Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spring BQ or Fast 5K?

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?" --Robert Schuller

For those of you in Facebook, you see that as my status today. My leg is feeling really good. I'm almost 4 weeks of healing (not running). I'm still coughing. A lot. But as tired as you might be of reading about that, I'm even more tired of coughing, writing about it and acknowledging it. One day, I will stop coughing. So, I'm going to start ignoring it, and planning "what's next."

I'm still determined to qualify for Boston, even though I recognize that's for Boston 2010 now. In my wildest dreams, I don't think I'll be ready to train hard enough to run an early February '09 marathon and qualify. So the question is, do I pick a Spring or a Fall marathon?

There are a couple of Spring options that are intriguing me:

New Jersey Marathon
Ft. Collins Old Town Marathon

But, much like the quote above, I'm confident I can qualify for Boston. After all, I only missed it by 3 minutes and 14 seconds under far less than ideal conditions in Chicago last month. Is there truly a need for me to qualify this Spring? Or should I wait for a Fall marathon? My time in Chicago is fast enough to get me preferred seeding for '09; I've made it all the way up to Corral C.

The other '09 goal I want to achieve is to run a sub 22 minute 5K. This is a tough goal. I'd have to work my proverbial and literal butt off to do it. A lot of track work, a lot of strengthening. I'd probably even increase my strength training and weight work-outs to gain more muscle to handle the lactic acid build-up.

The 5K is a difficult race for me, and not my favorite distance. The first mile beguiles me... reels me in, making me think I am strong and fast. If run well, my first mile split will generally surprise and delight me, and I find that I am feeling pretty good. Here is where the race begins for me. I begin to tire half-way through mile two. I think, "Well, good race, but maybe next time. You weren't ready for these speeds," and want to slow down. But--if I'm running well--I don't.

With a little over a mile to go, the suffering becomes intense. All I really want to do is quit. It's worse than the marathon. And quitting is an option available to me. But, I have to talk myself into not quitting and to realizing I'll be wearing the finish time as a badge for months to come. Seconds count. And I continue my race strategy closing in for the final mile. This involves counting the seconds backwards. I know what my finish time will be. I know exactly how long until I finish. I mentally bring my way against the massive outcry of my body to stop, and bring it to the end, nothing left. It's all about hanging on.

Shaving 98 seconds off my very best effort is no small feat. But, I believe I can earn it. And perhaps this training will prepare me to be an even better marathoner.

If you have an opinion on whether I should spend the Spring training for the sub 22 minute 5K or spend it training for a Spring BQ marathon, please comment here, send me an email if you have it, or direct message me in twitter. I'd love to hear some opinions to help me make this decision.


Kevin said...

Alex, I've been faced with the same dilemma. I have been trying to qualify for Boston for 2 years and have not even been able to run a qualifying marathon because of injuries. I am going to shoot again in the Spring to qualify for 2010, with a Fall marathon as a fallback should I need it.


runner-grrl said...

Kevin, Thanks for the thoughts. Maddening, isn't it? We know we have it in us.... --Alex

RunColo said...

The wildcard with the spring marathon is the temperature and the wind.

Yes, it can be hot for a fall marathon but the advantage is that you are coming off a summer of training in the heat, thus your body can adjust better. Where as a spring marathon, the heat can be a total shock.

With wind, simply put, it's windier in the spring.

For a small & fast marathon, relatively close by, I've heard good things about the Lincoln Marathon (NE). I was going to run it this year but had to scratch as I got a Hip Flexor Sprain four weeks before the race.

runner-grrl said...

Runcolo, Thanks for your thoughts! I've come to realize that it's just so hard to get everything you CAN'T control to come together for a marathon :-) --Alex