Taking part in the most important marathon of the century

Below is the account of my journey to qualify to run my very first Boston Marathon. I was so excited by my first qualifying time in the spring of 2013 that I completed five more marathons before the year was over. In November at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I got my marathon time down to 2:47:09. Not surprisingly, the cumulative damage from those races was more than my body could handle. By February 2014, I was lucky to string together two days of running without injury. All of my Boston preparation efforts from 2013 left me with nothing left for Boston itself!

If this had been any other marathon, I hope I would have done the sensible thing and dropped out. But this was BOSTON. I had literally spent a decade dreaming about competing in the legendary Boston Marathon. I wasn’t willing to abandon that dream when I was so close. And so I pushed onward. I took lots of rest days, I slowed to 8-minute pace, and my longest run was eight miles. I might not arrive in top condition, but I was going to make it to that starting line.

And I’m so glad I did! April 21st, 2014 in Boston was indescribable.

Runners were absolutely everywhere, all of them eager to share their personal Boston stories. Businesses prominently displayed inspiring banners and marathon decorations to show their Boston pride. The streets were overflowing with spectators during the race (I gave enough high-fives to last me a lifetime).

This event wasn’t only for the runners, as is the case with most marathons, it was a race for the entire city. All of us were there to take part in the most important marathon of the century.

In the end, that’s all that mattered. In those months leading up to the marathon, I had agonized over how I wouldn’t perform well in Boston. But I had it all wrong: no one cared if I finished 100th or 10,000th. Although we reveled in an American victory, for most of us this year wasn’t about competition. This year was about the community that cannot be broken.

In time, even I won’t remember my finishing time. I won’t remember my placement. All I will remember is I was a part of something much larger than myself. I was a part of the 118th Boston Marathon.

Kyle Durham
Florence, Kentucky

For more personal accounts of the 2014 Boston marathon, click here.

All our most recently posted stories can be found on the BOSTONLOG homepage.

May 2013: Sometimes getting into the field of the Boston Marathon is more than half the story. Here is an account for a first time entrant Kyle Durham.

When my running hit a plateau in 2007, I decided that I needed a change. It was time to master a new distance. The mystical concept of “the Wall” is what first drew me to the marathon. I had never experienced that kind of pain. I wanted to face the challenge and see how I stacked up.

Whether or not to try for the Boston Marathon was never a question. My competitive nature immediately kicked in. Boston was in my sights.

My first marathon attempt in 2007 was disastrous. It was literally the most humiliated I’ve ever felt. A few years passed before I fully recovered. But in 2011 I was ready to go again! My training was more well-rounded, more challenging, and several weeks longer. Additionally, the course I had chosen was flat with crisp October weather. My 3:10:59 was in the bag. And it was! Unfortunately for me, October 2011 marked the drop of the Boston qualifying time for my age group to 3:05:00.

That was it for me. I put everything I had into the 2011 training. I dropped my finishing time by six minutes. I didn’t have another four minutes to give.

But funny things happen when a boy meets the right girl. My girlfriend (now fiancée) believed in me more than anyone had before. She listened to the horror stories from my marathons, and she told me, “… but I know you could qualify if you wanted to try again.”

The rest is history. I don’t know if it was solely her belief in me or what – but I never had a problem qualifying for Boston again. Truth be told, I couldn’t admit to this unbelievable girl that the marathon beast had beaten me. I needed to prove to her I had the drive to achieve everything I ever wished to achieve.

BQ with 10:44 to spare (5/05/2013) at Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon,
eight days after running Louisville’s Kentucky Derby Marathon in 2:56:23
Sunburst Marathon 6/1/13
Third sub-three hour race within six weeks

The marathon is big, it’s scary, and it requires an unreasonable amount of preparation and dedication… every single time. There are no shortcuts or cheats. You have to be willing to sacrifice every bit of yourself with no guarantee of success. But we have to keep trying. By pushing ourselves to our limits, we truly discover that we’re limitless.

Kyle Durham
Florence, Kentucky
April 21, 2014
Age – 28
Bib # 1169