Dealing with Disappointment

2014_boston_registration_newsWednesday was not a good day for me.  I received the following email from Boston Athletic Association.

Thank you for submitting your application for entry into the 2014 Boston Marathon. Regrettably, we are unable to accept your application due to field size limitations and the large number of applications we received from Qualified runners.

Name of Applicant


Age on 4-21-2014

Submitted Qualifying Time

John Keller




Entries from applicants in your age group were accepted through and including the time 3:53:22.

So I missed the cutoff by 32 seconds. (This new cut-off was due to the large number of registrations for next year’s marathon after the bombing in 2013.  In a normal year, I probably could have registered without any problem, since the standard Boston Qualifying time for my age group is 3:55:00. I wrote about this dream in a previous post: Marathon Dreams

Needless to say I was disappointed.  Ever since I completed my first marathon in 1999, I have had a goal of running Boston.   It is the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the country. The very act of qualifying is a challenge.  A runners needs to run a marathon under the qualifying time within 18 months of Boston.  I did qualify in 2005 but a running injury kept me from running in 2006.  I was able to re-qualify in 2012, but as it turns out, not quite fast enough.

I felt  sad and dejected on Wednesday as Boston slipped again beyond my reach.  I felt anger at the circumstances that prevented me from accomplishing my goal.  I wondered if I had the mental, physical and spiritual reserves to go through the rigorous training necessary for me to run another qualifying marathon, in hopes of running Boston in 2015.

But I also took time to reflect about my “attachment” to Boston.  Perhaps I have over invested emotional and spiritual value into a simple race.  I have been reading, Anthony De Mello’s Awareness. He states that we are programmed by social conventions to think that our happiness is dependent on outward circumstances.

When we were young, we were programmed to unhappiness. They taught us in order to be happy you need money, success, a beautiful or handsome partner in life, a good job, friendship, spirituality, God — you name it.  Unless you get these things, you’re not going to be happy, we were told. Now, that is what I call an attachment. An attachment is a belief that without something you are not going to be happy.  Once you get convinced of that — and it gets into your subconscious it gets stamped into the roots of our being — you are finished. (P 134)

I am coming to realize that my fixation on Boston may not be healthy for my overall spiritual health.  It can become an idol that distracts me from my true calling to seek after Jesus.

let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,  Hebrews 12: 1-2.

 I may or may not train for another marathon. If I do, it will be because I enjoy the challenge and rigor of training in the moment.  The goal is to be alive today, not obsessed about some future achievement.

How have you dealt with disappointment in your life?

Lord Jesus, you have been, are and forever shall be the real prize.


7 thoughts on “Dealing with Disappointment

  1. opreach

    Thank you for sharing your disappointment with us, John. We can all identify. Disappointment is guaranteed, overcoming the disappointments takes some practice. Perhaps there is a special way that you can spend that day that you hadn’t thought of yet . . . sharing your joy with others. Blessings!! Pat

  2. Jeanne Fleming

    I can understand your very understandable disappointment. On the other hand, you should take great joy that after many attempts amid injuries, you did indeed qualify. This achievement alone should be celebrated.

    Run for the sheer joy of it…..Jeanne Fleming

  3. Andy Woodard

    I also have hopes of running in Boston. I have a long view of this goal since I am really just not fast enough to qualify at my current age. However if I can keep the body in check and keep working hard for 10 more years, yes 10 then maybe I will make the 3:53:21 cutoff or whatever it is. At least I won’t be disappointed for another 10 years.


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