Today I’m talking with Elizabeth Clor, who recently published a book on her seven year journey (and struggle) with qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Running Before the Boston Journey Began
Growing up Elizabeth was a dancer, but after college she joined a gym to stay active and started to run on the treadmill on the days when her step aerobics class wasn’t in session.
She spent 5 years running on the treadmill–5 YEARS!!!–before getting outside for her runs. She enjoyed the treadmill running in those days, in part because of the calorie counting that the treadmill provided, but now that she’s seen the light she definitely prefers running outside.
Elizabeth became an active member of the running community on MySpace (remember MySpace?), and through the community there she first heard about the Boston Marathon. However, the idea of qualifying for Boston was out of reach at that time.
After running a handful of marathons, Elizabeth’s times kept improving, and as she got closer to breaking the 4 hour mark the idea of possibly qualifying for the Boston Marathon started to become a realistic goal.
She had PRd in 6 straight marathons, so it was only going take another race or two for her to qualify for Boston, right?
Yeah, if only it was that easy…
The Goal Became Clear: Qualify for Boston
Once Elizabeth set her sights on qualifying for Boston, those PRs stopped coming. Coincidence?
For the next couple of years, Elizabeth dealt with a string of bad luck:
- Getting sick before a race
- A hot race (Elizabeth doesn’t do heat really well)
- A cold and wet race, and battling hypothermia during the race
At this point, Elizabeth started to realize that qualifying for Boston was not going to be as easy as she thought it was going to be.
Battling Her Mental Demons
After dealing with the various weather/health issues while trying to qualify for Boston, Elizabeth ran a couple of races where everything seemed to go perfectly except for the race itself.
She’d have great training cycles leading up to the race, run faster times in shorter races during her training, and then really struggle during the marathon.
Elizabeth started to realize, after some serious introspection, that the biggest challenge she was facing in her goal to qualify for Boston was her desire for everything to be perfect.
As a perfectionist, she wanted everything in her running to always be perfect.
She wanted to be in control of everything related to her running, and when things weren’t perfect she would spiral into a depressive state because she couldn’t achieve the time goals that she expected of herself.
Overcoming the Demons
After a couple of bonks in races where the conditions were favorable, Elizabeth came to the realization that her anxiety and perfectionism were at the root of struggles in the marathon.
She started meeting with a sports psychiatrist, and they started working on only trying to worry about the things that Elizabeth could truly control.
It was a slow process, but eventually she had a breakthrough before running the Chicago Marathon.
In the build up to the race, she had what she thought was a minor injury but it ended up taking longer to heal than she thought it was going to and cost her much more time in training than she expected it would. She thought of backing out of the race, but instead she decided to run the race for fun and not worry about her time.
Before that moment, she was very much worried about what others would think about her race times.
But at that moment, when she had her breakthrough, she stopped worrying about what others thought and focused on running the best race she could on that day.
She stopped worrying about the things she couldn’t control (the thoughts/judgements of others) and focused on what she could control (her effort during the race) and it worked!
It still took a couple of years and a handful of races, but that moment leading up to Chicago was THE breakthrough on her way to running the Boston Marathon.
The first time Elizabeth qualified for Boston, she hit her BQ right on the nose: 3:40:00!
Seriously, how does that even happen!
The poetic nature of hitting the qualifying time square on the nose, even though she wouldn’t be able to run Boston the following year because she wouldn’t make the cut off, was when the idea of writing a book about her journey and her struggles took shape.
After reflecting on it some more, she decided to write the book because of how much she changed on her journey to qualifying for Boston and a hope that sharing her story will help others battle and overcome their own mental demons in their pursuit of whatever goals they have–running or otherwise.
And in just the few weeks since Boston Bound has been out, she’s already heard from folks that have thanked her for writing the book.
Boston Marathon 2016
Earlier this year, Elizabeth lined up in Hopkinton to run the Boston Marathon, and it was everything that she hoped it would be!
She said that even though she had such lofty expectations for the race itself, not only did her Boston experience live up to those expectations but it exceeded them as well!
The race itself didn’t go as perfectly as she had hoped, and the weather was less than ideal as well, but she still had a blast running the race.
And perhaps more importantly, she clearly has come a long way towards accepting the things that she couldn’t control and just staying relaxed to run the best race that she can on that particular day.
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