This Is Why I Run - Jerry Canterbury
"I used to run from who I was. Now I run toward who I can be."
In 2008 I was a short, slow, overweight couch potato. After buying new larger pants once again, I decided that I needed to get back to who I used to be. I had never been an athlete – far from it – but at least I had been skinny. At New Year’s 2009, at age 45, I set two important goals that would set the stage for the rest of my life. I changed my diet to lose weight. And I learned to swim. I succeeded at both.
With a new body and attitude, I tried my hand at triathlon. While my swim speed can best be described as ‘glacial’, my run pace improved over time. After completing three Ironman-distance triathlons, faster each time, I began to think about if how much better my run speed could improve if I focused purely on that. Before I gained the weight, I had run a marathon in 2001. Even though I was in better shape now, that first marathon was a much younger version of me. Now 17 years older, could I cut nearly an hour off that time?
I set Boston as my goal and told everyone so I couldn’t back out. I engaged a coach and began focused workouts. I asked other runners for advice. I made multiple BQ attempts, and each attempt came up a little short. I learned that running a marathon is about more than speed. It is also about nutrition and avoiding injury. It’s about your mental state and believing in yourself. Most importantly, it is about how bad do you want it. I wanted it bad – bad enough to travel across the entire continental U.S. to run the best course for me.
On race day for the Tunnel Light Marathon, I was running toward who I could be. Could an old slow guy convert himself to a Boston qualifier just on guts and grit? Only race day would tell. My report of race day, documenting more highs and lows along the way, is available at this link. I hope my experience can help others, as others’ experiences helped me."
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