Short version: First Boston qualifying attempt knowing it would most likely be a crash and burn event. Crashed and burned big-time for a marathon PR by over 9 minutes, but missed my qualifier by 9 minutes with a 3:29:02.
I purposefully didn't let the Big List know that I was contemplating an attempt at a Boston Qualifier. Primarily because I felt that it was most likely out of my reach unless everything went perfectly. Well, the weather was just about perfect, chilly at the start and just a touch warm near the end. We had a slight breeze, but nothing to really affect my time. The course was a very nice course with just a couple of short hills. I simply am not a 3:20 marathoner, yet.
My plan was about as conservative as you can get for a 3:20 time goal. I wanted to run 7:40s for 16 miles then run 7:30s till the finish. This would give me the 3:20 and if I had to keep it at 7:40s I could still get the needed 3:20:59 for Boston. I wrote out my goal splits every 4 miles on my hand since I can't calculate on the run.
I started with Marc Frommer and Jerome Fecosi and it only took 3 seconds to cross the start. Marc started us out at a nice 7:46 pace but we slowed down a little and I left them to move ahead. By the 3rd mile however, I was 30 seconds off my goal pace. I then figured that I would try to make up the time gradually so that I would be on track by 16 miles. I walked through the aid stations just long enough to drink what I needed and other than a few miles when I lost concentration was able to keep my pace reasonably steady. To my pleasure and surprise, I hit 16 miles at 2:02:39, 1 second faster than my planned split. I was feeling pretty confident at this point. I was tired, but still running reasonably strong. I tried to pick the pace up, but I new that all I needed to do was maintain a 7:40 then add a slight kick going downhill to the finish chute and I would make my time.
Miles 6 to the finish were a long out and back along the shore of Newport bay. Actually a great place to run although the camber of the road was a little much. The turn around was just after 15 miles. Mile 16 was 7:41 and included two aid stations so I was feeling my pace was going to be OK. I increased the effort a tad hoping to see 7:30s or at least 7:35. Unfortunately, mile 17 was 7:37, slower than I wanted but still better than the 7:40 minimum to qualify. Mile 18 was 7:44 however, and it was a lot harder. Mile 19 was 7:47 and I started to have serious doubts that I was going to pull it off. I was working pretty darn hard and my pace was slowing down. I gave last gasp effort and 20 was 7:43.
The rest of splits tell a very familiar and sad tale.21 7:59
Very simply, I crashed and burned. I've never worked so hard in a race as in those last 5 miles nor ever felt so miserable. As I saw my mile times go by (as well as the runners that flashed by me) I started to think that I would have to settle for pulling out a 3:25. That quickly became a joke and I was doing everything I could to try and not walk so I could come in under 3:30. Marc Frommer clipped along past me at about an 8:00 pace or better the last mile as if I was standing still. It was miserable.
However, the good news is that I now have a solid Marathon PR set on an accurate course and I never would have thought 6 months ago that I could ever break 3:30. Just a year and 1 week ago I ran my first Marathon in 4:20:14, so a 50 minute improvement isn't too bad. In the process I also ran better than a number of other race PRs:Beat my 12k PR (Sound to Narrows 99)
So while I am disappointed in not qualifying for Boston (by a BIG margin), I'm not unhappy with my race. I "went for it" and crashed. It was a good learning experience and sure points out my weaknesses that I can work on in training. I would mention however, that if someone wants to run sub 3:30, I would not recommend this technique, it is way too painful. Just run 8:00 miles instead.
Not sure if I will be able to run the 12k Sound to Narrows on Saturday, I may have to run the 5k with my kids instead. OTOH, if I can walk, I'll tackle the 12k and see if I can beat my time from last year.