Picking a Goal Marathon….Again

Since running my first marathon in 2012, my goal has always been to get to Boston. Or, more specifically, to get a Boston Qualifying time. I distinctly remember telling a friend that I hated the marathon, but I wanted to get that elusive BQ and then I may not even run Boston. It was just about being able to run it if I wanted to.

Seems kind of pretentious now.

Well, I got a BQ. And the kicker? I’m not going to be able to run the marathon…and I really, really want to.

Last week, I was running with a friend who was up from Tucson and we were talking Boston. She qualified a few weeks before I did at the IMS Phoenix Marathon nabbing a 3:31. We were talking about registration and how it all worked, and I learned an important little tidbit. Even if I’m able to register with my time, once it fills up, they’ll start bumping people out, according to their time. Having a mere 17 seconds off the required time, I’ll be one of the first people dropped.

It dawned on me immediately that this meant another marathon. I didn’t make it a secret after the Phoenix Marathon that I don’t like the marathon. It’s hard on your body, the training and the race itself, and it’s hard on you + whoever is in your general vicinity.

I’m not going to lie, my first reaction was disappointment, followed immediately by frustration. In that moment, I did not want to race another marathon. I wanted to enjoy my fall racing schedule full of trail runs and races and then enjoy a leisurely winter before gearing up for an easy marathon training cycle for Boston. I was looking forward to running a marathon–one I have been dreaming of for three years now–with no pressure or time constraint to worry about.

The bonus of not being able to run Boston this year? My consolation prize is a trip to Peru. Through a series of events, there happened to be an opportunity to go to Peru the same week as Boston next April. I, of course, stated that I worked too hard to get into Boston to not go, given the opportunity, and J supported that decision and said he would join me in Boston. So, even though I’m unable to run Boston, I’ll get to enjoy a special trip with my guy that week anyway, and that’s not bad at all.

So with that nailed down and decided, the task came down to picking another marathon to race. I spent all day last Tuesday looking at marathons, looking at my calendar, looking at potential training schedules, all to find the ideal race, time of year, and when to begin training again.

Here were my considerations:

1. My fall racing schedule. Right now, I’m currently registered for the Flagstaff Half Marathon (trail), the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run (…trail, in case you weren’t sure), and Ragnar McDowell Mountain (trail). It’s pretty dang full already. And I’m considering another trail run in August…Adding in marathon training wouldn’t be impossible, but I’ve experienced serious moments of burnout before and I don’t want that to happen again. Additionally, I was really excited about spending the fall on the trails, and only the trails. The idea of throwing road training in there too didn’t overly excite me.

2. How I would integrate the trail + road training. My primary concern was this: trail running is the different side of the same coin as road running. These trail races I’m doing is purely to do them. Both the Flag Half and Soulstice are essentially up mountains. Flag gains 1100 ft in 13 miles and Soulstice gains about 1781ft in 10 miles. For neither of these runs will I be concerned with time. It will purely be for the experience. And Ragnar is just for fun. I’m not terribly concerned with maintaining speed work, as much as I am for making sure my legs will be ready to climb and descend that much. The plus side is my emphasis on hill training will make me a stronger runner overall. However, I’m afraid of losing too much speed work in September and October and worry that would affect my overall marathon goals.

3. Burnout. It’s a real problem, people. Too much training and stress definitely makes me want to not run. I’m concerned that piling my plate too high will result in a less-than-stellar performance and racing another marathon won’t actually be beneficial to me.

4. Timing. It’s what I’ve been getting at this whole time. My friend was trying to get me to register for the California International Marathon in Sacramento on December 4th, but for reasons listed above, I was concerned about adding a marathon onto the tail end of my fall schedule. But, I also didn’t want to train through the winter, but I didn’t want to race in May or June because I have no idea how long we’ll be in Peru and from what J could tell me, the running situation didn’t sound ideal. I didn’t want to risk not running for two weeks when I should be peaking in my training. I’m not picky at allllll…..

