Boston Marathon Qualification at 24 Hours Around the Lake Marathon!
I am proud. I am ecstatic. I am in disbelief. I am relieved. I am a Boston Marathon Qualifier. Finally.
Qualifying for the Boston Marathon has been a dream of mine since I really became hooked on running. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is on most runners list of goals. And now I can say that I am officially going to run the Boston Marathon.
I ran my first marathon in 2004 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, CA. Completing a marathon was my first major running goal. I trained for this marathon with the Virtual Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Since I live in the middle of nowhere, I trained for this marathon with the help of an online coach and did all of the training runs on my own. My goal for this marathon was to finish which I did in a time of 4:21.52. My pace was 9:59 minutes per mile. Running my first marathon got me hooked and was the start of my dream to get faster and to qualify for Boston even though in the days after the race I was hobbling around like a little old lady doing the post marathon limp.
This weekend I faced my goal of qualifying for Boston again head on. This was my 6th marathon. After running the Vermont City Marathon in May I was so close I could taste qualifying. My finish time at the VT City Marathon was 3:45.29. I had trained for this race as though I was studying for a degree. I followed my training plan to the letter. I think I only missed one work out. I trained my a$$ off. However when race day came, I was unfocused, I was negative. I let other things get in the way of my race day performance. I ran like a novice and did what we used to call in running, “Fly and DIE!” I ran way faster than I should have at the beginning feeling amazing on my rested, fresh legs from my taper and allowed myself to be pushed along by the cheers of the crowd. I did not run MY race, and so in the heat and wrapped up in the excitement I hit the WALL and ended up essentially willing myself to the finish line through the most horrific leg cramps, stomach cramps, and horrible negative attitude. It was NOT the race finish that I had wanted!
After the VT City Marathon I did a lot of soul searching, and thinking about the race and what went wrong. I decided to sign up for another marathon but to approach the race and training in a completely different way. My first goal was to train but to not really tell to many people about my training to take the pressure off. I am often too competitive with myself and so did not want any added pressure.
I also needed to find a way to get back to racing hard and having fun. Leading up to the race I ran some trail races, some mountain races and spent a lot of time running on the trails with my friends. I followed my training plan for my Sustainable Athlete Coach Denise Goode but also listened to my body carefully and rested as needed. I also spent time revisiting my fueling and hydrating plans as I had severe dehydration issues at the VT City Marathon and did not eat enough either.
The Marathon that I picked was 24 Hours Around the Lake . The race format is a totally different than a traditional marathon. The marathon starts at 7 p.m. and in order to complete 26.2 miles you need to run around Quannapowitt in Wakefield, MA 8 TIMES (plus a little extra)!!!Yes, you heard me correctly . . . 8 laps around the lake. To many people this might sound like a terrible idea but for me this race turned out to be absolutely perfect!
I spent a quiet morning by myself on race day and ate plenty to load up for the night marathon. I had two Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs (Fried) for breakfast with 2 large slices of whole wheat toast and a banana. Mid-morning I ate some pretzels and a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese. For lunch had a giant bowl of pasta with broccoli and grilled chicken and some bread. Mid-afternoon I had a bagel with peanut butter and another banana. I also consumed a ton of water and Gatorade during the day to keep myself hydrated without floating away (if you know what I mean).
I arrived at the race early in order to scope out the course and find my focus. When the race began you could feel a quiet energy from the runners. The weather was humid but cooled off to around 70 degrees once the sun started to set. There was a light breeze at times too which was needed especially during laps three and four when these ridiculously large clouds of bugs encircled the lake (cough, cough . . . try not to inhale!).
I settled in to a comfortable race pace right from the start not wanting to deviate from my plan. I worked hard to stay disciplined and to not get caught up in the initial excitement and adrenaline.
During my previous marathon I did not exercise self-discipline, instead I let adrenaline take control and I hit the wall. This time I would not let that happen. I controlled my pace only picking it up at the half way point slightly when I knew I still had the energy to go further. I focused on the energy from the environment around me, coming from the other runners, through their foot-strikes and breathing, from the sounds the music coming from the summer bandstand. My favorite part of this marathon was the evening start. There is something about running at dusk and dark that brings a different level of intensity and focus to a run. If you have never tried running at night I would highly recommend it!with
Amazingly I was able to stay positive for the entire marathon and broke the race down into manageable pieces. Once I got to the halfway point I focused less on my splits and more on my body, feeling good, and trying to “enjoy” the race. I actually loved the format of going around the lake 8 times because it gave me one less thing to worry about. Once I had completed the first loop I knew the course and did not have to anticipate what might lie ahead. During this marathon I totally felt in the zone!
With 2 laps to go I new I had a 10K left to race. Since the 10K is one of my strongest distances I knew I could go for it and push my way to the finish line quickly. My last lap I allowed my adrenaline to kick in and ran the last mile at a 7:58 pace! When I arrived at the finished I was shocked to see my time!
A new PR by 12 minutes!!! 8:09 pace!
A Boston Qualifying Time!!!!
Mission accomplished. This race was amazing and just what I needed to achieve my Boston Marathon goal time and then some!
I am still somewhat in disbelief but also proud of myself for believing in myself and for allowing my body to do the job that it had been trained to do. Now, I only hope that I can get in to Boston . . . I’ll keep you posted.
Congratulations to everyone who competed in this race and finished either the marathon, 12 Hour Ultra, 24 Hour Ultra, or Team Relay!