Here is the long answer:
My primary goal is to qualify for Boston. With my age group qualifying time being 3:35, that means I need to run around a 3:30 to guarantee an entry for 2018. I was able to get that done last year, for the California International Marathon with a 3:29:52. Would it be weird to tattoo that on my forehead, or….?
Do you know what a BHAG is? It stands for Big Harry A$$ Goal. It is something that will be pretty damn hard, but its possible. For my first marathon, my BHAG was to qualify for Boston with a 3:30. Based of training paces and workouts, I do think it is within my capabilities to one day to run a marathon closer to a 3:15. That would mean around a 7:26 average pace for 26.2 miles. That’s my new BHAG.
At the start of this training cycle, I didn’t think that was a shot in hell I could make that happen for Chicago. I am still not sure. However, I will say that I feel a lot more positive about my ability to do that than when I started. I’ve been able to get some solid long runs in between 7:33 and 8:00 min/mile average pace – and that is generally with an elevation gain and drop of about 1,000 feet.
My biggest concern about trying to run a 3:15 is that I blow up mid-race and miss qualifying for Boston. In that sense, it might be smarter to shoot for a 3:20 or 3:25.
There are a number of outcomes here, but these are the ones that jump out in my mind as the “scary” ones:
- Run like hell for the 3:15 and hope I don’t blow up.
- If I do blow up, try to register for a Revel race (generally flat courses) OR the CIM, also a flat course.
- Run conservatively and aim for a 3:20-3:25 and slowly work my way closer to a 3:15 over a couple of years.
- Run conservatively and aim for a 3:20-3:25 and still try to sign up for a Revel or the CIM race, and then try for a 3:15 in one of those races depending on what happens with Chicago.
- Now – the Revel would be in November and CIM is in December. Running two marathons that close together puts me at a higher risk for injury. I am going to run Boston 2017. That training cycle will basically start in the beginning of 2017. So I need to be careful with possible injuries so that it doesn’t put Boston 2017 at risk.
There are going to be a lot of things to consider:
- How the rest of my training goes.
- Chicago is supposed to be a flat and fast course.
- Should I run with a pacer? I loved my pacers at the CIM, but Chicago is huge and it will be easy to get knocked down with so many people jockeying for position. I’ve heard some horror stories about trying to stay with a pace group in Chicago.
- Which pacer should I choose? If I did pick the 3:20 pacer, I feel like I’d be terrified to leave them if I were feeling good enough at the half mark to try for a 3:15. A pacer might be like a security blanket – and if I pick the wrong one, it could potentially hold me back.
- If the weather is going to cooperate.
- The energy – Chicago is a big race. There are going to be a lot of spectators and a lot of energy.
3:30 pacer Clark was the best for the CIM. Maybe I can just call him and ask him to run me in at Chicago LOL.
The short answer?
I haven’t decided. I may not really decide until the expo day when I have to pick a pace group (or not pick one). I’ve gotta get to the start line healthy – that is the most important. I’m going to keep working hard and loving training, because in the end, it really is just a 26.2 mile long celebration of all the hard work.