In two days, I’ll be attempting my third marathon; the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon. When I registered for the race, I had two plans in mind; (a) finish the race with a finishing time that would all but guarantee me a trip to Boston in 2018 and (b) earn the ridiculously large medal below.
When the window for the qualifying times for the 2018 Boston Marathon opens in September, I’ll be entering a new age category which means I’ll need 3hrs 25min 00sec to qualify (plus a buffer of a 4-5 minutes). I decided my goal time for Sunday’s race would be 3:20:00; which would be a good indicator of my ability to finish a Fall marathon in that time. I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last Fall in a time of 3:33:41 for a 15 minute personal best. Surely if I train hard enough, I could shave 13+ minutes from that time, right?
Then something interesting happened. My first race of 2016 was the Chilly Half Marathon. My previous personal best for the half marathon was 1:35:34. Toeing the line, I quickly thought about how gassed I was at the finish line of that half marathon race and felt if I could finish in the neighborhood of 1:32:00, I would be very happy. Imagine my surprise when I finished with a time of 1:30:44. This is the first time I realized I was probably not training for Sunday’s marathon with the right finish time in mind. It’s also the first time I realized I may have never understood my true running potential.
In the past, my success was always measured by how fast I thought I was able to run instead of how fast I attempted to run. I decided for Sunday’s marathon, I would up the ante. I started analyzing my predicted marathon times on various race predictor websites. Every site predicted I would finish the marathon in the 3:09:10-3:11:00 range (my current qualifying time is 3hrs 15min 00sec). I decided I would modify my marathon training plan and train with these predicted finish times in mind.
I put my modified training plan to the test at the Around The Bay race in April by running the race at my new marathon pace of 4:30/km. I had some trouble after the hills, but finished the race in a time of 2:14:21 (a 4:29/km pace and silver medal!). Sure I was gassed at the end, but it gave me hope about my marathon finish time.
I have no way of controlling what will happen on Sunday; however, I put in the work and will be attempting to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon. If I am unable to qualify, I’ll be happy knowing I tried and I’ll have a ten minute buffer for my next BQ attempt in the Fall!