Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Find out how a slow-footed, ordinary guy with five children can qualify for the Boston Marathon.
The how-to part is quite simple. The Boston Marathon organizers establish qualifying times and qualifying marathons in order to participate in their marathon. If one’s marathon time is at or below the qualifying time and if one’s qualifying time occurs at one of Boston’s qualifying marathons, and if you get your registration in before the deadline, you’re in. Quite simple.
Not that easy.
The fastest 5-k time I’ve ever run is 24:37. I did it yesterday (November 14, 2011). That’s an average pace of 7:56.45 minutes per mile. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with myself. Five kilometers, or 3.1 miles, however, is much shorter than a marathon. It would have been impossible for me to keep up the sub-8:00 mile pace for over 26 miles.
But let’s pretend I could. Let’s pretend that I can run a marathon at slightly slower than my 5-k pace. We’ll make the math simple and round my pace time up to 8:00. A marathon run at an 8-minute per mile pace would require just under 3:30 to complete, an accomplishment certainly worth celebrating. There’s one problem, though: The qualifying time for a 43-year old man is 3:15. That’s 15 minutes less than my impossible to maintain 5-k pace would allow. Damn!
That’s a sub 7:30/mile pace. For 26.2 miles. I’ve never even done that for 3.1 miles.
Oh, by the way, I’ve never actually run a marathon. Another minor detail I might need to address. So all that talk about marathoners hitting a wall and the necessity of training yourself to run long distances and the need to hydrate is…in my case, just talk. I have run a few half marathons, the last one back in 2007, and an Olympic distance triathlon in March of 2010 and 2011, but I’ve never run a marathon.
In short, in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I need to complete a race twice as long as the longest distance I’ve ever run at a pace I’ve never run at even 1/10 the distance. Simple.
Step 1: Sign up for a qualifying marathon.
This step was pretty easy. In fact, I’d already done it before I even hatched this crazy plan of qualifying for Boston, which happened before I thought of writing a blog about it. I’ll be running the Utah Valley Marathon on June 9, 2012, which according to marathon organizers is the fastest Boston qualifier in the spring. That’s not why I signed up for it. I signed up for it because it’s about a five-hour drive from my house. I have relatives who live nearby. I’m a school teacher. School gets out June 8. Do I know how to celebrate or what?
If I had thousands of dollars at my disposal, I could hire a psychologist to analyze why I decided to qualify for Boston. He or she would probably indicate the fastest spring marathon planted the idea in my mind and my mind just ran with it. In addition, the aforementioned hypothetical psychologist might suggest I’m crazy. After all, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve never run this distance. I’ve never run a fast enough pace at any distance.
I’m doing it anyways.
Today is November 14. The marathon is June 9. That gives me just under seven months to get in 3:15 marathon shape. Did I mention my five children? It takes a lot of time to care for five children. My wife would probably appreciate some assistance.
I can at least use the “I’m only doing Yasso 800s today, dear, because I’m writing a book to support our family” excuse.
This quest will not be the central focus of my life. My family will be. I’m not going to log 50 miles of running per week. I’m not going to go out and buy all the fanciest equipment. I’m not going to spend my weekends running in every event I can find. Heck, I’ve already forked over the $79 for the Utah Valley Marathon. That's enough.
I don’t have a coach either. Don’t need one.
I'm going with an unconventional training plan. More on that soon.