Monday, October 1, 2018

This Changes Nothing

Last week, I decided to sit down and write my first blog post in almost two years.  Not having the time nor desire to fully recap all the events (races, training, work, family, etc.) of the last several months, I focused on my most recent marathon experience and touched on what I have coming up, which of course is the Chicago Marathon just a few short days from now.

My original plan for this next post was to recap my training over the past 17 weeks and what my plans are heading into next week and my goals for the race.  But an announcement last Thursday caused quite the stir in the running community, especially within my own running tribe.

The Boston Marathon is pretty much like the holy grail of marathons for many of us passionate distance runners.  It's one of the most prestigious and storied races, and requires a qualifying time to participate.  Once there, from what I've been told, it's an experience like no other.  From the strong and fierce field of competitors, to the challenging but beautiful course, to the unparalleled crowd support, it doesn't get much more epic than Boston.

But like I mentioned above, in order to even toe the line at Boston, you must first prove you are worthy with a qualifying time (based on your age and gender).   For as long as I have been running marathons, the standard qualifying times have remained the same.  But with more and more people participating in the marathon distance, the field has also become increasingly competitive.  Since the BAA takes the fastest of the fast in each bracket, it has caused getting into Boston, even with a qualifying time, even more competitive.

This past year, the cut off time for acceptance was 4:52!  So for example, my standard qualifying time was 3:40, which meant I would've had to have ran at or below 3:35:08 in order to actually get into the 2019 Boston Marathon.  Recognizing how competitive the field has become, the BAA announced that week that they would bump all standard qualifying times down 5 minutes.  Which makes complete sense in my opinion, but now my BQ time is 3:35.

This shift in qualifying standards sent many a runner who had been training hard all summer for the original standard into a panic.  Rightfully so.  I will admit, my heart sank a little when I initially heard the news.  I received multiple text messages and a couple of phone calls from friends either concerned for themselves and/or for me.  One dear friend went as far as to completely go out of her way to come visit me that very evening to see how I was holding up after the big announcement.

But as the shock soon wore off, I realized that it actually changes nothing regarding my goal and what I feel as if I am capable of running this Sunday.

When I started training this summer I set my goal for 3:35.  This is 3 min faster than my best race (from 2016) and about 7 min faster from my last Chicago later that year, and what I felt to be enough to secure me a spot in the 2020 Boston Marathon.  As I've busted my ass all summer, I came to realize that not only was that goal attainable but I may even be short changing myself a little with it. So I even found myself setting my sights higher with a "best case scenario, all systems a go" goal of sub 3:30.

So yeah, the new qualifying standard eliminated my perceived "wiggle room" of running up to a 3:38ish and still hoping to get into Boston.  Of course that, I now know, would not have been enough.  So sub 3:35 it must be and sub 3:30, I'm keeping you in my sights this Sunday!