Rethinking The Boston Marathon

I am not trying to qualify for Boston. Let’s be clear about that. And up until this Saturday, thinking of trying to qualify this year wasn’t even on my radar. I’m still just trying to break a four-hour marathon. My best time to date is 4:15:01. To qualify for Boston, I need to run a 3:45 marathon. Drop thirty minutes off my time in one year? Not likely.

And yet…

I’m training this season under the Furman FIRST program. The program has you use recent races to evaluate what marathon time you’re capable of training for and achieving. Last Saturday I ran a 10K (6.2 miles) in downtown Greensboro. My time was 51:05. Per the charts, this means I should train for a 3 hour and 58 minute marathon. Worrisome. That only gives me two minutes to play around with water stops and any mental/physical breakdowns.

Then yesterday I ran a 5k (3.1 miles). My time was 23:01. Per Furman, this indicates I’m capable of training for a 3 hour and 45 minute marathon… Boston Qualifying time for me.

I spent some time studying the training paces IF I decide I want to train for a 3:45 marathon. Furman does 3 days of running – intervals on the track, tempo runs, and long runs. I’m pretty sure I can hang with the pace charts for the tempo and long runs. They’ll be challenging, but I think I can do them.

Evil! Evil! Evil!I do not, however, think I can pull off the paces required for the track work for a 3:45 marathon. I have some mental block about the track anyway. I quit easily. It’s just so hard (insert whining) and it hurts. I’ll do slow-paced endurance runs all day long. But there are no fast-twitch fibers in my legs. I dislike gasping for air and the heavy lactic acid feeling in the legs that comes with track work. I understand that there is no better way to become a faster and more efficient runner than putting time in on the track. I absolutely see the difference when I do the work. I still just hate it.

So obviously I’m going to need to spend a little time working on being more positive about my time on the track this summer and perhaps that will help my pace there. My next track workout is this Tuesday. I’m going to see if I can do the paces set out for the 3:45 training level. If it’s just too much, what I may do is dial back the track workouts but maintain the tempo and long run paces for the 3:45 marathon.

My idea is to train at my Boston Qualifying Time pace which gives me an extra 15 minutes to pull off my actual goal of running under a 4-hour marathon. That’s where I am now, anyway. I’ll reevaluate as summer moves along. I may find the paces too daunting at this level to maintain. Or I may find myself growing stronger and thinking I actually have a shot at running a Boston qualifying time. We’ll see.

To end on a high note, I did a 12-mile run this morning by myself. That’s a first for me. I don’t think I’ve ever gone much over 6-7 miles alone in my life. But I did the 12 miles on pace, no problem. I’m more encouraged than you know by that. I always think of myself as relying on others during my runs to pull/talk/motivate me thorough it. It’s nice to know I can actually do it on my own.