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A marathon runnerís biggest fear: Deferment

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff  March 26, 2010 08:46 AM

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The following is a guest blog post by writer Ben Haber. You can follow Ben on Twitter at twitter.com/bhaber602.

Running a marathon takes a lot of preparation and training. Not only do runners need to get in peak physical shape, they need to plan far in advance as well. Registration for the 2010 Boston Marathon closed in November 2009, five months before the race. In order to sign up last fall runners must have run a qualifying entry time, requiring them to train for and run a previous marathon in 2009. In all, running the Boston Marathon necessitates over a year of planning and dedicated training.

Since the Boston Marathon is in the spring, runners must train through difficult weather conditions and flu season for the majority of their race preparation. Unfortunately, this makes them prime candidates for injuries. While some runners this year will try to power through these injuries, willing to sacrifice their race time for the opportunity to achieve their long-awaited goal of finishing the Boston Marathon, others come to the realization that 2010 is not their year, and fill out the deferment card that sets them back until 2011.

Deferment is not often brought up or talked about in the running world because it feels too much like failure. After so much training and dedication, making the decision not to run is but one of the most difficult choices a runner can make. It feels like giving up when the finish line is so close. And for runners, giving up is never an option.

Sarah Romain, a member of the Greater Boston Track Club, qualified for the 2010 Boston Marathon by running the 2009 New York City Marathon in 3 hours and 19 minutes. In order to run the NYC Marathon she had to achieve a qualifying time in a half marathon, so she has been working towards running Boston for quite some time. However, while training through the winter Sarah suffered from bronchitis, a sinus infection and calf injuries, which resulted in her deferment until the 2011 race.

ďI trained really hard and was really excited,Ē she said. ďBut when your body tells you to stop, you have to listen.Ē Sarah, like other runners that suffered from injuries and illness during the winter, will have to wait until 2011 to get her chance at the famous Boston Marathon course.

While deferring will be one of the most difficult decisions runners will have to make, it also provides them with an instantaneous goal and focus for the next 365 days. They can get healthy, re-examine their training plan and focus on completing their unfinished business the following year. So while their goal of running the Boston Marathon must now be delayed, the taste of victory will be that much sweeter once they are able to run down Boylston Street and cross the finish line with their hands and head held high.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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