After qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 2007, I decided to make it my lifelong goal to qualify in every age bracket.
They are as follows:
|18-34||3hrs 10min||3hrs 40min|
|35-39||3hrs 15min||3hrs 45min|
|40-44||3hrs 20min||3hrs 50min|
|45-49||3hrs 30min||4hrs 00min|
|50-54||3hrs 35min||4hrs 05min|
|55-59||3hrs 45min||4hrs 15min|
|60-64||4hrs 00min||4hrs 30min|
|65-69||4hrs 15min||4hrs 45min|
|70-74||4hrs 30min||5hrs 00min|
|75-79||4hrs 45min||5hrs 15min|
|80 and over||5hrs 00min||5hrs 30min|
I figured this was a great goal because as long as I'm alive, at least up to 80 and over I have something to shoot for every five years. I still think it's a great idea. So having just turned 36, I decided it was time to try to pull off age bracket 2.
3:15. That's a 7:26 pace if my multiplication is right. Whew. I guess that's why they call it a challenge. Well, it wasn't going to get any easier next year. So I started training.
I decided to run the Columbus Marathon. It is known to be "fast" (there is no such thing as a fast course in my opinion - though there is such a thing as a slow one). But the main reason I chose this one was that my in-laws live there. One key to marathon running I have learned is to have a comfortable bed to sleep in the night before and after the race. Besides, I really love running in Columbus. It is generally flat. The neighborhoods are beautiful. And the weather in October is typically ideal.
We went up on Friday. Went to a pumpkin patch on Saturday. Watched the painful Ohio State game Saturday night. Sunday we raced.
Training had gone relatively well. Based on other marathon trainings, my mileage was way down. I decided for this marathon I'd focus on speed work. (Besides, time is of the essence for two working parents with two kids.) So I did two speed 5k workouts a week. Then, two fun runs - usually 4-7 milers on one of my favorite routes around Winston. Then, a long run. The Wonderland trip hit me right at my peak. So I missed a 20 miler.
I ganked up my ankle pretty bad on the trail, but my thought process was that hiking for 93 miles with a 40 pound pack for a week at elevation couldn't hurt my endurance training. I don't think it did. The injury was frustrating but it was more walking, starting and stopping related then running. It hurt in the beginning and after each workout. The middle actually felt all right.
My longest run was two weeks out. It was a 21.67 miler around Winston on a Thursday night. I was tired but it felt promising. I did a half marathon distance the following weekend and thought I was going to die.
The thing was I did want to qualify for Boston. But what I really wanted to do was officially break the 3 hour mark. My last qualifying marathon was a 3:07 in a 30 mile headwind. It was brutal. I was convinced that had the weather been favorable, I could have broken 3 hours with ease. But it wasn't. And I could rationalize all I wanted, but I still wouldn't have an official time sub 3.
So secretly I was hoping to make it this time. I didn't tell anyone. Publicly, I told folks that 3:15 was the goal. It was. It just wasn't the only one. I just didn't know if I could hit the other one. And I have too much stinking pride to be honest sometimes.
Race day, the conditions were great. No excuse there. I was placed in corral 1, so no excuse about bottlenecks or not getting to pace quick enough. Really, I didn't have any excuse. I even had folks to cheer and hand me GUs at mile 20. All I had was the question. Could I do it?
I started fast but quickly settled down. My first mile was a 6:43. I asked this older fella because my watch didn't start. I also asked him what time he was hoping to hit. He said 2:57. That was the winning time for 50-55 years the last three years. He (John) was hoping to win it this time.
2:57 I thought. Hmmm. I'm sticking with him. So I did. For 21 miles. He was a Godsend. He finally took off and finished in 2:54. (He won). On second thought, maybe he didn't take off. Maybe I just slowed down. I have to admit the last few miles were a blur.
Lia and Caitlin, who had run the half, and Rich cheered me on at mile 26. I turned the corner and saw the clock. 2:57:37. I couldn't believe it. I started to cry. It was about all I could do.
I was so happy. I hadn't decided whether or not I was actually going to go ahead and run the Boston this time. Monday was the sign up day. Driving home, I decided, hey, why not? I doubt I'll ever have a faster time. Turns out I wasn't fast enough (at least my fingers weren't). Boston sold out by the time I turned the computer on. Sigh. I guess my saga with the most famous race in the world continues...
I'm still happy. The challenge is to qualify. Five more years until I have to go through it again.