So race weekend is nearly here after logging over 600 miles of running, strength training, stretching, and more, ready or not here I come Boston. Like a football coach having a game plan for the “Big Game”, runners need to have their personal game plan or strategy to assure success in their marathon.
Every marathoner shares at least two common goals for their marathon. The first is to simply get to the starting line healthy and ready to race their best. This is often much more difficult to attain than it sounds, for many runners fail to listen to their bodies during the grueling training period of 16 -20 weeks and thus experience an injury that at a minimum disrupts their training. The second goal is to simply finish the marathon! This too sounds so simple for anyone who has trained. However, the marathon is a very humbling experience. Over the course of 26 plus miles so many influences are challenging the runner that to simply complete any marathon is a sweet victory.
Then there are the various other goals. Typically runners have a specific finishing time they aim to achieve. Others may run to experience the thrill of it all and could care less about the finish time. For most runners participating in the Boston Marathon are running Boston as a result of attaining their previous goal, to qualify to run Boston! One does not simply enter the Boston Marathon, a runner needs to qualify in a previous marathon in order to become eligible to enter! The result is a field of 30,000 runners who represent the best marathon runners in their respective divisions.
My expectations for the Boston Marathon are rather basic and focused more on enjoying the overall experience while still running a very respectful race. Short of a last minute freak accident, I should toe the start line in a healthy condition. I also feel confident I can finish the 26 plus mile route. The big question is how long will it take me and how will I do it? What is my goal time to finish the Boston Marathon?
To answer those questions I needed to compare my experience at Boston 10 years ago to my race prep this year. In 2006 I had a 4:03 marathon time. Up to that point it was my slowest marathon finish time by 30 minutes! I was both disappointed and somewhat embarrassed. So my next goal for this year’s Boston is to finish in at least a sub 4 hour time. Again, I still feel confident about being able to run a sub 4 hour marathon, but the challenges of the Boston course will not make this an easy goal to reach.
Back in September when I gained entry to this year’s Boston Marathon I had the lofty goal train hard and aim for a 3:40 marathon time. A bit optimistic, but not out of the question. That is until somewhere the middle of this winter. I realized that real-life obligations also play an important role in one’s marathon training schedule. Back in the fall I had planned to run much more than my training in 2006. Actually, when I run my final, very slow paced, 4 mile run tomorrow morning, I will be 3 miles short of my 2006 training miles!
But, this does not mean I am doomed for a 4 hr plus marathon either. I also incorporated several new regimes into my training. Back in January I enrolled in a 7 week course with famed professional sports trainer Kirk Vickers of Triad Performance. Under Kirk’s tutelage I my core strength improved as did my running form and efficiency. I sacrificed training miles for training improvement.
Also different from 2006, was my early speed training with the Ann Arbor Track Club. From November through March each Tuesday night, various speed sessions at the University of Michigan’s indoor track was a great way to sharpen my running and conditioning while running with friends too.
Then there is the backbone of all my runs, my running buds with the Running Fit 501 training group out of Novi and Northville. I have been honored to help coach this group of people who enjoy running and running together. Our Wednesday night workouts continued to challenge us all especially during the dark winter Michigan nights. We also do our long runs each Saturday at Kensington Metro Park. This park is packed with Boston like hills so the long runs that incorporated challenging hills also. So simply stated, my training did not include mega miles it did include an overall better quality number of sessions. The results will not be known until some time mid-Monday.
As an obsessed runner who keeps detailed records of all my training for the past 30 years I know that I am also 10 pounds lighter going into this year’s marathon than my 2006 Boston run. Of course I am also 10 years older too and age does play a factor. I have experienced a slight slow down of my training runs this year.
So what started out as a goal finish time of 3:40 has been ratcheted down to a 3:50 mark. But in the end, if I simply finish and have a fun time doing so in the process then that will make all the work worth it. Regardless of my experience I will return to continue to RUN HAPPY 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and check back next week for the results!