Smile Politely

Decision time

“Tortoise and Hare,” created by Nancy Schön.

On September 28, 2008, I made a universally binding, sworn on a copy of the U.S. Constitution, matrimonially-sealed declaration. “Do not,” I begged my wife, “under any circumstances, allow me to do this ever again.”

I had just finished the Quad City Marathon, my second 26.2, in 4:22:08, well short of my 3:58:29 PR. I had a sinus infection, and the race was so disastrous, so painful, I beseeched my wife to bar me from running any more marathons.

Since then, I have willingly avoided the word “marathon” unless paired with “half” in front of it. That is, until now.

I have been in negotiations with my wife for an exemption from “The Declaration” since May, after the Illinois Half Marathon. It became serious in July, when I began my PR half marathon training. And, it reached a turning point on September 9, when I broke first 1:30 at the Chicago Half Marathon.

I think I’m a much different runner today than I was in 2008. In the four years between 2004, when I picked up running again, and 2008 and the QC Marathon, I’d run only nine races: five 5ks, one half marathon, one 20-miler, and one marathon. Since then, I’ve run 58 races, including 20 half marathons, the distance I have PRed three times this year.

I think I’m more experienced than I was in 2004 or 2008. I’m not the same guy who naively picked up running shoes back then and decided to run a marathon without much of a base. I was young and invincible, and, so I thought, able to run well without much training.

The QC Marathon was eye opening. It hurt. It exhausted me. It made me question my running goals. And, it made me hate marathons.

This year has been different. Things are going really well. I’m fit. I’m injury-free. I’m motivated. I’ve PRed the half marathon. I feel like I’m at the top of my game. And, I’m reaching a pivotal point: I will soon change age groups.

In 2013, I will turn 40. It’s a milestone for any marathon runner. The time needed to BQ (qualify for Boston) increases by five minutes. from 3:10 for males 30–39 years old to 3:15 for 40–49 year olds. But, to take advantage of that five minute reprieve, I would have to wait until April and run the flat Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon (IM).

There are benefits to waiting for the IM. It’s a hometown race. I wouldn’t have to travel, and I know the route. The biggest downside, though, would be waiting five, long months to run in uncertain conditions. It might be warm and humid, like it was in 2010. I’m not sure I can wait that long.

There’s also a status aspect to it. Qualifying for Boston while at the high end of an age group is kind of cool.

Now that I’ve finished my half marathon training for the year, I am positioned to transition to the full marathon. “The Declaration” has been suspended for one more race.

I’ve narrowed my races to one of four options. All have their pros and cons.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon
1/20/2013 – It’s large, point-to-point, probably cool temperatures, and almost no humidity. The cons: it’s not entirely flat; it’s in Phoenix; and well … did I mention it’s in Phoenix?

Maui Oceanfront Marathon
1/20/2013 – It’s point-to-point, flat, whales, Hawaii. The cons: it will be warm and humid, and it’s small. There aren’t many finishers, which means not a lot of motivation or crowd support.

Gran Canaria Maratón
1/20/2013 – It’s flat, Spanish, and an island. The cons: it will be warm and humid. It’s small. It’s a two loop marathon, which might be tough running the same segment twice. It’s also unclear whether it’s a Boston Qualifier.

Miami Marathon
1/27/2013 – It’s flat, large, Spanish influence, Miami. The cons: it will be warm and humid.

I wrote about how my friend asked me “what’s next.” Now that I’d achieved the PR in the half, did I feel let down. The answer I had in the back of my mind, but didn’t want to reveal was, “No. There’s one more goal.”

I will be a Boston Qualifier.

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