Sunday, September 24, 2017

Boston Marathon Acceptance + Training Update

Last Sunday I received my official Boston Marathon acceptance for 2018! I registered on Wednesday the 13th, and when I hadn't heard anything by Friday, I started to get antsy. I wasn't worried about being rejected with my 18-minute qualifying buffer, but the fact that other Wednesday registrants had received confirmations and I had not was unsettling. Needless to say, when the email confirmation finally arrived on Sunday evening, I was elated.

For those of you unaware of how the Boston Marathon registration process works, runners who qualified by 20 minutes or more were able to register on Monday the 11th, by 10 minutes or more (my group) on Wednesday the 13th, and by 5 minutes or more on Friday the 15th. They then reopened registration on Monday the 18th for those who qualified by less than 5 minutes, and those runners will not receive confirmation until next week, once they determine how much the "cutoff" will be. Many of those runners will be rejected because their qualifying buffer wasn't large enough, so they are eagerly waiting the news that will come next week. My prediction: 2 minutes and 14 seconds. Not based on anything scientific, just my gut!

I wonder why they don't handle registration similar to college admittance-- you can apply at any time, giving the admissions office time to review applications at their leisure, but then have an application deadline and send out notifications after the deadline. Of course it wouldn't work exactly the same way, but something like this:

Registration is open for an entire year. Hopefuls would be able to register at their leisure (instead of a two-day window which could easily be missed) and the B.A.A. would be able to verify their qualifying times as they were submitted. Verify--not accept.  Registration would close in September, and at that point the B.A.A. would have all the data that they needed, fully verified, to calculate a cut-off. They would not be scrambling to verify thousands of qualifying times in less than a week's time. They would know exactly how many people qualified in each age/gender group, and by what margins.

The B.A.A. could make the announcement about the cutoff time the day after registration closed, and notify all registrants at the same time of their acceptance or rejection.

I think this approach would save time, frustration, and anxiety for both runners and for the B.A.A. without altering the acceptance criteria. Also, qualifiers wouldn't have to worry about missing the two-day period; they would potentially have months to register. But who knows-- maybe the B.A.A. likes all the hype that happens in mid-September!

Onto my training update!

Monday: 8.6 miles at 8:45 avg.
This was a warm and humid run, which set the tone for the entire week: unseasonably warm and humid. It was such a tease to have nice cool mornings in the low 50's in early September.

Tuesday: 5 x 2000m with 3-minute recoveries
This is a tough workout. 5 x 2000m is 10,000m: aka a 10K on the track! It was 66 degrees with 95% humidity. I went into the run expecting it to be pretty brutal. It ended up not being all that bad, though. My splits were 8:29 (6:48 pace), 8:25 (6:45 pace), 8:22 (6:43 pace), 8:22 (6:45 pace), 8:22 (6:45 pace). I was pleased with how this workout felt, given how humid it was. When I added up the time of the intervals it was only 10 seconds slower than my 10K PR pace, which was set in ideal weather conditions. I hope this means I am making good progress. This workout was much more of a mental challenge than a physical one. 5 laps at a time is hard! Including warm up and cool down, I logged a total of 11 miles.

Wednesday: 6.9 miles at 8:48 avg.
I took this one nice and easy to ensure recovery from the monster track workout.

Thursday: 10.5 miles at 8:37 avg.
This run was all about cranking out the mileage. Typically I have another hard workout on Thursdays, but I assume my coach gave me an easy run so that I wouldn't be completely exhausted for the marathon pace run on Saturday.

Friday: 8.1 miles at 8:39 avg.
Another easy run in unseasonably warm/humid conditions.

Saturday: 16.7 miles with 12 at marathon pace of 7:27
I went into this workout with one strike against me because I didn't sleep well the night before. In fact, I only got 4 hours of sleep, and I don't think it was deep sleep. Admittedly, I had some anxiety
about this workout. How would marathon pace feel? Since the majority of my workouts this cycle have been in warm weather, it's difficult to know if I am any fitter than I was for my Myrtle Beach training cycle. My times for the workouts are almost identical, if not slower. But I don't have a tuneup race or a workout that has made me think "wow- I've made a jump in fitness." Rather, the theme has been trusting the process, cranking out the workouts as prescribed, and hoping that my 7:27 goal marathon pace is realistic without any evidence.

I ran 2.6 miles at my easy pace and then started the marathon pace miles. I was prescribed 90 minutes at marathon pace. I paced it as I plan to pace it on race day by starting out slower than goal pace and finishing faster. My splits were 7:39, 7:37, 7:27, 7:28, 7:21, 7:24, 7:23, 7:22, 7:24, 7:20, 7:18, 7:30. I ran 12.09 miles in 90 minutes-- an average pace of 7:27. Weather wise, it was about 60 degrees at the start of these miles, and 65 by the end, with sunny skies.

The first 11 miles felt amazing. They weren't easy but I felt strong and in control. But once I hit the final mile, things started to go downhill, and quickly! All of a sudden I felt completely gassed and I was no longer able to maintain the 7:20's. It felt like race effort just to run that final mile in 7:30. I kept bargaining with myself because I so badly wanted to end the workout five minutes early. When it was done, I had to walk for awhile before I could begin the final cool down miles. And during the cool down, I was cramping pretty badly in my abdomen. I had to stop every half mile because the stomach cramping was so bad.

