For the last year that has been my quiet obsession.
Any male marathoner under the age of 35 knows that time or any marathoner for that matter knows their time.
To consider myself a Boston Qualified runner would probably be a false statement. My running career mainly began as a way to lose weight heading into my senior year of college. Like any good male college student I lived on diet of beer and 3:00 AM pizza for about 3 years and it was starting to show. Around that same time, Lindsey and I began dating and she was a “real” runner so she convinced me to run my first race in September of 2006, The Hoosiers Outrun Cancer 5K in Bloomington. I’ll never forget this but with about .3 miles to go I decided it was too hard and needed to walk a little…man what a difference 5 years of work can make. I stumbled to finish line in about 24 minutes or so and have been running ever since. First the 5K, then give a half a shot and why not a marathon while we are at it. Flash forward five years and I am staring at something I never thought possible…am I fast enough to run a 3:10:59?!?!?!
For the last year, ever since I finished the Green Bay Marathon in May 2010 in 3:19 a month after running 3:24 in St. Louis, the time of 3:10:59 was my driving force. It was constantly there pushing me, driving me to push that tempo run, shave 5 seconds off that 3rd mile repeat, go out in 5 degree weather with six inches of snow to get my miles. It gave me focus, purpose and something to run towards.
Now as I toed the line, literally toed the start line in Piney Point because it was me and about 149 other people running in rural Maryland, 26.2 miles at a pace of 7:17 or greater was all that stood between me and a marathon runner’s ultimate goal, being fast enough to qualify for Boston. I was ready for the race. I had put my work in over the long hard, icy Indianapolis winter. I was confident that I could hit my time…it was now only a matter of doing it.
The first half of the race was rather uneventful in my opinion. I had trained to hit a time around 3:07 and some change so I went out feeling good in 6:50-7:00 miles for first half. I was at 1:31 half way. This was a situation that I had found myself in before…so that slight doubt crept in. Can I hold my pace to hit the time? I quickly killed the doubt because I think the thing that was different now then in the past was that I am a better runner at this point. Previously a 1:31 half would have killed me on the second half but not today. My work had been put in on the front end I knew I could hit it.
Miles 13-17 went by uneventful just like the first half and then the course started to roll. The map on website described 17-24 as “Batman’s Mask” and it most certainly lived up to that. Up and down for seven miles after the half way point was not fun. The hills were never too steep but just long enough to let you know they are there. At this point in the race after the hills, I am just cruising along probably around 7:15 or 7:20 per mile comfortable in the fact after doing the math compulsively for half the race that I would BQ and then I turned the corner for the finish line and saw the clock!
For some back story, the Boston Athletic Association announced in February that they were going to change the qualifying process for the 2012 race and then change the standards for 2013. This was in light of the fact that the 2011 race filled in about seven hours!! When Lindsey ran Boston in 2009, I signed her up after the first of the year…so things had changed greatly in two years. The BAA had decided for 2012 to allow the fastest people, adjusted for their qualifying needs, to have the most time to register.
So what this meant for me in Piney Point as I turned the corner and saw the official race clock was that I had about 70 seconds to run 400 meters to the finish and hit that final wave of early registrants. If not, I would be relegated to the second week of registering where who knows what would happen?!?!?! I quickly did the math and put the hammer down as much as anyone can after 26.1 miles and hit the tape in what I thought was 3:05:00 on the nose. But I wasn’t sure because as I stated before this was the smallest marathon that we have ran and there were no timing chips so my official time was dependent on that race official that clocked me as I crossed the line. After gathering myself and drinking some water I hoppled over and asked “what you get me at” and the race official replied “3:05:00”. I made it, literally with no time to spare! My goal going into the Piney Point was to qualify but to be able to qualify with that little extra cushion was even sweeter!!
Now as I sit back and reflect post race I am kind of left with an empty now what sort of feeling. What do I do now? I’m not quite sure. I don’t have the biggest desire to race another marathon anytime soon unlike last summer…maybe I’ll race a half or focus on biking. One thing I know for sure is that you will see Lindsey and I lining up in Hopkington, MA on Patriots’ 2012 to enjoy the party!
2:59:59….maybe that is the new goal but who knows when…I am going to enjoy the 3:05:00 for a while.