Chasing the Unicorn

Ask any serious runner what races are on their bucket lists and I am willing to bet that Boston makes the top five on every list. It’s America’s oldest and most prestigious marathon. Its symbol is appropriate – a unicorn. The unicorn was believed to have been chosen due to its role in mythology. The unicorn represents an ideal: something to pursue, but can never be caught. In pursuit of the unicorn, however, runners can approach excellence, but never fully achieve it. It is the pursuit to push oneself to the limit and to the best of one’s ability, the very core of athletics. For this reason, the Boston Athletic Association decided the Unicorn would be the ideal symbol for the marathon.

With all this being said, this race is on my personal list of races to run. It is my unicorn of races. It’s a race I have been chasing since I ran my first marathon in 2011. It was the Detroit Free Press International marathon, in a time of 3:46:08. Six minutes and eight seconds off from the qualifying standard that year (3:40). I was crushed. So close, yet so far. But my quest continued. I have since run six marathons but have not been able to qualify. To top things off the B.A.A. changed the qualifying standards by 5 minutes.

My most recent attempt was at the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 8th, 2017. I failed again. I had an official finishing time of 3:50:36. Given the conditions of the race (30 degrees and 15mph winds) I know this time should be nothing to frown at. Overall, I was pleased I was able to do that well and I partly believe it was because I trained my butt off in the Michigan winter. But it still broke my heart when I fell short of my goal of getting that elusive BQ.

If I have learned anything from all of my years of running – not every race will be a PR. There will be hardships in the journey but you can’t give up. You have to get there, to prove that no matter how intangible your dream, if you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Unicorns do exist, and it’s time for me to catch mine!

Written by Chelsea Caterino, 2017 Fitness Ambassador