New goals for Avenue of the Giants

It’s no secret that I have been training for the last couple of years in hopes of running a Boston-qualifying time in the marathon. My dream, which once seemed completely out of reach, is to qualify, then run the Boston Marathon. I’ve had any number of failures along the way, but I’m sticking with my goal.

Last weekend’s Livermore Half Marathon got me thinking. Going into this cycle, I set up my training exactly for the task. In order to qualify for Boston, a man my age needs to run a 3:25:00 or better in a qualified race. So, my tempo runs (which, on the Hanson’s Marathon Method plans are run at goal marathon pace) have all been at 7:48/mile and my strength runs are done at 7:39, etc. Going into the half on Saturday, the fitness “test” was to finish the half at or batter than ~1:39:00. If I could do that, I can assume my fitness is where it should be to reach my 3:25:00 goal in about a month.

As I wrote earlier, I ran a 1:33:11 on Saturday, which is a fair bit better than I expected. Frankly, I surprised the hell out of myself. I started thinking that maybe I should reset my goals for Avenue of the Giants Marathon, too. I decided to reach out to a running coach I’ve worked with before, Jason Fitzgerald, to ask him whether I’m being irrationally exuberant, or if it does make sense to aim at a time better than 3:25:00.

Part of my reasoning is practical. If I run a 3:25:00, while I will have technically qualified, odds would be against my getting a spot in Boston. There is so much demand for getting into the race, that each qualification group typically “fills up” a minute or two better than the qualifying standard for that group, so running better than 3:25 will give me a better shot at actually getting in. While I’d be proud that I ran a qualifying time, I’d be very disappointed if I didn’t actually get to run the race!

After a bit of back and forth, he agreed that it appears I can set my sights a bit higher. When I asked him if I could pay him for his advice, he said, “No worries Sean. Pay me with a 3:18!”

So that’s it, I’m going to try to beat that 3:25 with time to spare. I’m about to reset my tempo and strength runs for the remainder of this cycle to reflect my new goals. This is scary.