Archive for March 30, 2012

I picked up the mail yesterday and among the half-dozen catalogs, bills and a package for Landry was the envelope we have been waiting two years for from the Boston Athletic Association.

Our Bib pick-up card arrived along with the pre-race information for this years race.

Being a “seeded” race makes Boston a lot more complicated than the average marathon.  The Boston Athletic Association painstakingly validates every applicants qualifying time down to the very second, then assigns bib numbers accordingly with the lowest numbers going to the fastest runners, the highest numbers to the “slowest” qualifiers.

Slow is all relative when it comes to Boston as every qualifier has run a tremendous race to earn their spot in the event.  Gender and age adjusts finish times upward, but within your assigned starting corral, you are surrounded by marathoners who have run a very similar time to your own.

It is what makes Boston unique and makes the start very smooth as runners of similar abilities and aspirations take on the storied point to point course from Hopkinton, MA to the Public Library on Boylston Street in downtown Boston.

This year our qualifying time of 3:08:09 posted at the New York City Marathon earned us bib number 5280.  We will be running with the first wave of athletes out of the 6th corral.

I was mildly surprised that we did not make it into the 5th corral with that time with a number somewhere around 4500-4750.  In previous years, that is exactly where we would have lined up.  But according to the B.A.A. this year’s race features a group of qualifying athletes who are 2 1/2 minutes FASTER than last year’s field.

As many predicted, including yours truly – the shift to faster qualifying standards as well as allowing runners with race times further “below” their qualifying standard to register for the race before others who qualified by a smaller margin, the field is simply “faster”.

What that means for race day is anyone’s guess.  Every race is different, each training cycle unique, each course plays to the strengths of some runners and exposes weaknesses of others.

Just because a runner posted a 3:18 in their qualifying race does not mean they will be able to match that performance at Boston.  In fact, in 2011 only 43.6% of the qualifiers who raced last April ran another qualifying time at Boston.

It’s a race that features a tough course, a late start time and a lot of distractions on race day.  In 2010 when we first ran Boston we showed up confident, but in the end I was more or less a tourist.  I didn’t fully understand the commitment and the level of dedication in training it was going to take to run well at Boston.

Well this time around this race is not a sightseeing excursion.  It is a business trip.

Sure we are going to make the most of the experience, enjoy the city of Boston and sharing the event with Dawn and Landry who the last time around was still in her Mamma’s belly.  but come 10:00 a.m. EDT – all that is going to be put aside and we are going to focus on the next three hours. 

Every stride will be measured, every move along the course will be strategic.  We will run the tangents, draft when we can and conserve as much energy as possible early so when we swing wide around the runners in front of us at the top of Heartbreak Hill – we will be running a 5-mile race to the finish.

I’m looking forward to seeing more than 5,000 bobbing heads paint the landscape in front of me as we leave Hopkinton and make our way toward Boston.  Pay attention up there guys  and run strong.  There is going to be slight runner from Austin, TX in a white USA Singlet hot on your heals.

You better bring your A game if you plan on holding him off.

Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.