Three Hours, Five Minutes, Zero Seconds or less. For a male, 34 years or younger on race day, 3:05:00 is the qualifying time to register for the Boston Marathon. In all practicality, it will probably take a sub-3 hour marathon to actually get to run the race. The more I read about the Chicago Marathon, the more I discovered all about the running community, worldwide events, legendary runners, support organizations, fundraising, charity drives, and the Marathon Majors. How wonderful would it be to run a marathon in Chicago, Berlin, Boston, London, New York, and Tokyo! That meant I had to qualify for Boston, which means a sub-3:00:00 marathon. That's not going to happen my first time out, so I'm settling for sub-4:00:00 finish.
Chicago is going to be my first marathon because it is convenient; I live here, so getting here is simple. What better place to show off the culmination of all this training, then by taking a running tour of this town? There will be a couple hundred thousand neighbors cheering me on (and the other 36,000+ people! thirty-six thousand!). For many, just finishing the race is their only goal. However, I'm driven by tangible goals, so I had to set something to target. For my first half-marathon, I'd set a goal of sub-2:00. I failed miserably due to over training, a lack of body awareness, and generally being under prepared. This year, sub-2:00 was my initial goal, and I was very confident that I was going to achieve it. I had been training at a 9:00 mile pace, so holding that would get me in at 1:57:54. However, the day before my race, my good friend sent me her half-marathon race result of 1:56:37, with a taunting email subject of "Beat This!". Well, that just wouldn't do! I pushed myself hard that race, and came in at 1:48:56, averaging an 8:19 pace. I had to push hard the last 5k to do that, but it felt great reporting a sub-1:50:00 time.
I've been training all year at a 9:00 pace, running in the 6:00am group out of Montrose Beach with the excellent Chicago Area Runners Association (side-note: I can't say enough good things about CARA. If you are training for a marathon, don't look anywhere else for your summer training. More about that in another post.). That pace puts me at the finish line with a time of 3:55:48, giving me 4:12 of wiggle room. Barring injury, accident, or mental breakdown, I'll be finishing the marathon with a big 'ole Three at the start of my time, and it will feel great. If you are bored, or already plan on being along the course, I'll be the tall white guy with long dark hair, wearing a yellow shirt with 10017 pinned to my chest. I'm probably going to be in my own head, calculating splits and pace and thinking of all the lines I should change in these posts when I get back home, and eventually crawling across the finish line, and hobbling my way home.
And then I'm going to cry, because I need to pace 6:52 in order to get into Boston.