In the running world, the Boston Marathon is essentially the pinnacle race of the sport. Having started in 1897 and being the longest running marathon in the United States, the Boston Marathon has grown in popularity every year. Due to this, there are strict qualifying standards to even apply for a race entry based on age group. For the M18-34 age group, that time standard is a 3:05, or roughly 7:05/mile.
I had my eye on the Boston Marathon ever since I started running after high school. I signed up for my first marathon in 2010, hoping to qualify when the time standard was a 3:10. After a good amount of training, I failed to qualify by 3 minutes, running a 3:13 at the Baltimore Marathon. The next year, I trained harder and really ramped up my mileage and intensity. As one could guess, this increase in a short amount of time led to injury after injury and ultimately put me out of running for a couple months. I showed up at Baltimore the next year injured and undertrained. I didn’t qualify for Boston, but managed to run a 3:25 with little training due to the injury. After taking the rest of the year off, I made it a goal to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon. I registered for the flat and fast Philadelphia Marathon in November 2012 (the beginning of the qualifying year for 2014) and changed my training strategy. I switched from a high intensity/high mileage plan to a lower mileage/high intensity plan. I emphasized more speed work and threshold work 2 times per week and the classic long run on the weekends. Knowing that I wouldn’t be running as many miles each week, I extended the length of my training blocks into 6×5 week blocks, for a 30 week training program. Ultimately, I ended up peaking at the perfect time and toed the starting line without any injury or any signs of over or under training. At Philly, I had an amazing race and finished in 2:59 to secure a qualifying time.
I was so pumped to have finally achieved the pretty tough qualifying standard. Third times a charm! As I tracked my friends and training partners online at the Boston Marathon this year, I was heart broken to hear about the bombings at the finish line. Luckily, my friends were all finished and all were okay and accounted for. After the events of that day, the motivation to qualify for Boston 2014 was increased and runners everywhere entered races to achieve that qualifying time. According to Runners World, there was a significant increase in summer marathon registrations in hopes of achieving or improving a previous qualifying time to guarantee a spot in 2014.
The registration window officially opened in September. Having achievied a time 6 minutes faster than the standard, I had to wait until day 5 of registration to register. 20 minutes and faster registered first, then the 10 minutes and faster, and finally the 5 minutes and faster. Tomorrow, any qualifier can apply, assuming there are spots still available.
Even with the staggered registration windows, I was still able to secure a spot. I am so excited to have finally earned my spot at Boston through hand work and determination. The first two failed attempts at qualifying fueled my run in Philadelphia last year, and the events of the 2013 Boston Marathon will fuel my race next year. My ultimate goal? Sub 2:55. Training starts…Now.