Here we are – the first of three half-marathon races on the road to the Boston Marathon in April.
Much like I did last year participating in the Austin Distance Challenge leading up to the Austin Marathon or in my ramp up to the New York City Marathon in November, I will be racing half-marathons to help me peak for a strong marathon performance.
So far I am 2 for 2 with consecutive PR’s in the marathon using this strategy, so if it’s not broken …. well, you know the rest.
So this coming weekend perhaps the fastest half-marathon course in the state of TX will be on display at the 3M Half Marathon in Austin. Due to some construction around the finish area at Waterloo park, the talk is that this year’s 3M course may be even FASTER than previous years. Hard to believe, but if that is the case, there are going to be some monster PR’s set at 3M this coming Sunday.
Oh, I almost forgot. I’m not running that one.
I’ll be running The Texas Half up in Dallas a day earlier on Saturday, January 28th.
Now you may be wondering why, if all I’m looking for is a tough workout on the road to Boston, why don’t I aim to go low at 3M and maybe lower my half-marathon PR of 1:23:55 in the process.
To be completely honest, I’m not really interested in running a PR on Saturday. Well, that isn’t completely accurate – I hope to do exactly that up in Dallas, but that is not the goal. The goal is to prepare for Boston and to do that, I want to post three “legitimate” half-marathon times on neutral to slightly difficult courses to help me gauge my fitness for race day in Hopkinton, MA.
Just as last year I made the trip out to Denver to race at altitude in the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon as my final tune-up before the New York City Marathon, I’m not looking for an “easy” course or a “fast” course. I’m looking for an “honest” course – and by all accounts, it looks like I will get exactly that at White Rock Lake in Dallas.
The course is relatively flat, there are some turns and of course there will be winds kicking up off of the lake. I do not think it will be as challenging a race as Denver was for me last year, but I do think that whatever my time is at the end of the day, it will serve as a strong predictor for Boston.
Take your half-marathon time, double it and add 10 minutes. That is a good gauge of wkat your marathon potential is if all factors such as wind, injuries, fitness and race course are equal. Boston is a tough marathon course, no doubt about it – so instead of 10 minutes, I will probably look to add 12 minutes to my “double half-marathon” time.
That means I am going to need to run something along the lines of 1:23-1:24 at The Texas Half, The Austin Half Marathon in February or the Shamrock Half-Marathon in Virginia Beach in March to have a legitimate shot at 3 hours at Boston.
I did not want to have only one half-marathon time to work with as anything can happen on an individual race day. Both good and bad.
But by having three half-marathons in the books to compare as well as the tremendous workout that racing 13.1 miles at true race pace will supply to our training cycle – I think we will have a very strong grasp on our potential come April 16th at Boston.
If 3:05 is what our predictors are saying for Boston, then so be it – that is what we are going to zero in on and run to the best of our abilities on race day. But if we are able to lay down a 1:23:30 let’s say at one of these half-marathons, then we will take dead aim at 3 hours and give it our absolute best shot on race day.
Had I run that time at 3M on Sunday, sure it might look impressive in my training log or on the wall in my office where my race bibs from my PR’s hang in frames, but I would know.
I would know that the course was fast and I simply took advantage on a favorable day.
I’m not one for self-delusion. If I am going to stand on Main Street in Hopkinton, MA with the thought of a 2:59:59 marathon in my head, I damn well better be sure that I also have it in my heart. Knowing that I am ready.
That is the thing about the marathon, you can kid yourself for a while, but late in the race, the marathon will expose you. Those final 10 kilometers have a way of separating the contenders from the pretenders.
If we don’t run well on Saturday in Dallas or if the weather plays a role in a slower than hoped race time, all is not lost. I know that I have been training hard up to this point and I am not rested. There will be no taper for this race, in fact, I’m coming off of another 20-mile long run on Sunday and a third 66-mile training week.
But the race will be a strong indicator as to where we are right now, what work needs to be done before our next two races, especially that final tune-up out in Virginia Beach just 4 short weeks before Boston. I’m going to eat right this week, get my sleep, take my runs a little easier than usual and let it all hang out on Saturday.
Whatever the clock says when we come across the line, we’ll know we earned every second.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.