So the Boston Marathon came out with their new qualifying procedures yesterday. We all knew they’d do something, but I wasn’t expecting something so intelligent. Basically it’s like this.. they have a two week registration window. If you’re 20 minutes faster than your age group’s qualifying time, you get to register on the first two days. If you’re 10 minutes faster you get to register starting on the third day. On the fifth day, you can register if you’re 5 minutes faster than your qualifying time. On the seventh day… nevermind, you know it’s going to be full by then. This means that the fastest and most worthy will enter the race. It’ll be faster than it’s been in years. I like it and it’s not just because I’ll be able to register early (it took me 3 marathons, remember).
Now that we’ve upped the ante, I almost want to run it again just because it’s even more prestigious. Let me recap my marathon history. It’s a history of hurt. I ran my first marathon in 2008, A goal was a BQ (3:10) and B goal was finishing. I made it 17 miles at 7:15/mi before the wheels fell off. I was satisfied. I was a one and done marathoner. Then 6 months later, after the torment of the last 7 miles became a distant memory, I started to get the itch again. “I’ll NEVER run another marathon” became “Well, I kind of want to qualify for Boston.” So I signed up for another one. I trained my butt off. I ran a 1:20:08 half a month early so I was ready, but I completely burned out before the race. I dreampt I ran the marathon a few days before, waking up exhausted in disbelief that I had to run the race AGAIN. The morning of, I didn’t really care. I was almost late. We went through the first 6 miles in 6:30/mi as planned and then I started feeling nauseous. At the half (1:26) I met a friend and doubled over, telling him I was having a bad day. At mile 14 I tried to take things into my own hands and induce vomiting. I dry heaved. It was a bad day. I couldn’t run more than a quarter mile without stopping to walk. At 18 the 3:10 pacer passed me and at mile 19 I stepped off the course. I was hypothermic within 10 minutes and ended up sitting at a med tent for 3 hours. We couldn’t get the van across the course to drop people off at the finish. I took a few weeks off running afterwards. Within a month I was talked into running the Long Beach Marathon. I don’t know how. I ran the first half strongly but didn’t take in enough fluids because I feared the nausea. At 14 I knew I was dehydrated and it wasn’t going to be pretty. If I took two cups of water, I got side cramps. If I took one, it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t breathe. That’s what happens when you get dehydrated and your blood volume decreases. I went through mile 18 in 2:00. It was a LOT of walking from there on out. But I qualified in 3:05. I’ve never been so happy to finish a race and finally attain my goal. This is how I viewed the marathon before Boston. I’d never had a good one, I’d always crashed into the wall like Tom trying to chase Jerry into his mouse hole.
I trained my butt off for Boston. I upped my mileage in a major way. I peaked at 85 miles, usually running 75 a week. I did speed work, tempos, medium long runs. I was IN shape. But I decided I wanted to run conservatively so I could thoroughly enjoy the race and not hate it like I had the others. I planned a 2:55, 6:40 pace (I had attempted the last 2 at 2:50). The night before I met up with a bunch of the California RWOL Forum runners for the pasta feast. It couldn’t have been better. I spotted them in the morning under the big tent and wasn’t worried about nerves. I ran the race perfectly. All of my 5k splits were just under 21 minutes. I was like a metronome. I high fived little kids, police officers and drank the whole scene in. When I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill and felt fine, I smiled really big and reveled in how much fun the race was. I got a water bottle from a bystander at mile 23 and that ensured dehydration wasn’t a problem. On mile 26 I looked down at my watch and realized the lack of tangents meant I needed to move my butt to get 2:55. I crossed the finish line in 2:55:59, as happy as I’ve ever been. (Until I got to the hotel room and was told my official time was 2:56:00, doh!!) I didn’t hit the wall until I finished and I was taken care of by a ridiculously cute Massachusetts paramedic. The volunteers in that race are amazing. It’s the best organized race I’ve ever seen.
The funny thing about Boston is that it was a personal goal. I was happy to get there, but everyone I know made a huge deal about it. My co-workers followed my splits live. My Grandpa bragged to all of his partners about how fast I ran. I had a heros welcome home afterwards. Now I’m introduced as the “really fast friend who ran Boston last year” by most of my running friends. It’s flattering and I don’t really know how to react to it. I mean.. it was a big deal to me, but I didn’t expect anyone else to really care.
Now that the bar has been raised for Boston, I almost want to run it again. It was so much fun the first time. The city treats runners like VIPs that week. But do I really want to run another marathon again? I’ve said that I’m not running another one unless I can do it really fast. I mean 2:30s fast. Otherwise I’m content to run 5k-Half and not hit the wall. We’ll see. Talk to me again in 6 months when I’ve hit my short race goals and am thirsty for the next challenge.