Irrational thought number one: If I talk about my goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon someday, that will jinx it. Such hubris will be punished by the running gods.
Cliché-filled thought number two: That’s ridiculous! Own your goal! You’ve got to believe it to achieve it!
So, here’s an honest look at what I’m thinking right now. I’m 42 years old and currently need a 3:45 to qualify for Boston.
Previous marathon times:
4:02:39 at the Santa Barbara International Marathon (race recap) in 2012
3:57:29 at the Mountains2Beach Marathon (race recap) in 2013
3:52:42 at the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon (race recap) in 2013
That means I need to cut 7 minutes and 42 seconds off my time to qualify for Boston. That might not sound like a lot over the course of 26.2 miles, but it’s the difference between running at a pace of 8:52 per mile (about 6.8 miles per hour) and 8:35 per mile (about 7 miles per hour) for those 26.2 miles. Take into account that it’s hard to run the tangents perfectly for 26.2 miles, and I really need to hit more like an 8:31 pace (7.04 miles per hour) for 26.4 miles.
How do I plan to do that? Well, I’ve been mixing up my training with more hill training, strength workouts, and speed intervals. Then I tested my legs by training and tapering specifically for a half marathon. I came in at 1:48:02, and promptly plugged that time into the McMillan Running Calculator, which predicts that if I can run a half marathon at 1:48:02, I can train to run a full marathon at 3:47:22 (so close to 3:45)! Adjust for the fact that the half marathon had 764 feet of gain over 13.1 miles, while the full marathon course only has 300 feet of gain over 26.2 miles, and I’m optimistic! But then adjust again for the fact that it’s likely to be hotter for the Santa Rosa Marathon in August than it was for the half in Santa Ynez in May, and adjust again for the fact that it’s a challenge for me to fuel properly for 26.2 miles, and I’m completely humbled and intimidated by the prospect of running another full marathon.
All of those calculations and speculations led me to examine the Boston Qualifying standards again, and something stood out to me. The Boston Qualifying rules state that for the age group qualifying standards:
The qualifying times . . . are based upon each athlete’s age on the date of the Boston Marathon in which they are participating.
Did you get that and what it means? It means that in order for me to bump up to the 3:55 qualifying standard from the current 3:45, I can run a qualifying marathon time for the 2017 Boston Marathon in the fall of 2015 when I am age 44 (because qualifying times for the 2017 marathon must be run on or after mid-September 2015). Right?
So, to put it another way, I realized that if I don’t qualify for Boston 2015 at Santa Rosa in August or for Boston 2016 at Surf City in February with a 3:45, I could go for a Boston 2017 time at a fall race in 2015 when I’m 44 but will be age 45 at the time of Boston 2017, which pushes my necessary qualifying time to 3:55. So that means if I can hang on to or better my current PR of 3:52 for another year, I might just make it! Of course, the rules and standards for qualifying could change between now and then, but it seems encouraging to me.
Am I looking at this correctly? Have you qualified for Boston and/or are you currently targeting a BQ at an upcoming race?