Friday, May 8, 2009

The Holy Grail

Depending on what you're into, the holy grail could be a number of things. In marathon running, it really only means one thing - Boston. For those of you who aren't marathoners, I am speaking of the Boston Marathon. Runners have a tendency to refer to marathons (especially the larger ones) simply as Boston or Chicago or New York.

Anyway, many runners have the goal of running the Boston Marathon. The thing that separates Boston from virtually every other marathon is that you have to qualify. The younger you are, the faster you need to run to BQ (Boston Qualify). It has always been a long term goal of mine as I seemingly shaved off 6-8 minutes most every year of my marathoning. The reason why it was always a long term goal is that I'd need to run a 3:10:59 or better while I am still under the age of 34.

Things have gone kind of stagnant for me in terms of improving my marathoning times for the last couple of years. I ran an 3:30 in Chicago in 2006. 2007 was a lost year due to a poor training session and the 90+ degree heat in Chicago that day. Last year, I was able to put up a 3:29 in 80+ degree heat while working through a strained calf muscle. I think I was in better shape than a 3:29 and could have put up a time in the low 3:20s. I realize I didn't, but I know what I know.

So how does one go from a PR of 3:29 and get down to 3:10 in 12 months? Here's the plan:

1) Train my ass off. Run 6 days per week (up from 4) and peak at 70 miles in a week (up from 54 last year).

2) I have been running consistently in a non-training season for the first time ever. My past training sessions have included about 2 weeks of 20-25 miles before training starts. I'd basically run myself into shape the first 8-10 weeks and be fried by the time I'd hit week 12. I ran about 150 miles in each of the last two months and should go over 200 in May.

3) Get down to about 165 pounds. I think I was in the low 170s last year when the marathon rolled around. This can only help. I'll start doing some core work, strengthening exercies and will possibly bike to work once or twice a week.

3) I have mentioned it before, but actually follow a training plan that has me running 6 days per week instead of the four I have done in the past. I am "practicing" running six days per week as often as possible right now.

4) Run more races. I have already done an 8K and 5K this year. I ran the Ravenswood 5K Run in 19:09 about two weeks ago. I'd like to go sub 19 for the 5K, sub 40 for the 10K and then:

5) Run a half marathon 3-4 weeks away from the marathon to see where training my ass of gets me. If I can put up a time around 1:30, it's on. If I end up with a time closer to 1:35, I won't delude myself into thinking that will translate into a 3:10 across 26.2 miles. Strategy-wise, I'll have to be able to put up something like a 1:34/1:36 or 1:33/1:37 split to hit 3:10. Jesus, that's fast.

McMillan says you need to run a 1:30:05 half to hit a 3:10 on the dot. Running guru Jim2 says averaging 60mpw (which is where I'll be around in training) and running a 40 minute 10K will net you somewhere between a 3:10 and a 3:14.

So, consider this the gauntlet. I am going for it. I'll need to have a great training cycle, cooperative weather and good health if this pipe dream is to become reality. Wish me luck.

Here are a few pics from the race a couple weekends ago. They were probably taken in the last tenth of a mile. It was my first 5K and was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the distance and liked not having to worry about the 5th, 10th, 20th or 26th mile. My time was 1 19:09, a 6:10 pace.

1 comment:

Ruby said...

You are something else Paul. I am in awe of your commitment to running. I hate running with almost as much passion as you love it, and I don't know how you do it. Good for you! Tell Tiff Happy Mothers Day!