This Runner's Trials

Try to Qualify for the Boston Marathon Training Plan

In the past 36 hours I've successfuly done a longish run, lake swim and bike ride. I'd say I'm finally healed from surgery and ready to get back into training :) 

I finally have my 14 week training plan together for the Atlantic City Marathon on October 17.

I don't officially start training  until July 12.  I'm taking the next 2 weeks to build-up AND triathlon train. I almost forgot I have my first Olympic distance triathlon in fewer than 5 weeks- and one of those weeks I'll be in NJ without a bike or place to swim! Oops.

I chose the Atlantic City Marathon for one reason: it's flat. I've only "run" one marathon before, in January 2009. I didn't properly train and it was a horrible experience. I said I'd never do another one...

But something weird happened in the past year. I changed my mind. I blame it all on  Runner's World SmartCoach.

Last Fall I plugged my numbers into the SmartCoach system for a half marathon. My previous 1/2 PR had been a 1:50:25 on a very flat course. SmartCoach said I could run a 1:47 if I followed their plan.

Ha. I didn't think there was any way I could run a sub 1:50 half. But I decided to humor SmartCoach and follow my prescribed plan to a T for 12 weeks. I did speedwork. I hung out with the dreadmill a lot. I hiked a mile in 2 feet of snow to do a long run on the treadmill.

But guess what? I didn't run a 1:47 half.

I ran a 1:43:12 half on a hilly course and had the time of my life!

Then 3 weeks later I ran another half. In 1:45 and change, in the rain. A month later, I finally ran a 1:47 half... with walk breaks.

I started gaining confidence and thinking maybe I could run a full marathon again. So I consulted SmartCoach. Not only did SmartCoach say I could run a marathon, but it said I could run one pretty well, in my opinion. Below the time I'd need to qualify for the Boston Marathon- 3:40:59- which has always been a dream of mine.

I smelled a challenge with my favorite competitor: myself.

I have my doubts. In fact, I mostly have doubts! I know this is crazy ambitious. Especially since I'll also be triathlon training for a possible 1/2 Ironman in November. But SmartCoach has worked for me before, so why not give it a go? :)

Here's my training plan (it will open in a .pdf file). Based on SmartCoach and tweaked a bit by me to add swims and bike rides.

Some notes:

  • I often change the days of my workouts based on weather, work, etc. The goal is just to get in all the runs for that week.
  • I am such a slacker when it comes to strength training! Though I know how important it is. I'm going to try to get in one lifting session per week.
  • I don't always stick with my time goals- especially on long runs (speedwork being the exception). I figure, as long as I'm below them, I'm good.
  • I need to work in more "brick" workouts- a bike ride immediately followed by a run. So my training plan will be adjusted to add those when I feel like it :)

What's the craziest event  you've ever trained for? Did you meet your goal?

Comments (17) Trackbacks (5)
  1. The craziest I trained for was the 2010 Disney Marathon.

    I hated every training run over 14 miles. And hated the marathon itself as a result…not to mention how dreadfully cold it was that day.

    I wasn’t yet at a “happy place” with running. Still not totally there…but I’m making progress.

    I vowed immediately after Disney that I would not consider doing another marathon in 2010. (Meaning I wouldn’t even start a training program for a 2011 event).

    I do know that eventually I’ll want to try another marathon. This one where I could finish with a smile on my face rather than being pissed off and miserable the whole time!

    (My goal for Disney was to finish. Which I did…in 6h 30+ min. I walked miles 17-26. I am totally ashamed of that time. Yes, I should be proud that I finished – and I sort of am. Just not as proud as I want to be.)

    Maybe someday I’ll be able to come across the finish line at 26.2 and feel whole-heartedly proud of the accomplishment.

    • You have a similar story to my first marathon- but mine was Disney ’09 (I ran the 1/2 there this year and froze). I never did a training run over 16 mi and obviously walked much of mi 16-26.2.

      I hope you run another marathon again soon. And I hope we both have better outcomes :)

  2. You are so inspiring! You know I’m here to run with whenever you want a running buddy. :)

  3. I predict that you finish closer to 3:20 than 3:40. You are SO fast! :)

  4. Awesome goal!

    BUT a word of caution-moving from the half to RACING a full is tough! My friend was running a 1:36 half M when she did her first full, and it’s taken her 3 or 4 tries to BQ.

    I know you can do it, but I remember that when I was running a 1:42-half I thought a 3:40 full would be MUCH easier than it is.

    Looking forward to following your journey- I’m hoping to return to marathons next year to see if I can get my current (unimpressive) PB down a bit!

    • I agree with you 100%. That’s why I said I have mostly doubts. But it (hopefully) won’t hurt to try :) I’m glad your friend finally qualified! That’s super-impressive!

      • Definitely! And much as I love to tri, one of my favourite training programmes was when I trained for a specific marathon PB- there’s so much less uncertainty compared to long distance triathlon, and I loved having a lofty and concrete goal.

        Good luck :)

  5. I’m so glad to hear you’re fully on the road to recovery!! :)

    And I think it’s awesome that you’re training for a marathon and hoping to BQ. I would just also second the caution above, only because it’s your first one, right? I’m not saying that you should have doubts (because it seems like you’re totally capable of qualifying!!), just saying that the jump is pretty tough. Especially because anything can happen on race day. I was on target to qualify during my first marathon, but then my legs seized up at mile 14 and I ended up missing it by 5 minutes. Definitely disappointing. But on my second try, I ended up smashing my old time — probably because my body knew more what to expect.

    I’d also say that it’s great that you’re doing more than one 20-miler. I’ve seen a lot of plans that only have you do one, but I think doing 2 – 3 REALLY helps your speed in the marathon. I know your window is short, but is there any way that you can spread the 20-mile runs out so you’re not doing them back to back? They do take a lot out of you.

    Anyway, I really hope this post doesn’t sound negative (I know things can unintentionally come across that way in writing sometimes). Because I really REALLY am impressed with your plan — especially since you’re doing an Olympic distance triathlon in the middle of it all!! And I really think it’s great that you have that as a goal in your training. It looks like you’re going to be working hard over the next several months, and I’m looking forward to following. I’ll definitely be behind you, rooting for ya the whole way!! :)

    • Hey Lauren, not negative at all :) I totally appreciate the advice of people w/ experience! I have run one before (but didn’t train properly) and thought it was the HARDEST thing in the world.

      I know this goal is really lofty. And I guess I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining I felt that way. But I just wanted to try another marathon right now while I’m in shape, and before I get pregnant. And since the training program said I could run that fast, I figured why not just put in a little more effort and try to follow it? I figure I have nothing to lose. And I won’t be disappointed if I don’t qualify. Rather, I’d be completely shocked if I did.

      I was thinking of doing three 20-milers and just still may. I also thought about not doing them back-to-back, but wanted to see how I feel once I get into training. I may do a 12 miler this weekend and start my long runs a little higher to fix that problem. I just didn’t want to jump in to an official plan this week because I didn’t know how long recovery from surgery would take. Thanks for the great tips!

  6. I think you can do it Jen!! You are such a hard worker:) good luck friend!

  7. Good luck training! I’ve only ever trained for halves, but never really for time. I don’t think I’ve ever had the confidence to try to beat a certain time, and I usually finish around the same time regardless of how training went.

    Glad to hear that you’re feeling better!

  8. If you can run a 1:43 HalfMary, you can TOTALLY BQ! Can’t wait to follow your training!

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