It used to be easy to get into the New York City Marathon. Back in 1993 and most of the 90s you just had to make sure you mailed in your application on the first day you were allowed to do it at the Post Office used by the NYRR. You just had to get to their Post Office in Manhattan at Midnight or first thing in the morning before work. If you were not one of the first few thousand, the lottery was impossible. Then you just needed to know low people who knew people in high places. Not a problem.
Things started getting complicated. (and easier at the same time). Knowing low people no longer helped; you had to run seven (then nine) "qualifying" races. In 2008, they announced you had to volunteer at a NRRR event. These are not necessarily bad ideas. The NYC Marathon had gone from huge to galactic in size.
Around 2001 I noticed a new guaranteed entree option; completing 15 or more NYC Marathons. I did the math. If all goes well, I will do that in November of 2008. Wow! That sounded a long way away, but it was a nice goal.
I often found myself day-dreaming about how it would feel to reach this qualifying standard. I actually made a point to think about it a lot. I knew that visualization could lead to success... It was also a pleasant diversion when the train got stuck and I had nothing to read.
Well, last November I did it. Fifteen NYC finishes. Wow. I was just thinking that the moment was not as special as I thought it would be. I imagined that special volunteers would make room for me at the finish and bring me a special drink. Maybe men in loincloths would start sounding gongs just for me. Or rainbows would appear the moment I finished. No, nothing special. I just remember being a little disjointed when I saw that the official clock was 47 minutes ahead of my watch.
In December I got a little nervous. The NYRR website said nothing about the “finish 15” rule.
In 2008 I did not run nine races and I did not do any volunteering. I emailed the club and got a "don't worry about it" reply. This did not make me feel any better. Anybody at the Road Runners Club who knows what they are talking about does not have time to answer their emails.s.
Today, over 3 months after the Marathon I got my emotional epiphany. At 6 this morning I began my usual routine. I was checking out my friends blogs. I noticed that Brooklyn Running had a post about the fact that if you run the Brooklyn Half in 2009 (whenever that will be) really fast, that that can get you into the NYC Marathon this year. Brooklyn running also included a link to the qualifying standards for the 2009 Marathon. "While the application for the 2009 marathon won't be available until next week, the qualifying standards have been posted."
THE HAIRS ON MY ARM SUDDENLY STOOD UP. IF FELT DIZZY AND SICK. I was afraid to click on "qualifying standards". What would I see? Did I earn what I thought I eared? Did I reach this arbitrary goal?
My emotions took over my body, there it was:
• Those who have completed 15 or more New York City Marathons.
My eyes filled with tears. I saw the rainbow, I heard the gongs. A whole troupe of Chinese Acrobats was performing for me! It was the moment I was dreaming about.
Or maybe NYRR had just had enough of me.