Two great races, one tough decision

The Rome Marathon

The Boston Marathon
Now that the pipe dream of becoming one of the first lung challenged athletes ever granted a mobility impaired slot in the Boston marathon has become reality, I have to make some tough decisions about the other marathon that I love so much. I’m referring of course, to the Rome marathon. Obviously, I can’t do both ..(they’re only 4 weeks apart). I think it would be a huge disappointment it I went all the way to Italy and wasn’t able to participate in the race, but it would be an even bigger disappointment if I went to Italy, got sick and then had to forgo Boston.

Most people would say it’s a no-brainer…just cancel Rome!… but it’s not that easy for me. The Rome marathon promoters and the Italian media have been very kind to me and I hate to give the impression that I chose Boston over Rome. In my opinion the Rome marathon is the best marathon in the world for ambiance and historical scenery. I had a wonderful time doing it last year and wanted very much to do it again. The Boston marathon on the other hand, is without doubt, the most prestige pedestrian race of all time and is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone like me. If I passed up this opportunity, I’d probably regret it for the rest of my life. I will never get a chance to do it again, because for all practical purposes, after this next race, I’m done with full marathons. My body just can’t handle the 26.2 mile distance anymore. After this, it’s half marathons or less.

So these are my options……. What would you do?

Option#1) Cancel my upcoming trip to Italy and reschedule at a later date when I don’t have a marathon to worry about.

Option#2) Go to Rome next month as planned , but only for 10 days instead of 3 weeks. Be present at the Rome marathon starting line as promised , but only walk the first half of the marathon(13.1 miles) and then voluntarily withdraw. I wouldn’t receive recognition for finishing, but that’s OK, because at least I would be able to say I participated , and by doing only half of the Rome Marathon, not only would I be saving my legs, but I’d be doing a 13 mile taper walk that I would have to anyway for Boston.

Option#3) Go to Rome as scheduled , but skip the marathon.

What ever I decide, I have to do it soon. The Rome marathon is only 4 weeks away and Boston is only 8 weeks out.

Btw….even though I was granted a disability slot in the Boston Marathon, I still had to have a qualifying finish time from a previous certified race, albeit a much more generous one than for regular entrants.

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10 Comments

  1. Fran says:

    Hey Steve,

    That’s a tough call. I would vote Option #2, since it allows you to do both to some extent, but it might effect your health leading up to Boston. But i do understand your loyality to the Rome marathon. Whatever you decide, i’m sure it will be after weighing all the pros and cons and will be the right decision.

  2. Steve says:

    As crazy as it sounds Fran, my biggest fear if I were to do # 2, is that I wouldn’t stop at mile 13.

    Im gonna talk to my Italian friends this weekend and see what they would do. Thanks for the input!

  3. kerri says:

    I definitely agree with option 2!
    I was reading your blog from the beginning, and I definitely think I understand how you might not be able to stop at 13!

    Also, I just checked out your blogroll–thanks for linking my blog!! I hovered over, though, and the snapshot didn’t pop up–did it link, or is my computer just being nuts?

    Best of luck with your decision, Steve!

  4. Sus says:

    This is the craziest of dire situations to find yourself in!

    Is there no way for either race you could do a half marathon, don’t they run (pun, sorry) a half and a full race together?

    Therefore compete, and finish in both, medal, get a time and the recognition, but not actually blow out either or withdraw as a non finisher or a non starter!

    Can’t wait to hear your decision!

    Sus xx

    PS, Love it, love it, love it!
    In the UK, ‘Disabled’ means you can’t walk 50 yards without extreme difficulty and or discomfort, and or SOB. We do take the P on occasion, don’t we! (But they should see us struggling round the house on anything but a good lung day!) In the US, my disability is awarded on the grounds of my FEV1 being below whatever that form says! Here it’s done on a walk test!

  5. Steve says:

    Hi Susannah, The last time I had contact with you, you were on the verge of having to back into the hospital. You must be doing better now?

