I ran my first marathon in early 2008, and checked the qualifying times. Ha! I knew NOTHING about marathon strategy | I just ran. Way too fast. And by mile 20, it was over. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I finished the race, but not in the 3:20 that I needed for Boston. I finished in 4:31.
My next attempt was at the Arizona Rock & Roll Marathon a couple years later. This time out, I was a little older, had a better strategy, and needed a 3:30 to qualify. My wife, Laura, was standing right at the 20 mile mark – and when I hit that mark, I was exactly on pace for that 3:30 finish. Laura was pretty excited as I ran past her, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I finished in 3:50-something.
I tried again in Chicago, but didn’t realize that it was possible to be placed in an upper corral (and if I had – I would have been in the second corral). So I made my way into the first “open” corral and spent the first 10 miles of that race trying to weave my way through those who were qualified for the upper corrals, but were actually slower than me. 3:46. A new PR, but still not Boston qualifying.
On to Green Bay in 2012 – the year that the race was stopped because of the extreme heat. I was on mile 20 at the time. My first DNF. And still no Boston qualifying time.
And then came the Whistle Stop Marathon in Ashland, Wi. I woke up on race-day, not feeling too good. And I felt worse as I rode the bus out to the start line. At the start line, I used the porta-potties about a half-dozen times before the race started. I also ran into an old friend and almost decided to run with her, because I just didn’t think it would be my day. In the end, I decided to start up front. And it’s a good thing I did, because about a mile into the race, a young woman passed me – she was wearing a shirt that read “You’ve Just Been Chicked!” on the back. I smiled and asked where she got it? I wanted to buy one for my training partner, Julie, who frustrates a lot of guys on the race-course. We ended up being the perfect pace for each other and ran together for the next 15 miles or so. By mile 16 several others had joined us and we were right on pace for a 3:30 – not the 3:25 that I thought I needed, but a pretty good PR. It was at mile 16 that I took off with one other guy, to try to make up a few minutes and get that 3:25. And by mile 20, he decided to push even harder and left me to finish alone. In 3:25:19…19 seconds too slow. Or so I thought.
It was about two weeks later that my sister called to congratulate me for qualifying for Boston. I laughed and explained that I missed it by 19 seconds – and she explained that the 2014 race was full, so I was trying for 2015…and by 2015, I would be a year older, and in the next age-group, where 3:30 gets me in!
And so here I am – just a few days before the 2015 Boston Marathon. The training is done and I’m ready for my greatest run ever! Or at least that’s what all the race materials tell me – I guess I’ll find out for sure on Monday!
If you would like to follow along on race-day, here’s what you need to know…
Race Bib Number: 13484
Start Time: 10:25am
Television: Universal Sports
Text Alerts: Text your runner’s bib number to 234567