Discovering My True Running Potential

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.

marathon-no-backgroundWhen 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.

marathon

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!

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