2016 Goals: I Qualified For Boston.... Now What?

April 2017. 15 more months until I get to run the race I've been obsessing over since I ran my first marathon back in April. I have to say, while I was ecstatic after walking away from the finish line at CIM, my other thought was, "Now what do I do?... What's my goal now?" I thought I would feel complete in my running career after qualifying for Boston. I kept telling myself I wasn't going to run anymore marathons after I qualified. After taking 23 minutes off my time in 3 marathons, and qualifying for Boston by over 9 minutes, what do I do now? 

I'm not going to stop running marathons that's for sure! I started researching what other marathons I could time qualify for. The idea of the big city races - New York, Chicago, London - sound amazing. But the thought of trying to get in through a lottery, is not appealing to me. I've found that most of the large races save slots for time qualifiers, and here are a few that have taken my interest:

  • Chicago - had a time qualifying standard for all women, any age, of 3:45 in 2015.
  • London - had a time qualifying standard for women age 18-40 of 3:45.
  • New York - women age 18-34 need a 3:13 marathon or 1:32 half marathon. This particular race has a very limited amount of spots for time qualifiers, which explains the extremely competitive requirement.
  • Berlin - women under age 45 need a sub 3 hour marathon.

I've already time qualified for London and Chicago, so I'm excited to have the option of going to both. Berlin is  a long way off for me, and it might be impossible. Based on my current PR's at other distances, I'm pretty positive that I'm capable of a 3:15 marathon. New York is right there if that's true. The fact that New York allows you to qualify with a half marathon finish time as well is appealing. I'm very close to that half marathon standard with a current PR of 1:34.

All of this research for more competitive races led me to think about my goals, or what I prefer to call an action plan, for 2016. My goal is generally to get faster and stronger, but I wanted to my yearlong goals to have a broader scope and compliment each other.

Getting a Coach
I've decided to allow myself to be coached. My dear friend Mark (@runnermarx) has offered to coach me. I'm extremely proud of myself for improving my marathon time by 23 minutes in a little over 7 months, and for qualifying for the most prestigious race in the country on my own. But let's face it - if I want to get better and run smart, I need guidance. With the LA Marathon just 10 weeks after CIM, I had to begin the student role right away. I'm just 3 weeks in and let me tell you, it's nice not to have to think of your own workout, and to open myself up to things I'd never do if someone wasn't telling me I had to (strides, track workouts, kettle bells). I'll keep you updated on how this progresses in the coming weeks. Being coached for such a short time has helped me realize my next action plan.... well, let's just say my coach made it clear to me this had to happen if I wanted to run forever.

Practicing strides with my coach

Practicing strides with my coach

Racing Selectively
2015 was the year of races. I was racing at least once a month, and in some cases, I wasn't that stoked to run in them (i.e. Surf City Half because it's never been a good race for me). In 2016, I'm going to be very selective about the races I enter and how they will benefit my running goals. Whether its a good destination race, a challenging course, a training race, or a race that will help me reach my time goals, I'm trying to make sure there is intention in every race and that I'm not overdoing it. I've already got quite a few races lined up for 2016, but all of them have a purpose thus far.

Improve Training - No Excuses
I ended every marathon thinking that I should've done more of something - weight lifting, speed work, cross training. I always felt I could've done more in general. I struggle with the balance of life as we all do. Full time job, long commute, family, friends, significant other, training, blogging. It becomes easy to skip the 4:30 am wake up call to lift weights because my BFF was in town and we hit happy hour the night before. I'm trying to make smarter choices in 2016 that won't sacrifice training. I know this will be difficult because, while I strive to succeed, I never want running to be something I don't love or that keeps me from the other things I do love. My ultimate goal is to reach my potential, and I know the only way to do it is to realize I can train harder than I have in the past. Being coached will make this a lot easier to tackle because all of my workouts will be set up for me.

That's it. Just 3 running/life goals for 2016. I'm hoping this keeps my drive and love for running alive in this next year and that I have another 365 days full of positive experiences like I did in 2015.

What are your goals for 2016?

J