I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I’ve mentioned this goal a few times but it has been on the back-burner as of late since the Ironman has been my number one priority. Now that the Ironman is over, I’ve had time to plan for my next goal – qualifying for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
How to Qualify for Boston
The Boston Marathon is a very popular race, so popular in fact that as of late, the already demanding qualifying standards have become more competitive. Effective September, 2011, qualifying times for each age group were reduced by 5 minutes. Therefore, as a woman in the 18-34 year old age group, I must run a 3:35:00 or faster marathon. Also, the 59 second window that was once allowed (i.e. if you qualifying time was 3:40:00 you could run up to 3:40:59) is no longer valid.
In addition to faster times, a new rolling admission process is in effect for registrations. The first day of registration allows all participants that qualified by over 20 minutes. The second day is open to all 10 minute or more qualifiers, the third for five-minute or more qualifiers and then finally registration will be open to those that qualified by less than five minutes. So even though I need to run 3:34:59 or faster, I may not even get a spot in the race.
Registration for the 2012 Boston marathon did not follow the new faster qualifying times but it did follow the rolling admission process. Luckily, the registration did open up for all qualifiers, no matter how many minutes they qualified by. I really hope that now that the qualifying times are even lower that everyone who qualifies will be able to register. Otherwise I’ll have to aim for at least a 3:29:59, which is 20 minutes faster than my current PR!
My Plan to Qualify
Last February I cut over 12 minutes off my marathon time and crossed the finish line at the Surf City Marathon in 3 hours 49 minutes and 26 seconds. Since we loved the race so much and assumed that 5 more months of Ironman training would only make us faster, Asia and I announced our intention to qualify for Boston at the 2013 Surf City Marathon. Unfortunately, Asia had a rough day at IM CdA and since she did not finish there, she is racing Ironman Cozumel. Knowing how I have slowly recovered from the Ironman, she realized that it’s not realistic for her to BQ 10 weeks post Ironman, especially with the holidays between. I, however, have already signed up for Surf City and I plan to still run it all by my lonesome.
My plan is to create a high mileage, yet high quality training plan for the Surf City Marathon and make my first attempt at a BQ there. I’ve been doing quite a bit more research (i.e. blog stalking) as of late and I’ve come to the realization that despite my previous significant advances in running speed (dropping 5 minutes off my half marathon time in less than 3 months in 2011 and dropping 12 minutes off my marathon time in 7 months last year) and my crazy endurance training over the last year (i.e. Ironman), a BQ is definitely not guaranteed. Based on my most recent race, a BQ seems pretty far out of reach actually. Although I know my AFC performance wasn’t a true reflection of my perfectly rested and trained self , it still was a far cry from the pace I need to maintain for double that distance in order to qualify for Boston.
So, attempt #1 will be Surf City. I plan to register for at least 1-2 more marathons in the Spring. Which marathons will depend on which one Asia wants to do, since I told her that I would run one with her since she will miss Surf City. I have a feeling the 3rd race may be the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon. I kind of want to run this race even if I’ve already BQed, even if it’s just for fun. It might be fun to dress up and run it!
I’ve also come to the realization that I may not qualify for Boston at all before the 2014 race deadline (September of 2013). I’ve stalked many a blog of good runners who took several attempts to qualify. So far in my short racing career I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to having good race days (I guess with the exception of the recent hot and humid AFC). I’ve never had a nutritional disaster or a “bad day.” I tend to run my races at a steady pace for nearly the whole time. But I’m probably due for a bad day at some point so I’m also acknowledging that something out of my control could set me back from my goal as well.
The thing that I can control is my training. I haven’t finalized my training plan, but I do know that it will include tempo, hill and interval workouts (most likely Yasso 800s since they worked so well for me at Surf City last year) and several runs at “race pace” as well as at least three runs over 20 miles. I want to also make sure that I run my easy/recovery runs EASY so that I have the energy for my hard sessions. Training will officially begin after my one week recovery from the Long Beach Half Marathon which is October 7. I plan to also incorporate 1 Dailey Method workout a week as well as 1 yoga session per week. As of now, I don’t plan to bike or swim at all. Triathlon can wait.
In the meantime, I will still be running as I train for Long Beach. However, right now I am also focusing on strength training. I bought a 1 month Dailey Method membership and I will be attending class 3x/week. I am also doing some cycling and swimming in preparation for the San Diego Classic Sprint Triathlon on September 8. My performance at Long Beach will definitely give me a good indication of my potential for a BQ in early 2013. I won’t have the excuse of being in Ironman recovery mode any more and if I don’t go sub 1:50 I will know I have more work to do to achieve BC than I originally thought.
It’s going to be a long road but I know if I set my mind to it, this BQ will be mine!
What do you think of the new Boston qualifying times and registration process? Do you have any desire to ever qualify? If you have already qualified, what training plan did you use?