Trying To Qualify For The Boston Marathon Changed My Life

I'm really struggling to explain just how much I've changed over the past 11 months. When I decided to try to run a 3 hour and 35 minute marathon, shaving over 25 minutes off of my marathon time, I really didn't think I could do it. I knew in the back of my mind that it would be funny to watch me try, so I grabbed my GoPro and told you all that despite the fact that I didn't think I could do it, I was going to try anyways.

My blog, vlog, and pocast have taught me how cathartic and liberating it is to share what I'm going through when life or a goal feels especially intimidating or tough. Opening up reminds me that I'm not alone. And going into BQ or Bust, I felt frustrated that no one seemed to share the same experience I did when it came to running stronger. It didn't seem like any of the other incredibly inspiring running creators saw it as an impossible goal. It was just a hard but doable one. So I wanted to share everything I went through, without curating the experience, and vlogging felt like the only way to do it. 

Because I was on camera, I couldn't sit and decide what parts I was going to share. It was a constant stream of in the moment talks to the camera. You came with me to see the breakthroughs and the millions of set backs. Or the day I learned that running faster and stronger hurts like hell.

We all talk about how life gets in the way of our training and goal chasing, but with the vlog, you got a first hand look at what I experience with my grief and how it affects my day to day life. Life is hard. And sometimes it's a real struggle to find the balance between taking time for ourselves and pushing through. It's a balance I struggle to find, but I feel like I'm getting better at trusting how I feel and allowing myself not try to change it. 

But the most surprising thing I learned was how quickly the six months flew by. It was easy to want to pull back or tell myself I would push extra hard tomorrow instead of really focusing on giving everything I had that day. In the beginning, BQ or Bust felt like a waiting game. I was just suffering through the motions until I got to race day. I hadn't yet learned that I was in control.

Then Dr. Bob asked me to try removing "have to run" from my vocabulary and replacing it with "get to run". So I did. And then he asked me to make the conscious decision not to suffer or panic when I saw a workout I didn't think I could do. But instead, to just try and see what happens. So I did, and everything changed. 

The final few weeks flew by and before I knew it, I was crossing the starting line of the Chicago Marathon and fighting my final battle with doubt and self imposed limits.

Immediately after the race, I was on cloud 9. Running a 3 hour 41 minute marathon was a mental and physical win. I proved to myself that I wasn't a quitter and that when sh*t hits the fan, I can trust my mental will, strength, and resilience. But I still didn't BQ. And it's hard to admit it, but I was dreading the training to try to do it again during the 2017 London Marathon.

People always say don't run a marathon until you've forgotten how painful your last one was. I hadn't. I crossed the finish line of Chicago, drank a Goose Island Beer, felt high on life, and then announced I was going to run London. And then the next morning I woke up to an email that I had got in via the ballot. 

And before I could even chase a BQ in London, I had to endure a truly painful (but equally incredible) NYC Marathon.

And after NYC, I didn't want to run another marathon. I felt like I had to. And I let that attitude hold me back.

Everything we do comes down to our attitude. Why are you doing what you're doing? Because you have to? Because you want to? Both? Because you don't know what else to do? 

With running and even life, it's easy to get frustrated and down on yourself in the first few weeks or months. Everything feels forced, difficult, and impossible. For those of you who have ran before, you get frustrated that you aren't where you used to be. But if you can change your attitude and figure out how to enjoy the process, anything is possible.

Today, we're just about 4 weeks away from the London Marathon. I'm in the absolute best shape of my life and my mental game could not be stronger. Last week's New York City Half Marathon was the boost in confidence I needed to realize that I have this BQ if I'm brave enough to make it happen. I have insurance policies that aren't serving me (See episode 29 of the Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast) and I need to woman up and do everything I can every single day from now until London to get myself across that finish line strong as hell. 

For me, I race my best when I trust everything I've done and go out with gratitude. Because running isn't something I do because I have to. I run because I love it. I started running to take back my life. I kept running because it helps me grieve my loss and redefine my own strength every single day. Running has given me a new life path and it's helped me realize that what I've been through or the mistakes and failures I've endured along the way aren't things to be ashamed about. They're just apart of my story.

With four weeks to go, I want to give everything I can. That means more than just running what my coach Josh puts in my training plan. That means doing my Physical Therapist Mike's exercises and putting in the mental work Dr. Bob has prescribed. Visualizing. Getting more than enough rest. Putting myself first. Owning my strength. Not just trusting the process, but trusting that I am in control. That I can do hard things and that I can have fun pushing myself to that place of pain and discomfort that scares the hell out of me. 

When I started this entire ordeal to try to qualify for Boston, I underestimated myself. I constantly defined what I was and wasn't capable of doing, how strong I was, and I soon realized that I was letting my own insecurities stand in the way of the strongest version of myself. Before the #SportsBraSquad, I thought I would have to lose 20 pounds before I could run anything below a 3 hour and 45 minute marathon. I looked in the mirror and didn't see a body capable of running a BQ. 

But my body was never holding me back, I was. I was the one telling myself that I wasn't good enough, strong enough, or driven enough. I was the one telling myself that I wasn't an athlete. And with the gift of no regrets, no excuses, all that changed. 

There's something liberating about doing everything you can and leaving your heart out on the course. Because failure and quitting is always an option, but when you know you did everything you could, you realize that failure isn't black and white. Patience is the name of this game and I'm just really grateful that I watched Beyonce's Lemonade and felt inspired to chase this BQ in the first place. 

I've worked too damn hard to phone it in now. BQ or Bust has changed my life. I can't even imagine what's going to go down in the next four weeks.

Seat belts on, it's going to be a crazy ride. 

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

9 Comments

Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.