Race Week: Boston Marathon Goals and Race Plan

Boston is here. We fly out of LAX tomorrow morning, and I'm really not as nervous as I thought I would be... well, maybe a little nervous. But it's almost time, and I really have to trust my training and let it go. I've let a lot go over this past training cycle and realized what held me back when training for Chicago was fear. Fear that I wouldn't ever be able to do what I set out to do. That I would never be better than I was when I first qualified for Boston. While I've still got some very big goals, I'm no longer afraid of them. I've changed my mindset from "I can't" to "I can" or "I get to" do this, and it's helped a ton.

I've put together my race goals. I always set a few goals for myself for a race so I don't walk away completely disappointed if I don't get my A goal. After such an awesome training cycle, I'd be lying if I said that I will not be super upset if I don't hit my A goal.

A Goal: 3:15 finish
Because this is Boston, my A goal is a 3:15. Why do I say that? The late start, the initial downhill, the difficult aid stations, the 4 hills from mile 16-21. Yes, this is a difficult course and while I've read tons of articles on how to run this race the right way, I just don't know how my body is going to deal with all of these factors that can work against me. And that's in addition to the fueling, weather, hydration difficulties runners already face.

B Goal: 3:10 finish
I trained for a 3:10. All of my speed workouts and marathon pace tempos were done at a 3:10 pace. It's pretty lofty in my mind to think I can take 10 minutes off my time in the first place, but even loftier to think I can do that at Boston. So, if I get anything faster than a 3:15, I'll lose my shit (hopefully after I finish and not before).

C Goal: PR
Anything under a 3:20 will just confirm the last 16 weeks were not a waste.

D Goal: Finish and enjoy it
I think that running is fun, but I also think that marathons specifically are extremely hard. The time and effort that goes into being successful at this is insane when I look at it from the outside. So my D goal is to finish the race and maybe enjoy it. I have a hard time enjoying marathons unless I'm getting my A goal, so we'll see about this one.

Race Plan
As I mentioned, I've been reading A LOT about race strategy. I just think back to when I went into the Portland Marathon a little blind to the huge hill at mile 17 that demolished me because I didn't do my research, so I'm going with the idea that "knowledge is power" for this race.

I want to stay in the pack the first few miles of downhill. Going fast out of the gate can demolish me... and that's what all the articles say. I also think back to Portland when I took a downhill way too fast at mile 4 and ended up doing a 6:xx mile. Idiot. So I'm going to stick in the middle and go with it.

Mile 5-13 is where I'm going to settle into goal marathon pace, which for the majority of the race will be in the 7:20-7:30 range. The course flattens a bit and does some comfortable rolling.

Mile 13-16, I'm still going to hold my marathon pace, but hopefully closer to a 7:20 if I'm comfortable. Then come the hills.

Mile 17-21, I'm going to put my head down and focus on effort. I can lose pace here, but I need to save my legs for the last 5 miles. I'm hoping to maintain a sub 7:40 pace at least, but I'm going to stay in tune with my heart rate and breathing and how my muscles are feeling. This is where the burnout comes and a lot of people can end up walking if they don't take the hills into consideration. I'm also hoping they're really not as bad as everyone says they are (in my dreams, right?).

Mile 22-26. It's all heart here. Whatever I have left. I'm going to try and push to a 7:10 pace these last 4 miles. Everyone says you see the Citgo sign and think its over, but you still have to go another mile after you hit it, so I'm not going to look at it! I'm also going to try and not burst out in tears before the finish line. I'll save that for after.

To everyone who has supported me, read my blog, followed my Instagram, taken a chance on my coaching services the last few months, thank you. Thank you for believing in me and my ability to do this running thing that I love so much. I hope that, if nothing else, I've encouraged you to go after what you want, take chances, and work your ass off. Because that's how dreams come true, and my mantra is DREAM BIG.

J