MY FIRST BOSTON MARATHON

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This will be my first Boston, and my eighth marathon overall. I have a pretty extensive background in high school, college, and post school running at all distances. However, I’m definitely more naturally bent toward the lifestyle and style of marathon running. I’ve always been able to just hold a pace and click it out to the second whether it’s in a 5k race (where it’s not so good to have this skill) or a 20-miler (where it’s great to have this skill). I enjoy marathon workouts, like very long repeats (2 x 5 miles at Marathon Pace minus maybe 10 seconds, 12 mile MP runs, 3 x 3 miles at half marathon pace), and I loathe, say, 400 meter repeats. So focusing and marathons and half marathons always worked best.

I qualified at the 2014 Philadelphia marathon, my sixth marathon. For men in my age group the Boston qualifier time is under 3:05. It’s been a gradual process working my way down from my first marathon finishing time of 3:29, also being in Philadelphia, to that sixth BQ one in Philly where I ran 3:00:08. Ugh. So close to the sub-3. My goal has been to break 3 hours for some time. Last year I ran Vermont in 3:05 and Mohawk Hudson in 3:02.

This time I’m feeling great. I’ve fixed basically everything I think I’ve done wrong in the past. For example, I’d often race too much or too close leaving the best race out there 3 weeks out (this past fall where I had a big 1:24 half marathon PR), or not doing enough long runs (1 or 2 18-milers, the last two races) and feeling it come the 21-mile mark.

The key this time was to increase the average mileage from 50-55 a week to 60-70 a week. I made sure to get in 5 18- to 20-milers. Almost all at a good effort maybe 30 secs slower than the goal MP. One long run was used as an MP run in a 30K race. I made sure to do this at the end my peak week while feeling terrible and tired. If I could hit an MP effort for 18.6 4 weeks out while really tired, it should be cake later.

I also used a few local races like a 15K and 20K advertised as Boston buildups in Connecticut to experiment with pacing (first half at MP, second half all out) on very nasty nasty rolling hills. The race series bills itself as Boston prep and accordingly has big downhill starts, big big uphills in the middle, and big downhills at the end. This is important because to not come into Boston knowing what race pace is on downhills would be a mistake. I also simulated this with downhill repeats at MP just as commonly as uphills. I really felt it was more important to get long runs and on rolling hills. I live in a great hill area where it’s not uncommon for my 20-miler to have 1200 ft of elevation gain.

This buildup was not without faults and troubles.

I think I swore off marathons 30 times during this marked increase in effort, pace, and time. I also got hurt a handful of times. Notably I was out with extensor tendonitis for a week and pushed through it a week or so longer. Luckily it wasn’t a stress fracture and time off and starting to use compression socks made a big difference. I also started seeing a massage therapist friend, who herself is a 2:50 marathoner, so she knows her stuff! In fact, I am going back for a general tuneup the Friday before Boston.

I really didn’t think I’d make it to the line as I was out injured with seven and six weeks to go. Part of what I learned this time is that I really can’t expect to do two hard workouts and a hard long run in the same week. The tendonitis came a week after ten days packed with a 20K race, 8 miles at MP over hills, 12 x 800 meter up and down hill repeats, and an easy 20 miles. Live and learn. I believe more in one really long and hard workout around half to MP pace totaling about 15 miles, one long run of 14 to 22 miles, and the rest lots of easy miles around MP plus 60 to 90 secs. I run along a lot because I don’t trust myself to not get competitive on those easier days. Although, I like to meet with some friends maybe once a week.

I will somewhat live up to my promise of taking some marathon time off after this. In the fall I will not run a marathon for the first season in the last 3 years because I am going to focus on doing the 9 plus 1 for the 2017 NYC Marathon qualification. I’ve also never done that. I am also getting married in October so that’s first and foremost. In the spring I MIGHT be coaxed back to Boston again. That is IF my BQ minus 2:17 is enough to get me in!