When I signed up for Boston last year, I knew that the registration process was no longer first-come, first-served. But I was still at my laptop at 10am on the dot, and had my information submitted just a few minutes later (after checking and re-checking it to make sure I hadn't misspelled anything).
And then I waited - nearly a full week - to find out if my registration had been accepted or not.
I remember how excited I felt hitting 'submit' on that form, and how I wanted to jump up and down and shout it from the rooftops when I got the confirmation email. Everything I felt was centered around pure joy.
This year has definitely been different. There's excitement, to be sure. But it's so tempered.
I logged on shortly after 10am to input my info yesterday (even though I knew, as last year, it wasn't about who logged on first - I still felt better just getting it done), but I didn't want to forfeit my workout for the day, so I took a break while at the gym, ducked into the hallway and sent everything in via my iPhone.
As I finished up the form, I was fighting back tears. I clicked submit, took a few deep breaths, and then returned to finish up my workout.
And surprisingly, later that afternoon, I received my confirmation email.
I never imagined I'd get it so fast, after having to wait nearly a week last year, but it was nice to not have that wait this year.
I felt pretty confident that my 15-minute cushion would be enough to guarantee me a spot, but I also knew I wouldn't feel comfortable until I had that confirmation in hand.
So now I have it, and I'm happy - beyond happy - to know I'm going back, and that I will stand on the starting line in Hopkinton again, and travel that same route again, and cross that finish line again.
But as happy as I am, my heart aches every time I think about it. When I visited the finish line earlier this summer, I left feeling good, and hopeful, and positive. And I know I'll be able to recapture those feelings - the energy of the athletes and spectators next year is going to be beyond compare.
It's still pretty darn tough, though, to muster up the joyful emotions that I felt last year at this time. And I honestly haven't even given much thought to what my goals are or how I'll train. I'm just so focused on how I'm going to process it all emotionally - right now, my brain and my heart can't really move beyond that.
One thing that's going to help tremendously is that several of my friends - who qualified when we went to Philly last November - will also be running. Some of them are already registered, and some are registering tomorrow. With the field already half full, it's a very anxious waiting game for them - and for me, because I so badly want to see them all get in.
But knowing that I won't be doing this alone is going to make all the difference in the world. It still isn't going to be easy, but having friends to share the journey with will make it a whole lot easier.
220 days and counting.....