Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Road to Boston Passes Through Hartford

Hartford, CT, that is. In order to run the prestigious Boston Marathon, I must first qualify, and I plan on doing that at the Hartford Marathon on Saturday, October 11, 2008. I need to run the race in 3:40:59 or faster.

Why do I think I can qualify?
This will be my 8th marathon, but my first attempt to qualify for Boston. I'll need to shave 11 minutes off of the time I ran last March-- the 3:51:49. Looking back on my training log leading up to this race, there was only six weeks of consistent training. I was injured for the second half of December and the first part of January. I only trained from late January to early March, and then I tapered. If I extend that out to an 18-week training program, I think I will see a faster result. Additionally, my weekly mileage (a large factor in marathon performance) was about 40-45 when training for Shamrock. The program I plan to undertake has me running an average of 45-55 miles per week.

Why Hartford of all places?
At first, I thought I would use the Steamtown marathon to qualify. It has a net decrease in elevation, and most of the race is downhill. But then I thought twice about that. I would have to do a lot of downhill training, and there isn't really proper terrain for that around here. Additionally, all of my marathons have been flat or slightly hilly. I know what I am getting into with a flat course, so I figured I should veer away from Steamtown and find something flat.

My next thought was going to Chicago. About as flat as they come! I earned myself a position in one of the faster starting corrals, so I wouldn't have to worry about weaving through people in the first few miles. Plus, I was supposed to run that last year but I ended up dropping out due to injury. But then I realized that Chicago would be somewhat of a "production" with the travel, getting to the start line, etc. And I wanted something a bit lower key.

So, I did my research and I discovered Hartford. It's a quick flight (which I assumed would be inexpensive, but it's not) and I was able to get a hotel right next to the start/finish area. It's a small enough for there not to be crowding on the course, but large enough to have crowd support (about 1500 runners). It's flat, and has a great reputation. I convinced my friend Jenna to run this one with me, and we are hoping that our friend Randi will join us as well. Also, the race is on a Saturday, which I prefer to a Sunday race. Hartford in October should be ideal race weather (upper 40's - lower 50's in the morning), but I guess you can never be sure!

What are the possible roadblocks?
Injury. My knee is about 99% recovered (I ran 8 pain-free miles yesterday). In order to stay injury free, I plan on monitoring my resting heart rate in the morning when I wake up. I will continue with my core strengthening routine, as well as lower-body strengthening. Most importantly, I will listen to my body for signals that I am doing too much. If I don't get injured, I am fairly confident I will qualify.

What about a training philosophy?
I'm approaching this marathon very differently from those in the past. In the past, I was very goal-focused, and now I plan to focus more heavily on the training, itself, as its own reward. I am only doing two races between now and the marathon (one of them is next weekend) so I won't have that kind of "high". Instead, I am highly enthusiastic about my training, acknowledging the benefits of training-- not just the "reward" of getting a good time. I'll probably blog more about my training than I have in the past-- simply because training will take the place of all the races I used to run. And I need support from you all! Anything can happen on race day, so if I focus all my energy on that particular day, I could be really let down (bad weather, illness, injury, etc.) So I need to stay focused on the benefits I am getting from simply training.

Track my Training!
If you go to the right hand colum on the page, there is a link to view my training log. You can click on that and get an up-to-date view of what I've been doing. Right now, all you will see is someone who's been gradually ramping up miles with short/easy runs, accompanied by a great deal of cross training. A month from now, this will be a bit more exciting!

The program starts tomorrow. I'm standing at the unofficial start line of my BQ journey. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I dream you'll make Boston, oh wait, you've done this already... Why? Because you're awesome and have worked so hard and have achieved great things thru running!! So proud of you Elizabeth!!