• Brent Beckham

Boston Bound... sort of

Updated: Jul 19, 2020


New Running Goal

In a previous Instagram post (link below), I talked about my next goal to be a Boston Marathon Qualifying Time.

Recap

To recap, this means a 3 hour marathon, holding 6:52 minute miles. Definitely doable but going to take some work to get there. I have a training plan in the works.


Shout out to the BAA site for the level 4 training program (https://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/enter/training/levelfour) that I plan to make my own.


Right now I am on a fluid schedule in my mind that is based on previous training plans I have completed. This looks like the following:

  • 3 days together of medium distance and one of those days is speedwork;

  • 1 day of cross training or rest;

  • The next 2 days for longer runs;

  • Ending with a day of rest.

Then rinse and repeat the following week, increasing distance/changing up speed sessions/etc. week over week.


So why this goal, and why now?

Well a number of years ago, this was actually a goal of mine. Well by a number of years, it's more like 5-6 years. At that time a single marathon (the 2012 Chicago Marathon) had been my longest run and I was training for the 2014 Cleveland Marathon (CLE Marathon). Not going to lie, training was going great for the CLE Marathon:

  • I got a personal best (PB) in a 10 miler (actually my only 10 mile race) and 3rd overall in that race (can't find the link to the race results but believe it was through Western Reserve Racing).

  • I also got a PB in my 5km AND got 7th overall (https://www.hermescleveland.com/roadracing/results/2015/HYLAND.htm#%205). I actually tied for 6th based on time to complete the course versus gun time, but who's keeping track, ha! ;) It was a bit of a shock to run that fast while training for an ultra...


Wait a second. Ha! I'm confusing the years.


The 5k PB was 2015 Hyland Hy-5, while training for my first 50k that August. Well in either case, training was going great for both!


Back to the CLE Marathon...

I was incorporating a lot of speedwork and the 10 miler was a huge boost to confidence, though overly so looking back on it now. I got it in my head that I was just going to "go for it" for the actually marathon. That was my race plan, plan and simple. I have come to learn there is a bit more to racing a marathon. One of the best things I've heard in multiple sources (Runner's World, if I recall, and I forget the other articles) is to hold a consistent pace the entire marathon. Weeell, that's not what I had in mind or knew to do for Cleveland. Come race day, with my wife and best friend in the field for the half marathon, I took off at a blistering pace, passing a lot of other marathoners and half marathoners through the beginning and back the split for the two distances. I actually started a ways back from the either 6:50 or 7:00 minute per mile pace group but ended up closing in on them around mile 15, and that's when things started to fall apart. Through 13 miles I was hold around a 6:40 or 6:50 minute mile (from what I remember) and PB'ed my half marathon, clocking a 1:37 (to which I have not matched and only come close with a 1:39 in an actual race). Then my legs completely started to give after a big hill where the big out and back occurred on course, so down, up, turn around, and down, up again the other way. Going into mile 18 I was already run walking due to my legs spasming when trying to run. Trying everything from food to water to my coconut water, I just still could not get anywhere back to a solid running pace to complete the marathon. So I continued my run walk all the way to the finish. My wife got so worried, while waiting with my best friend and his now wife (who came to cheer us all on), that she walked the course in reverse from the finish to come find me. Finally she did and I went on to explain what happened and the state I was currently in at that point. She gave me lots of encouragement and it really did help seeing her out there. :) Eventually I finished and somehow managed to run in the finish. Granted it could've been just a final 10's of feet/meters, ha!


Though that epic failure taught me a lot. It taught me that a plan is key, more than just winging it and trying to run as hard as possible for as long as you can and hope to hold on in order to finish. It also taught me that I was...well it showed me what I was capable of at least through 13.1 miles.


Back to Boston

Which brings me back to Boston. All through that training cycle I recall looking at BAA's website and the Boston qualifier time, which I think was a 3:07 or maybe 3:14, and thinking about what it would take to obtain it. I cannot recall fully if even back then I was more about the time then the race itself or not. Though now, for me, it is about obtaining or surpassing that time, which is now 3 hours flat. I do know that I set the goal to somehow obtain this goal before or by my 35th birthday, which is the high end of the 18-35 age group that requires a 3 hour marathon to qualify for Boston. I figured if I was going to qualify, might as well do it with the hardest time. So now being 34 and going off to accomplish a lot of awesome trail and ultra running since then, it now comes time to go for this goal. It also helps that being back in the States has changed my training ground. We've gone from hilly, mountainous national park of the Dandenong Ranges to the relatively flat suburbia of a Detroit, MI suburb. So it only seems natural to return to road running and the road marathon. Plus, training for an ultra (where I still have goals: another 100k attempt, 100 miler, etc.) just doesn't seem feasible feasible to properly train for at this point in time. Once we venture south to, stay with my parents in, South Carolina will trails and hills be more easily accessible. But that's getting ahead of myself. Now it's about focusing on this goal and using my surroundings to my advantage.


I should also note regarding the Boston Marathon itself, at this point in time I am not compelled to run the race itself.


Sure would it be an awesome event and a great experience? Most definitely!


Would I reconsider it if I actually got into the race and not just qualify for it? Most likely!


Though, I just don't feel like I need to do the actual race as some sort of validation for myself. Maybe not saying that correctly, but for me obtaining that qualifying time will be all the validation I need to say I am a fast marathoner and can do this time.


This goal is also a departure from my more recent ultra goals. The more ultras I did the more I thoroughly enjoyed a good hill or mountain climb or being out in the woods for hours, often by myself, through whatever the weather decided to throw at me. Though it's be a long time, if ever, that I've really focused in on actively improving my times in a given race. So it's a new approach and goal, but a fun one all the same!


Definitely looking forward to it and what it has to bring in the weeks and months to come!


Logistics and Next Steps

Oh, almost forgot! I haven't even decided if I'm going to go for this time in a Boston qualifying marathon or non-qualifying marathon, or just figure out a course and go for it on my own, unofficially. My wife has encouraged me to research and pick a race, which I agreed is a good idea as it gives me a definitive date to work towards. Not to mention all the other bonuses of doing an organising race (for example, aid stations, cheering sections, etc.). Not to say I need any of that, as I could figure out a way to have a looped course where I can setup my own aid station with water and homemade gels. I've also always been a lone runner for long runs. I feel it helps build you mentally as much and if not more than physically, as you have to build and work on that internal motivation to keep you going, versus relying on a running buddy or group run. Not to say either of those are bad, as I love and enjoy both, but I think it's important to be prepared for anything, like running for miles/km's on end by yourself in an actually race. Then if you have prepared alone and you pick up a running buddy in a race or feed off the energy of the supporters and cheer sections then that's a huge added bonus for your race.


Alright, enough on all of that for now. Likely to come back and add more as more pops into my head.


Happy Running! ✌🏻😊

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