Drum roll please. I finally bought into my own recovery whole hog and begged my way into an elite marathon field. It has been nearly a decade since my last solid marathon, November 2007, so there was no guarantee anyone would let me in their race and there is also no need for me to coordinate this announcement with the race or any one else. In short it is just me having fun pretending to be a pro.
I will be racing the 2015 BAA Boston marathon on April 20th.
I have never raced Boston though I have run the course a ton of times and actually lived just past the 21 mile mark for about 6 months. The timing of the race couldn't be better and given that I haven't run a marathon since 2009 I was super grateful that they let me into the field. Also my regular training partner of late Ruben Sanca is returning to Boston this year so we can prep on the course together and hopefully work together in the race. That said it is not a race without concerns for me. Boston with a tail wind is as fast as Berlin or Rotterdam but a tailwind and cool weather combine only about once every 10 years on average so the likely hood of that is slim. In normal conditions the course is fair but not fast by world class standards and you can expect it to be a drag of 1 to 3 minutes in comparison to a very fast course, again i.e. Berlin, Rotterdam etc.. Also conditions can be very very challenging. Very high temps or strong headwinds can make the course very slow. This means my goals for the race will have to be not solely time based. I really want to run fast so I am hoping for good to great conditions but I feel more robust conditions improve my chances of finishing higher up in the field.
What are my goals for the race? At this point I'm not 100% sure. I am currently viewing 3:10 to 3:12 per kilometer in perfect conditions at my goal marathon pace. That is 2:13:37 to 2:15:00. For comparison going into the olympic trials I would have targeted 3:06 to 3:07 per k as perfect flat course goal pace. I lost about a minute to a minute 30 over the last 7 miles of that race to limping with my coordination issue but had that not happened I would have run a time for that rolling course that I would consider equivalent to running 3:06/07 pace on a very fast course. In short I would argue the trials course was about 2mins slower than a real screamer of a course and most of the top runners comparable performance bear that out.
On the upside from that goal I have not done any of the long work I'm currently doing over the last oh 5 or 6 years and I'm seeing very significant and very quick jumps in my fitness so I could see adjusting that goal pace down as I get to the specific phase. If I make this jump it could work out incredibly well as with Fernando Cabada, Nick Arciniaga and Jeffery Eggleston in the field this could create a very rare chance to get in a good group running 2:10 to 2:11 pace if I'm fit enough to go for that sort of time.
On the downside the conditions may be such that my goal pace needs to be much slower on race day regardless of fitness. Also I'm not sure what kind of group I'll have to run with in that sort of no mans land. Many of the 2:12 to 2:18 set will likely run LA as it is the USATF championship this year and with the Americans currently in the field likely to be out at 2:09 to 2:11 pace and the lead either running tactically at the same pace or running something much faster it is possible a pack behind that pace is going to be slim pickings. Now there is a great group of young locals who have run in the 2:17 range some of whom may be running Boston and depth in the US is really coming back so it is quite possible these type of guys many of whom have already achieved B standards either in a marathon or half marathon may be going out more aggressively in search of an A standard 2:15 or better and that could create a nice group but at this moment I don't know.
My final concern is that my mileage now is much lower than when I was previously training for marathons. Given my lifetime base I do not fear this will hurt my conditioning but I do have concerns that I may not be as tired doing workouts as I was when I was doing them off 140 plus miles a week now that I'm running more like the low 100's. This could mean that workouts that off 140 indicated fitness to run say 2:15 only indicate fitness to run 2:17 now. More objectively I actually think I'm more tired now because of a full time job and family commitments but that doesn't stop me from considering this as a possible complicating factor.
So on this day, Monday January 19, 13 weeks out from the Boston Marathon I feel that if I can run either 2:15 or better OR finish in the top 15 runners I should be thrilled at this stage of my comeback, while working full time and not being a spring chicken anymore. Those goals may change a good bit in the coming months but right now that is where my head is at.
Now there will be some family pressure to do better. Melissa's grandfather Tony Sapienza finished 4th in the 1958 Boston Marathon and was also working as a teacher at the time. I have tried to explain the sport has gone professional since then but basically Melissa qualifies that as whining and not having a positive outlook. She says she will settle for me winning enough money to buy a woodway curve, which would take one hell of a run. Uta thinks I should win because she always wins and I should follow her example. So we'll have to see how things go and if I wilt under the pressure.