With those four concerns in mind, I started researching marathons. I started off by looking in November and December. CIM was a consideration, though I was hesitant since the entry fee was rather high, plus we’d have to fly to Sacramento, rent a car and hotel room…etc. The fees were piling up. So, I looked at other races in CA-namely the LA area.

I looked at a Run Revel Marathon in the San Gabriel Mountains, but it was the same weekend as Ragnar. Then I looked at the Santa Clarita Marathon–which I got rather excited about running. I grew up in the SCV, so it would have been a hometown marathon for me. But, alas, it is also the same weekend as Ragnar.

Then I started looking at the Houston Marathon. It’s in January, flat, at sea level, and we’d have a free place to stay. We’d have to buy plane tickets, but we could find those pretty cheaply this far in advanced…

Then my friend told me about the IMS Marathon in Phoenix. It is also flat, in the middle of February and CHEAP. Entry fees are $35 right now. Compared to Houston’s $135, it seemed like a no brainer. It’s also so close that we would be saving SO much more money. And in the end, that was the clincher for me. Between the two courses, there’s not a whole lot of difference in regards to elevation change. They’re two weeks apart, so training won’t be terribly different (and IMS is later, so I have a little more time to train), and we’d be able to bring Ru-dog, which is always a bonus.

the arizona marathon home

Now that’s it’s all said and done, I’m registered, and this thing is for real…I’m excited. I know I’m capable of a 3:30 Marathon and I’d really, really like to get it. So, hopefully all this different kind of training will pay off and I’ll be coming into marathon training in November a stronger runner!

Let the BQ #2 Journey begin!

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11 thoughts on “Picking a Goal Marathon….Again

  1. Whoo hoo!!! This is so exciting!! I can’t wait to watch your journey unfold. It really is tough trying to balance marathon training with a jam-packed race season. I ran three half marathons this Spring during my training and it was just too much. Oh well, live and learn! Or not…I also have three races scheduled this summer before my fall full! LOL

    That’s definitely a bummer about your BQ not being enough, though. I personally think that’s such BS – everyone who meets the qualifying standards should be able to get in. I mean, come on. Either make more room for qualifiers or make the standards tougher but don’t set a qualifying standard unless you mean it, you know? Arg. Regardless, every year I watch the controversy unfold when people who qualified can’t get in, and I’ve decided that when I attempt my BQ I am going to train for a 3:30 just to be sure.

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    • Thanks lady!!! I definitely had my fair share of temper tantrums regarding the registration process! Haha, but I also am kind of excited for another try at a 3:30! It definitely seems like that’s where you need to be in order to get to Boston at this point!

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  2. Soooo exciting! I hate that people can qualify and work their asses off to get into Boston, only to get turned away. I think it’s bullshit. If they want you to run faster, lower the qualifying times to avoid the heartbreak. I can’t imagine how that must feel!! You are so going to kill this race and get your BQ!!!

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    • I think what makes me even more mad is those people who don’t qualify at all and get to run it! I’m kind of like..uh, I worked HARD to get that time and I don’t get to run..but you do? It baffles me! Thanks for your support! Excited to get it goin again 🙂

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      • Oh. My. God. Don’t even get me started on the charity spots. Last year was my first year that I wasn’t a squeaker getting into Boston. I fought for every second for several years to get my BQs. And every single year, when registration came around, I would impatiently wait for my confirmation to see if I got in – and curse the charity runners! They take up spots that people earned – and the spots they are taking up could go to people who legitimately busted their ass to qualify. Ugh!!! Sorry for the rant. Boston is my favorite marathon, but the qualifying/charity runner thing is a huge deal to me!

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      • Haha! I definitely had this same rant earlier in the week to my friend! AND the people who just get in because their blogs have insanely high readership. I mean, great for them, but why does that justify a spot at Boston? If you don’t earn it, you shouldn’t get to run!

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  3. I wish Boston would just change the qualifying times and guarantee a spot instead of getting people’s hopes up and then telling them they can’t run it! That just doesn’t seem fair. I have a feeling you will get the chance again, whether you want to take it or not is up to you.. you seem like you know exactly what you like and don’t like and you know what makes your inner runner happy 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear all about your fall races… your trail runs are so awesome!

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