Runner Reads: “Four Seconds from Boston” by Vince Pavic

It’s not often that I get to read a book by someone I know, so I was interested to read “Four Seconds From Boston” by Vince Pavic. I don’t know him too well, but he is a fellow member of the Eastern Shore Running Club and now lives in the same area I do — Salisbury, Maryland.

“Four Seconds From Boston” by Vince Pavic

The book follows Pavic’s mission to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and the chapters each cover a different marathon he ran, with a few additional chapters that are not centered around a specific marathon.

If you know anything about the Boston Marathon, you can probably guess by the cover whether Pavic, who at the time lived in Pennsylvania, ended up running the famous race.

Most runners also probably know that the Boston Marathon is a sought-after race to get into and could likely be the pinnacle of someone’s running life. As a female in the 18-35 age group, I’d have to run 26.2 miles in less than 3 hours and 35 minutes to qualify. I can’t even run a half marathon at that per-mile pace.

My fastest marathon — my first one, 4:17:45 — would have qualified me as a 60-to-64-year-old woman. But none of my marathons since have been as fast as that one, and who knows if I will be able to run at a similar pace in 35 or so years or if the qualifying times will change by 2050.

As a man, the times Pavic was striving for were much faster: 3:15 and then 3:20 as he went into the next age group. (I just used a race calculator, and running a 3:20 marathon is a 7:38 pace — for 26.2 miles. That’s fast!) I was impressed at the paces Pavic was able to hit for his marathons, including races in which he did not qualify for Boston, and I could tell by the way he wrote the book that it was extremely important to him to accomplish this goal. It seemed like he wasn’t going to let himself not qualify for Boston, especially since in one of his marathons he was just four seconds away from qualifying.

Although Pavic is much faster than me, I felt the book was relatable. One of the marathons he ran was the Baltimore Marathon, and I ran that race last year. As I read this chapter, I recalled doing the same thing he wrote about doing — finding a parking spot easily and relaxing in my car a little bit before the race.

In addition to his quick paces, Pavic’s improvement and drive impressed me throughout the book. I’m trying not to be super-specific throughout this post as not to give anything away, but he deals with an injury that just seems horrible. Though it seems to happen often to us runners, no runner wants to deal with an injury. Not running for any amount of time is bad enough, but it is likely on another level when training for a particular time goal.

I took a couple pictures of passages to remind myself things to blog about as I was reading, and one of them was this, on page 107: “Winning and succeeding easily devalues winning. Winning and succeeding in the face of adversity and hard times and fighting through those experiences are what sports are all about.”

This makes a lot of sense to me. If you set a goal and accomplish it immediately, what’s the point? It probably means the goal is too easy. For example, I had a longtime goal of setting a new PR in the 5K. It took me almost seven years to accomplish, but when I finally did it, it felt amazing and like I had really worked for something.

I know it’s been a while since I blogged in this Runner Reads series, but I’m hoping it won’t be as long next time. I’m part of a non-running-related book club and have also been running a decent amount. The next book I’ll be reading for this series is “My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom and Insights of a Road Racing Icon” by Bart Yasso with Kathleen Parrish.

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6 thoughts on “Runner Reads: “Four Seconds from Boston” by Vince Pavic

  1. Nice review but I couldn’t tell if you just liked the author, the book, or both? I’ve discovered that I like to read memoirs of authors and journalists; even more so if the author is a runner. The minds of writers and their ability to put words to paper make great reads. Murakami, Tom Foreman, recently Jen Miller. I am planning on reviewing Miller’s “Running A Love Story” on my blog this week. I recommend the book… But I can’t figure out why… It chronicles a very difficult time in the writer’s life so there’s nothing amusing or lighthearted about it. I guess it felt… Honest. Anyway! I guess I just saved you from reading my full review, lol! Have a good night.

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    1. I liked both! 🙂 It’s interesting to read about others’ experiences. “Running: A Love Story” was actually the first book I wrote about for this series. I’ve read some other books as well that I blogged about but was trying to keep up with one a month and couldn’t do it. It’s nice when you can tell they are writing from the heart. I think Tom Foreman’s was another I have on my mental list of books to read.

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