Boston Qualified! 2014 – “…but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward!”

Lisa Johnston

My Boston Story is not complete yet. My Boston Qualifying story is. After seven marathon attempts, with my best time being 4:02, I had basically given up qualifying for Boston. I took a five year hiatus from running, had a couple of beautiful baby girls, and finally got back into running in 2012.

In early 2013, my best running friend convinced me to sign up for a 50k. When I got back into running in 2012, I had decided to “never run a marathon again,” so this was a long shot, but I accepted the challenge. A few weeks later, I decided that running a marathon would be a good “training” run for my 50k, so I signed up for the Potomac River Run Marathon.

I had planned to run the marathon at a slow and reasonable “training” pace, but deep in my heart I knew I had more in me than that. I hadn’t run a marathon in six years, and the idea of qualifying for Boston lurked in my head. I quickly quieted my thoughts every time this absurd idea popped into my mind. I reminded myself I had not run a marathon in over six years, and that I had only ever run 4:02. I need to run under 3:35 to qualify for Boston. It was a ridiculous notion to even consider. I would train to run a personal record, not to qualify for Boston.

On April 15, 2013, I watched the events of the Boston Marathon unfold while at work. A feeling of pure horror overcame me. It quickly turned to anger and disgust. I felt what every runner felt. I wanted to show I was not scared to come to Boston and run the marathon and that the putrid acts that occurred that day did not destroy my spirit. I had to prove to myself I could qualify for Boston. My goals had changed.

I asked multiple people for advice about pacing for my marathon the week before. Be safe, they said. It had been years and I had never attempted to run so far so fast. Go out around 8-8:15 pace, they said.

I thought, OK. But I can run faster than that. I knew in my heart I could run faster than that.

I set my watch for 7:30 pace. Dangerous idea.

Sometimes that is all a runner needs. A little challenge.

I finished the marathon in 3:18:04. I fought through a wall that nearly brought me to my knees at mile 24. I finished. A 44 minute PR. More importantly, I did it. I qualified for Boston by over 15 minutes!

My story had only just begun on that day. Fast forward to November 2013. I had struggled through pain and another marathon, and finally received the diagnosis of “labral tear in left hip, bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, hip synovitis, and edema of the pubis.” I had already signed up for Boston. I saw my dream of actually running Boston nearly get flushed down the toilet. I stood up for myself, for what I believe. I avoided the surgery most receive for a labral tear, and I have started training again.

All my days are not pain free. Some are, some are not. This is minimal compared to what happened to hundreds of people at the finish line of Boston last year. They stay in my mind. Finishing stays in my mind. I will run Boston. As the great Martin Luther King once stated “If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

This is my motto for Boston 2014. I will finish.

Lisa Johnston
Reston, Virginia

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