Yesterday, I read the news on Runners World that registration closed for the 2016 Boston Marathon, and the cutoff time was 2:38 faster than Qualifying Times. Looking at past years, I was planning on running about 1:10 faster than the Qualifying Time of 3:35:00 to make sure I got a spot. Given the difference in times between 2015 and 2016, I’m assuming that to get into the 2017 Boston Marathon, I will have to run at least 3 minutes faster than the Qualifying Time. In other words, my new A goal for the Philadelphia Marathon needs to be 3:32:00. This is only 7 seconds faster per mile than simply meeting the qualifying standard. Still, yesterday I spent the day freaking out. All of my PR’s project out to at least 38 seconds slower than the 3:32:00 I want.
Because it was raining and because I wanted to ensure I ran at a fast pace, I ran inside on the gym treadmill. My legs were exhausted yesterday. I ran 20 very hilly miles on Saturday, did Bikram Yoga on Sunday, ran 5 miles on Monday, and ran 5 miles on Tuesday. Nevertheless, images of crossing the marathon finish line minutes after my goal time motivated me to set the speed to 7:29/mile and run until my numb muscles hit 5 miles. I finished feeling very relieved that I had two rest days planned before a long run on Saturday.
I think I’m getting too caught up in the numbers. I am excellent at setting standards and then achieving them. To-do lists do not stand a chance in the path of my wrath, and checking things off gives me a sense of bliss. Once I set a plan, I follow it religiously. All of the numbers say that I am about a month ahead of where I was the same time last year, and that I am way faster. My mileage per week is way higher. I don’t think I could be trying any harder without courting injury. But then…I second guess myself. Could I be trying harder? Should I be running more miles? Should I be forcing myself to run faster? Or should I be running slower to keep my heartrate lower? It does not help that this is a cutback week in my training plan.
Of course, there are never any guarantees. But I was feeling very prepared. Now knowing that I have to run just a little bit faster than planned is really messing with my head.
In all the sports I’ve done, the goal has been completion, with auxiliary ‘it would be nice’ goals. Even last year, my main goal was to finish my first marathon, with the hope to maybe come in under 4 hours. I finished comfortably in 3:49:36, and I didn’t have to push at the end except to make sure I kept moving forward. In rock climbing, my goal is to get up and down rocks safely with friends. In horseback riding, my goal was to complete each event. This is the first time I am aiming for something very specific.
How do you deal with the pressure?! If I don’t meet the time, I will sign up for a spring marathon and try again. But I want it. I’m dreaming about it, in weird ways.
I’m going to get it. I think.