Last night, in the middle of my run, I started to think about the work I have out in front of me to achieve the goal I have for this year: to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I started doing threshold runs last night; these have me running intervals (starting at 1 mile intervals then building) of my current threshold pace: 7:50 min/mile. As I was running along during a threshold interval, I started to get down on myself as I thought, to qualify for Boston, I’m going to need to be able to run much faster, a 7:26 average pace, for a full 26.2 miles to get to the 3:15:00 I need.
As I was thinking through all of this (and cursing the 20 MPH wind), I thought about a conversation I had last week with a good friend of mine. She had worked hard to BQ, made it, and got to run the 2011 Boston Marathon and just absolutely loved it. The entire experience. Recalling that conversation helped me refocus my own thoughts from, “How on earth will I get there?” to how I’ll feel when I am there. A far more positive picture can do wonders. And then I started to think about when I’ll be there. Since I’m running my (hopefully) qualifying race in December of 2012, if all goes well, I’ll get to run the 2014 Boston Marathon. Here’s the rest of the conversation in my head:
“2104. Wow. I am getting old, yessir, I’m damn near a geezer. Well, at least my mind in still sharp. Hey look a squirrel! Geez, I’ll be 45 years old by the time I actually toe the line in Boston. How can I already be 45 … WAIT A MINUTE. I’ll be 45 damn years old?! 45?! That will put me in a different age division! A new age division, a new age division!”
Yep, it hit me in mid-run last night. When I got home, I immediately looked up the qualifying standards again, then just stood there with a smile on my face. I still doubted it a bit, so I asked my Twitter friends to confirm and sure enough, it’s true. All along, I’ve been thinking I needed to run a 3:15:00 to make it to Boston, but really, I need a 3:25:00. That’s ten more minutes for crying out loud.
Now this doesn’t mean I plan to slack my way through my training by any stretch, but that subtle shift in my head from thinking I need to run 7:26s to needing to run 7:49s for a whole marathon is a big deal. Now, as I do those threshold runs, it will feel more like practice. I’ll really get to know the feel of that particular pace, and that will be a huge help. It really is the little things.
I’m so happy to be bad at math. And for getting old. And for squirrels.