Saturday, January 24, 2009


After many sleepless nights and after giving it much thought, I finally have a "Plan B".

I figured that at the very least, I would set a PR in Arizona, because my training had been so much more intense than it was for my 3:51. So even if I didn't BQ, my PR would "tide me over" until the next marathon attempt. But now I feel like I am in the best shape of my life, with no marathon PR to confirm it.

My first thought was to run the Shamrock Marathon on March 22, where I set the PR last year. But then I realized that it was too soon to fit in a solid training cycle, but too far to simply rely on what I've built up over the past seven months.

So, after much research, I discovered a marathon just outside of Columbus Ohio on February 15: The "Last Chance For Boston" Marathon. Ironically, the Boston marathon is now full and registration is closed. But the original intent of this marathon was to give runners one "last chance" to qualify, if their fall marathon didn't go as they had planned.

Even if I had BQed in Arizona, I still would not have been able to run Boston 2009. I have a whole year to BQ, so I am not necessarily trying to do that on February 15. Really, all I want is to shave some time off of my PR and salvage some of the intense training I've been doing for the seven months leading up to Arizona.

The "Last Chance For Boston" Marathon will likely be very cold. February 15 in Ohio with an 8:00am start time should be in the upper 20's or lower 30's. But it could be much colder, and there is always the possibility of a snow storm or freezing rain. I've decided to drive to the race (actually, Brent is going to drive!) so if the weather is really unfavorable, I won't lose money on air fare. After that cold, windy 4-mile race on New Year's Eve, I am confident about running in the teen's, but single digits would probably be a deal-breaker for me. As would any kind of winter precipitation.

One more thing to note about the course. It's only one-mile long. I'll run this loop 26.2 times for a full marathon. The race is chip-timed, and every time you cross the timing mat, someone tells you how many miles you have completed. There are many advantages to this. First, the course has a 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 mile marker. This should make pacing a lot easier, considering I don't use a Garmin. Secondly, it's flat, so there are no hills to contend with. Finally, it makes it easy to layer up and throw away clothing, because you come to the same point each mile. I know that this will be "boring" and very mentally challenging, but since I am used to doing lon runs on the treadmill, I think I can easily handle to monotony of a 1-mile loop.

Thankfully, the marathon is run counter-clockwise, so faster runners can pass on the inside of the loop and run the tangent. During the the 4-mile race, which was run clockwise, I had to pass runners on the outer edge of the loop, lengthening my course.

February 15: Last Chance for Boston Marathon
March 22: Shamrock Half Marathon
April 5: Cherry Blossom 10-Miler
May 3: New Jersey Marathon

It's more races than is really ideal to train optimally for a marathon, but I really enjoy the Shamrock and the Cherry Blossom, so I am sacrificing an ideal training schedule to do some races that I really want to participate. And if I miss my BQ in New Jersey because of this, I can always try for it in the fall.


  1. Hi there! I saw some of your posts on RW forums. I'm sorry that you didnt get he race you deserved in Phoenix. Sounds like you have agood plan for the next one though! I was registered for that race too, didnt get to start because of ITBS :-( Saw my friend BQ though which was bitter-sweet! Hope you are recovered well and good luck with the next marathon!!! Sally

  2. Sally, sorry about the ITB issues. That must be so frustrating to register, train, and then be sidelined. Do you have another marathon scheduled within the next few months? I can understand about the bittersweet feeling!

  3. The next marathon I do will be during the Ironman in November. I am going to focus on that and maybe do a few shorter Tris this summer/fall. The ITBS doesnt seem to be going away as quick as other injuries I have had (and luckily there havent been many). Have you ever had IT issues?

  4. Who knows, maybe a different sort of build-up will do the trick! One thing about Last Chance: I've heard that the lap counting they provide is not always reliable. I'm planning on keeping an eye on the lap counter on my watch as a backup. I could see it getting confusing with marathoners, halfers, and 10Kers all coming through at varying speeds...don't think this is anything to stress over, but just fyi.

  5. Sally: Wow, an ironman. I have never had serious ITB issues, but I did have a tiny bit of pain at the insertion when I did a 20-miler in shoes that weren't supportive enough. The pain went away after a few days.

    Miranda: I plan on using my watch to track splits, I just worry about my hands going numb and not being able to press the button, or accidentally pressing it twice at the same time. I could keep decent track in my head, or by looking at total elapsed time. But at around mile 20, my brain starts to die, so I really can't be counting.

  6. I have heard of last chance for boston. Sounds kind of boring but if you're in the zone who cares about the scenery. And I bet that people kind of make their own entertainment (friends, family, etc). Best of luck!

  7. I too had a meltdown in Phoenix, dashing my hopes for a BQ. I was so pissed afterwards, I knew I had it in me, so I registered for Napa Valley on March 1st. Right after registering I was having second thoughts.. You know, too much too soon? But after reading your blog, I'm fired up again. Thank you.

  8. I can't wait for you and Mir to run this race!

    It can't be this cold for much longer.

  9. Vunix, well wait to read the Last Chance race report before you think that I am "right" about this! It could be too much too soon, but I feel like I just need to do it to salvage everything I have worked so hard for. I think March 1st is ideal. I couldn't find anything on that date that I could drive to, and I really need to be able to drive to it because I don't have much vacation time left from work.

  10. Congrats on finding your plan B. I was grateful for my second chance marathon 6 weeks later. I actually think the 1 lap race sounds intriguing. Just find your zone! Can't wait to hear the report.