Archive for December 9, 2011

I was born in 1967 which is relatively unremarkable.

The one thing that birth year did for me however was make me a High School student in the 1980’s.

It was a decade filled with movies that are still watched over and over by new generations of teenagers time and time again.  This was the age of the “coming of age” type films – All the right moves, the Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Making the Grade (lesser known, but pretty awesome) – but one movie in particular stuck with me more than most.

It wasn’t because it had a superior plot, a big budget or more star-power.  But it resonates with the athlete who has big dreams, perhaps even foolish ones and is resigned to chase them down on his own.  That pretty much defines the competitive distance runner.

Vision Quest.

If you haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it in a while, you might want to tee it up on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

It is the story of Louden Swain, Louden Swain has just turned eighteen, this being the year he’s going to make his mark in life, or as his friend Kuch calls it, his vision quest.  His chosen goal is to wrestle and beat Brian Shute, known as the best high school freestyle wrestler in Washington state.  Shute is undefeated in his high school career.  The issue is that Louden has to drop two weight classes to do so.  This quest is much to the chagrin of Louden’s coach and teammates as although Louden is an inexperienced wrestler, he is naturally gifted and focused and was primed to win the state championship in his own weight class.

Just making the weight to get on the mat with Shute is a huge challenge for Louden.  Once that is accomplished by the narrowest of margins he goes toe to toe with Shute.

There is a love interest and plot twist of course as this is after all a 1980’s teen movie that debuted my senior year of high school (1985), Madonna makes her film debut as a night club singer – but the story is about Louden and his Vision Quest.

Monday morning we will be 18 weeks from the 116th running of the Boston Marathon.

Boston is my Brian Shute.

For me to run Boston as a qualifier is pretty special.  My 3:08:09 qualifying time means that regardless of age, I am heading to Boston with a time that is lower than the “fastest” time required of the youngest male runners (18-34) of 3:10:00 for the 2012 race.  That time will drop to 3:05:00 for the 18-34 year old group for 2013.

For me my required qualifying time for this year was 3:20:00.  Pretty much destroyed that one.

For 2013 when I move up in age group to the 45-49 year old crowd my time gets adjusted to 3:25:00 under the new rules.  That really isn’t even a goal on my radar right now.  That’s the thing about goal setting, you really need to do that yourself.

Someone on the outside looking in trying to determine your dreams, desires, capabilities and willingness to “work” is bound to either assign an arbitrary goal for you that is either too easy or unattainable.  Rarely can they do a better job than you can of knowing what defines “excellence” for you.

For me, qualifying to return to the Boston Marathon this year was my battle against making weight and getting on the mat with Shute.

All I did was earn the chance to board that bus to Hopkinton on April 16th and take my 2nd shot at Boston.  Really, I haven’t done anything yet.

What happens from there will be determined over these next 18 weeks.  It will be about how hard I am willing to work, how far I am willing to put it out there during training and how smart I can prepare and stay healthy.

I have thought about the Boston Marathon at least one time each and every day since I came through the finishing chute on April 16, 2010 with my tail between my legs.  Boston beat me, but it didn’t break me.  I gave great effort that day, I battled every step for 26.2 miles, but I know in my heart that there is more inside of me.

I can do better.  I will do better.

There is a part near the end of the movie where Louden’s friend Kuch (in a rare appearance by Michael Schoeffling who played Jake Ryan in 16 candles) looks at Louden before the match with Shute and says, “no matter what happens – things will never be the same.”

Exactly right.  No matter what happens in Boston on April 16th, things will never be the same.