    Unfortunately, neither of these races have a half marathon division.

    This whole thing is looking less likely by the day. There are just too many logistical problems . As you might imagine, traffic will be a nightmare anywhere in Rome on race day, so getting either to or from the half way point would be be nearly impossible unless I had a helicopter.
    If I go to Rome and participate at all in the marathon, it will probably just be the 4K fun run. Though Im not sure that walking with 65,000 other people in close proximity would be to healthy either. :-))

    As far as the definition of ” disabled” as it applies to lung disease, I think it’s still pretty subjective and that’s why it’s so difficult to come up with a standard which would allow athletes with severe lung problems to compete with other disabled athletes. Here in the US, the Social Security Disability Administration uses the FEV1/FVC system to determine whether someone is permanently disabled ( for work purposes) For example; for someone my age and height, the baseline FEV1 has to be <48% , or an FVC <1.25 liters to be considered to sick to work and receive disability benefits .

    In the UK, I would not be considered disabled, because during a 6 min walk test, though I may wheeze or huff and puff, I could easily knock out a third of a mile, maybe even half a mile.

    In my opinion, basing the severity of a lung disease on a 6 min walk test is not fair, because it assumes that everyone doing the test has the same level of pre-test fitness. The results of a walk test for an athlete would be much different than the results of a couch potato, even if there FEV1s were the same.

    I think permanent changes in lung function is a much better indicator of severity :-D

  6. Amy says:

    I agree with the others – #2 seems like the best of both worlds. And hey–you’ve given great press (and will continue to do so, I’m sure) to the Rome marathon and to Italy itself. I bet the organizers there appreciate THAT as well as you appreciate THEIR help and support. I mean, this post alone & the fact that you’re so conflicted is good press for them.

  7. Steve says:

    Hi Amy, Thanks for you your input. I actually spoke with the Rome marathon race director this morning (about 5am because of the time difference …lol). While they are somewhat disappointed that I can’t do the entire marathon and cross which would allow them to”show me off” at the finish line, they totally understand how important the Boston marathon is to any athlete and the they wish me the very best no matter what I decide. (Actually, the Rome marathon is Boston qualifying race.)

    This biggest problem with me doing a partial marathon, is the logistics of getting me back to the starting line after I finish. Almost every road will be closed to traffic in Rome and there are no metro stations near the half way point.

    I may do a symbolic 4k walk ( along with 60,000 other people) ,so they can interview me after.

    Im going to make a final decision next week. : ;-)

  8. Sus says:

    Aw, Steve, that sucks about decisions decisions decisions! Who’d have thought you’d find yourself in this situation now, considering, like roughly a year ago when you were banged up and tubed….You are one tough, stubborn cookie.

    I guess we all wait with baited breath, to hear your final decision. I can sure understand the logistics-we live just out of London and you can imagine that city on it’s annual marathon weekend! One day you just gotta make it over here for it…..

    I am hanging in ok here and improving…….another donut minus the hole I think!

    And would you believe it, we’ll be in transit for a couple of hours on the day of the Boston, Monday, April 20th, in San Francisco! We’re flying home via SFO as we’ve been upgraded to 1st-incredible luck, and it’s a much better night flight time- gets into London lunchtime-perfect!

    Hugs oh crazy one xx

  9. Danielle says:

    It’s my first time checking out your blog: love it! Love the sidebar too. Good luck with all the decision-making. It’s all quite remarkable and inspirational, keep it up!

  10. Phil says:

    It’s fantastic that you have this choice to make! I ran Boston last year, and it is an amazing experience. The crowds are the best for any race that I know. The Rome marathon is right at the top of my list of marathons I want to run someday, so it is a tough choice.
    If you can only pick one, I would say choose Boston. You might not get this opportunity again and you have already done Rome, and you can do it again next year.
    Whatever you decide, good luck!

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