    The Klondike thingy? Sounds way cooler and more memorable.

    Even aside from the cost, my take is that you’re living in one of the coolest parts of the world and have opportunities to see and do stuff that the average runner doesn’t. Take advantage of those. Boston will be there for you down the road, when you’re living somewhere far more boring. 🙂

  8. 09/29/2010 13:14

    I’d definitely do Alaska while you’re there. You’re not planning on being there long term right? Depending on when you BQ’d you might be able to use it for 2012, but even if not I have confidence that you’d qualify again later. Anyway I’d enjoy the time in Alaska – it’ll be harder to get back there once you’re back in the CONUS.

  9. 09/29/2010 14:41

    PSSSST….don’t get caught up in the “I qualified, therefore I must” herd.
    From 1980 – 1986 it was 2:50 for men and 3:20 for women….so people felt trapped…that day is long gone, but for some reason the sense of urgency lingers on….The first time that I qualified I felt as though I had to do it…but I lived in CT so it was much easier….
    Save it for later…Boston will be there for a long while…
    Just my $.02,

  10. Lacey permalink
    09/29/2010 16:08

    hmmm… i was persuaded by the logic of not going. i am pretty certain based on your mileage/ high distance preferences that you will run another marathon and re-qualify. this might not be the year but that doesn’t mean you missed your chance! i think you should enjoy alaska.

    actually also qualified for boston in my first + only marathon and i’ve already decided i’m not doing it. for completely different reasons than you. 🙂 i just don’t like marathons, period. i wouldn’t mind it so much if i felt like i could prepare for it without hating running. and i would never want to do one under prepared. and even working freaking fracking hard for my first marathon i STILL felt like i was under prepared just b/c i don’t have YEARS of running consistently higher mileage so it’s just not something i enjoy or am adjusted to enough. so yeah. no boston. maybe someday? it may come around some day. i’m hoping eventually i will be more interested in it… and i get such “twinges” when i watch the boston marathon and have to remind myself it’s more than just that day that goes into it 🙂

  11. 09/29/2010 17:26

    I would skip it. I am going on an every other year rotation – for budget reasons and variety. If my time in Alaska was limited I would do the relay this year – and an Alaskan marathon – and Boston in 1212.

  12. 09/29/2010 18:04

    I have qualified for Boston for the last 3 years and still have not done it. I want to wait until 1) it’s not such a financial burden, and 2) I’m in really good shape again. If you do another marathon you will likely requalify, so I would pick a more convenient one and then just do Boston another year.

  13. Murdoch permalink
    09/29/2010 18:19

    Do it so we can have a ELXC reunion at the finish!

    But really, my current living situation probably makes me too biased to comment but it is an extraordinary event. I’d say do it once to get the experience and then if you want down the road to do it again you can and if not youve got the race under your belt.

  14. 09/30/2010 03:08

    You have a lot of people telling you to stay in Alaska. I’m going to be another one of those voices. This volunteer thing is, if not a once-in-a-lifetime experience, then close to it. You will probably benefit more from building connections, street cred, experience, memories, than flying across the country to run a marathon that is run every year. Train hard, find a fun race closer to home, and defer. It will be worth it.

  15. 09/30/2010 04:33

    OMG, that glacier photo is So. COOL!!!! Unbelievable. As for Boston, you’re a fast girlie and could requalify anytime – the race isn’t going anywhere. Do it when you don’t have so many cons in the list. I had a great time in Boston but really, it was all about the social for me, I wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for all the internet friends I wanted to meet. And congrats on the 10k win the other day. Fabulous!

  16. 09/30/2010 15:10

    oh wow, tough call. even if you miss Boston, i think everyone said it: you’re young, you’re quick, and the marathon will be there in the future. The Klondike Race sounds like a definite though, THAT would be an experience! 🙂 (absolutely beautiful pic, btw.)

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