The waiting game has finally ended. I'm in.
On April 18, 2011, I'll be lining up at the starting line of the Boston Marathon, sporting my familiar purple Team In Training singlet.
As with all Boston charity running programs, there is an application process -- and more runners vying for the chance to run 26.2 miles and raise $3,500 than there are spots.
The application was several pages long and required me to explain my volunteering and fundraising experience in detail. It asked me questions about my running - how often I run, what pace I run, please list other distance events I've done.
The application also brought the focus back to the mission - the reason TNT exists - asking for any personal connections I have to blood cancers and the cause.
I submitted the application with little doubt that I'd be accepted. After all, I've dedicated countless hours to helping TNT runners.
As the days and weeks slowly ticked by, I began to question whether I'd make the team. What if there were a lot of people just like me out there?
Then came registration day - Oct. 18 - when thousands and thousands of qualified runners flooded the Boston Athletic Association website to grab their spot in the 115th running of the Boston Marathon.
A race that took weeks and sometimes years to fill in previous years was full in eight short hours. The result, of course, was the many qualified runners were shut out.
My heart ached for those runners. I've watched and followed the training and progress of "virtual" and real friends' quest to qualify. I smiled with them when they made it; I felt for them when they didn't.
And I felt nothing but pure confusion when I found out they didn't get in before the race filled up.
All of those hours, the pain, the early morning runs, the sweat and focus - all done in hopes of being in the pack on April 18, 2011 - suddenly meant nothing.
Not surprisingly, there was a near-instant backlash. Registration was promoted - hyped, really - heavily on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. The BAA, and the people who re-tweeted and shared the posts, created a sense of urgency.
Get in soon, because the race will fill up fast, they warned.
With the race full, discussion and criticism flew out from all directions - tighten the qualifying standards, increase the size of the field, get rid of charity runners.
Get rid of charity runners? Like me?
I admit I felt almost guilty that there was a chance I'd get into a race that so many qualified people - people who earned their spot there - did not. The day after the registration fiasco, I emailed my TNT contact to ask a simple question: If I gave up my spot, assuming I got one, could it go to a qualified runner?
The answer was quick and simple - and quite logical, if I actually let my head (instead of my heart) do the thinking. Any qualified runner who wanted to join the team would have to go through the same application process and take on the same fundraising challenge.
If I got chosen, they reminded me, it was because I earned that spot. I put in the volunteer hours, the training time and the fundraising help.
Not to mention, I was the one who was willing to not only commit to the training and the 26.2 miles, but I'd also be willing to commit to the money. (If I don't raise the the minimum of $3,250, my credit card gets charged for the balance - talk about commitment!)
Still, the thought of taking a spot in the race made me a bit uneasy.
Then I got the call. It was a voicemail message from TNT's local office congratulating me on my acceptance into the 2011 Boston Marathon program. I played the message again, aloud.
Wow, I was in. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm still feeling a bit guilty.
But I'm ready to go.
**REMEMBER, I'm running the Boston Marathon to help save lives! Please visit my fundraising page to support a good cause and learn more about a very special little boy. http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston11/trobinsy2v ...THANK YOU for your support!**