Monday, March 28, 2011

Who will get to run Boston, Part 3

A few months ago I posted that changes to the Boston Marathon registration and/or qualification process would be announced some time in early 2011.

On February 19, The BAA announced that effective for the 2013 Boston Marathon, qualifying times would be lowered by 5 minutes in each age-group category. For the 2012 Boston Marathon, qualifying times will remain the same as before, but some changes will be made in the registration process. Those with faster times within each age group category will be able to register sooner, thus making running time and not computer access time the limiting factor in whether one can get in. This graduated registration process will continue in 2013 and beyond.

What does this mean for me? First of all, it means that even if I had just made my sub-4:00 marathon time in October, likely would not have been good enough for a 2012 Boston entry. Unfortunately I do know some people who have qualifying times from fall marathons, but now might not be able to get in for 2012. Although I think the new system is a fair way of adressing the registration overload problems they had this past fall, it seems a bit unfair to those who thought they had qualified under the old rules before February 19. But the BAA never made any promises that those times would be good enough for 2012; people had made assumptions based on what had been done in previous years.

On a practical level for me, the new registration system and qualifying times mean that I will simply have to work harder and run faster in order to try to qualify for 2013 or later. I would need a qualifying time of 3:55, but I might actually need a faster time than that once registration takes place. This will be tough since I have only run three marathons and I have slowed down in each one, despite starting at a pace that was in theory reasonable based on my training and half-marathon pace. I will need more long training runs, more training runs at race pace, and more lactate threshold work in order to achieve this big goal. Is 3:55, or even 3:50 a reasonable marathon goal? I think so, but I can only see how well I progress as I work toward taking time off my half-marathon time first, and then train for the best possible marathon I can do.

I am still thinking about the option of obtaining a Boston Marathon spot with a fundraising organization, but I will think about this after I run my fall marathon.

But for the sake of this blog, the short answer to the question, "Who will get to run Boston?":

I will. Someday.


  1. What would you say is the percentage of miles/week (at race pace) will be required to meet your goal? Or should the number of miles at race pace that is required to meet your goal, determine the number of miles you run per week?

    Rob in Cloverdale

  2. Looking at your race history, I actually think that going for a 3:50 is achievable. If you were to focus your efforts on quality, not quantity, you will probably find that you will improve your speed and times. This would entail essentially four workouts per week- 1 LSD, 1 tempo, 1 speed session and 1 recovery. Tempo run max 10km session/week, and speed work something like 4x800's, recovery 8-10km max.

    I also think that one of the areas where you need to focus on, would be to go out with a conservative pace for the first couple of km's, then speed up by 3-5 seconds/km, and target a negative for the end. Too many people charge off the start line, only to run out of gas in the last few important km's. Trust me, I pass them all the time.

    Perhaps also look at your nutrition, as that can be an integral role. Maybe you need to increase your calories during the race. You definitely have the cabability to do a sub-4, if not a sub-3:50, no doubt! - Angela

  3. Rob- I'm really not sure. Some people say "none", that long runs should be slower and tempo runs and speed work should be faster.... but others say differently. I did quite a bit for my last marathon but it didn't really help me hold my pace for those last 10K. I think maybe the key is to get to the point where marathon pace feels like an easy pace for a good portion of the long run, but I'm not sure. We'll see what my coach says.

    And thanks, to you too, Angela, for your encouraging and helpful comments.