I'd like to think that in cooler weather, I would have been able to hold it together better during the last mile, and I wouldn't have had the cramping issues during the cool down. I'm at my best when it's 35 degrees. My coach told me that this was exactly what the workout should feel like at this point in the training cycle. He said that I should have been on "my hands and knees" at the end, as this workout was designed to drain the tank. And that it did. So while I was initially discouraged about having a goal marathon pace of 7:27, I'm a bit more optimistic now.

I did complete 90 minutes at a pace of 7:27 in the middle of a high-mileage week, on only 4 hours of sleep. So that's good! The weather just needs to be cooler so I can see what I can do when my body doesn't have the additional strain of the heat.

Sunday: 3.6 miles at 8:56 avg.
I was even more encouraged by how quickly I seemed to recover from the marathon pace run. This morning I didn't feel any lingering soreness! In fact, my legs felt a little peppy! I do think my legs are capable of a 7:27 marathon pace, I just need to get my aerobic system there.

Total mileage for the week: 65.5
I'm pleased with how the week went. My Achilles tendons have been doing pretty good, too. I did my exercises every day this week, and the marathon pace run didn't seem to aggravate them. This is my 5th consecutive week at 60+ miles, and even though there hasn't been that *one* workout that makes me think I've gotten fitter this cycle, I know that I have been following my training plan to the letter and feeling good doing it.


  1. Great week for you in spite of the heat. I'm just so amazed at your discipline and how well you are able to stick to your planned paces.

  2. Great week despite the hot temps and way to nail the MP run, especially with so many of the miles at MP (I mean, almost 75% of the run was MP which is a big percentage). I can imagine the mental strength it takes to run 2K repeats on a track too... I have never done anything longer than mile repeats and that is hard enough. It was also crazy hot here as well.

    I don't have a dog in the fight with Boston (hello... gotta BQ... gotta run a marathon to BQ), but I think the application window seems really short. The fastest runners get like two days to apply? What if someone is especially busy at work, or travelling, or busy living life and can't apply during those two days? At least they aren't trying to do a lottery or opening registration for everyone all at once to where the page breaks, I guess!

  3. I'm running Boston #10 going for streaker status!

  4. Amazing week!!!! I have to admit, I LOVE the Sept hype about Boston every year so I hope they don't change it!

  5. Congrats on your acceptance to Boston and going back again! Geez....I took note of your reference to "antsy" in terms of delay of acceptance with 18-min buffer. I have friend with 20+ min buffer, took 9-days from registering on 1st day of week 1 to get his official acceptance. I suspect the delay is that someone has to verify those QT's people report, and though if you ran QT in Boston....easy thing for them to verify....but with other races...who knows what they have to go through to confirm applicant's QT.

    I am "yantsy" cause I had to wait until the opening day 1 of Week I sorta running by feel and leisure and messing around at times, so I finished in 3:50:02....which for my -4:58-sec below qualifying standard. I have some angst in the wait as I have run 9-straight Bostons since 2009 and like RW commenting above....would be going for #10 and "streaker-status." Nothing to gloat about and certainly doesn't make me a runner with the "caliber" you have and whole lot other runners have attained...but it was a goal I wanted to fulfill and means a lot to me personally.

    Soooo....assuming your prediction is correct....I should eventually be in for 2019, but definitely going to be seeded way in the back! Since I am a loyal follower of your blog after discovering your book and reading it...some parts several times...I hope you make it a point for you and Greg to find me out there and just say high. I know that course well...since I have spent every year out there 1-week before the race and done a lot of running, jogging, walking if you want tips....I can give them to you...and every year I go out there....I have my binder with the pages of Google Earth aerial photography of the 1-mile segments of the course and many excerpts of my field notes.

    I am not a better runner than you, but I have earned my right to run there relative to my age. I know you are at physical and mental states of conditioning far beyond where I be these days. But we are kindred spirits...brothers and pursuit of chasing the case of be a unicorn. So assuming I get for me out there...I stand apart from the will easily recognize me out there with the long-ponytail and whitish hair...and the tatoos too!

    Congrats again on you going back again! It is what I expect of you will always do...and probably even someday...become a "streaker" like Richard White cites above. Regarding blogging on your training this past week...everything I see says you very well-conditioned to run your marathon game come Indy. Don't overdue it or even over-analyze me...the numbers I see you post...say you going to run really well. Your official coach is the ultimate source, but I have to suspect...he should like the stats you posting. Personally....I think you can ease back a bit...but I don't think you have that capacity and appears zebras go all out and push it...much of the time. Hope you see that as a are greater and far more than your Boston Bound book portrays! Keep it up!

  6. Interesting thoughts about Boston registration. Isn't that how it used to be, sort of? Registration opened in September, but you could register all the way up to the deadline in April. But I was talking to an RD I know, and he said he favors the once-a-year registration. It gives the race a time limit for verifying their own results, and then they have a known window in which to respond. It something small races can plan on, rather than handling requests that trickle in all year long. Personally, I think it may be time to tighten the standards a tad again. If you're routinely unable to accept people with qualifying times, perhaps move the standards by a minute or three? Just to make it a little more clear-cut.