Tuesday, January 24, 2012


October 2010 I ran the Atlantic City Marathon in 3:12:26. It's my personal best. My ambition is a sub-three hour marathon finish. 2:59:59 will do. I've run four marathons since Atlantic City – including the Boston Marathon, which was the goal that got me running in the first place, and the Idaho Falls Marathon, where I intended to get my sub-3. It didn't happen, and (correcting for altitude because the race in Idaho was run at 6,000 feet) all my finishes in 2011 were essentially the same at 3:18:30.

My Atlantic City time qualified me for Boston this year (2012); it's not sure any of my 2011 finishes would have*. I've got three months to train for a sub-3 hour finish to make my goal and guarantee I can register to run Boston in 2013 (something I really want to do). I don't understand why my results have plateaued, nor why I've gotten slower. People who follow my running know that I'm training as much as ever and am fast enough to finish faster that I have been, even if not in under three hours.

It troubles me that every marathon I ran in 2011 (Boston in ideal conditions, Cleveland in the wet, Idaho in the sky, and Chicago in the heat) my time was always the same. Idaho and Chicago should have been fast – I was very well trained and motivated – but they weren't.

Complicating things, after a dispiriting month of training, I ran a prep race (The Boston Prep 16 Miler) last Sunday and performed much better than I thought I could. (Make that: much, MUCH better). I still have no idea if I can make my goal, nor why running fast has been so hard during the past year, nor what made me run so fast Sunday.

If anything I've got more questions than before to ask myself if I am to figure this out.

In the meantime, I'll keep running. I know I'll race to the finish line in Boston this year but I have no sense of how long it will take me. This series of my blog will record if I get there as fast as I can.

* The Boston Marathon is oversubscribed. In 2011 many qualified runners were shut out because they didn't register fast enough (the race filled in 8 hours). In response organizers created a tiered registration system of three "pre-registration" days for runners who beat their qualifying time. Beating my age-group qualifying time by 18 minutes in 2010 gave me the right to register one day early. My 2011 finish times are not good enough to allow me to register early.