Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Road to Boston

I think I've got it all figured out.

Every man needs a Thanksgiving project. Mine was plotting out Allie's training schedule for her first marathon, and mine for qualifying for Boston.

Buckle in folks. This is going to get absurdly intricate. Midway through, you'll likely think I'm nuts and obsessive. And you'll probably be right. But at the end you might well find yourself saying, I think this guy's on to something.

Alright. Enough caveats. Let's begin.

First, Allie. For her plan, I picked two really cool races that are renowned for being great for first timers.

The first is the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon. It is held in conjunction with the world famous Grandma's Marathon, which I will run. Both are on July 21. We will combine these races with a mid-summer camping and canoeing trip.

The second is The Portland Marathon. By all accounts, this is the best first-timer marathon in the United States. I'll run it with her, and I'll do all the long runs leading up to it with her.

This will all be part of the first two phases of my Road to Boston.

The goal of the first phase is to build a mileage base and to get used to the distance (and to run a few of the really cool marathons!). The first phase ends with the Grandma's Marathon. I won't do any speed work leading up to that one. I'll just keep doing the Galloway run/walk method, and I'll finish three -- Carlsbad, Austin and Grandma's -- without any consideration of time.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, the reason I'm doing Carlsbad and Austin is because the Galloway plan calls for running a marathon before the marathon, so if I'm doing a marathon, I night as well actually do one, and get a shirt, instead of running around KC in the dead of winter. And, like I said, I'm running Grandma's because it looks super cool.

After that, I'm going to do three in the fall: Portland, New York City and Memphis.

I know what you're thinking. Three?!?!

Wait. There's logic to this.

Galloway also has a training plan for folks who have a time goal. In this one, you run a marathon and a 29-mile run before the actual marathon. This is the training plan I'll use in getting ready to qualify for Boston at a marathon in March 2010. So I figure it might be a good idea to try it to get a feel for the mileage, and also to shoot for an in-between time goal.

See, right now I'm running consistently at a pace to finish in about 4:30 or 4:40. To qualify for Boston, I'll need a 3:20. So I figure it'd be good to try to go sub-4:00 first. I'll shoot for that at Memphis.

So... In preparing for Boston, I'll run Portland real slow. Then I'll do New York plus three miles, also slow. Then Memphis.

During the build up to Memphis, I'll start working in some speed work. This will consist of weekly tempo runs, short at first, then building up to 3 miles or so (still pretty short). Along with this, I'll do one day a week of hill sprints and dabble with some short track workouts of 400 at a 3:20 pace (100 seconds). Lastly, I'll start doing mile repeats a couple of Sundays a month, with the miles run at 30 seconds or so faster than the 8:30-min a mile necessary to break 4 hours.

Then I rest for December 2009, running an easy maintenance schedule.

For 2010, it'll be all about training for three specific races.

First, the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. This is a mid-summer classic in Kansas City. My goal for this will be 1:40 -- the exact pace I'll need to go for the marathon.

To acheive this goal, I'll do a modified version of Galloway's schedule for a time-goal marathon. Basically it'll be the same, with the longest run being a 20 miler (no 23, 26 or 29).

After that, I'll take a couple of weeks to recover before embarking on an eight-week 5k training plan. The goal here will be to break 20 minutes. This will consist of shorter long runs and just a little more track work at a good clip. The objective here is to increase speed.

After the 5k, and a couple of weeks recovery, I'll go for one more round on the Galloway time-goal marathon plan, this time picking up the pace on the mile repeats and the tempo runs so that they correlate with the pace necessary to break 3:20 - 7:38 per mile.

As before, this'll have three marathons leading up to the Boston qualifier -- Disney, Surf City and, finally, Napa Valley.

Why Napa Valley?

Ah. Here's the real beauty of it. The part where it starts looking like fate.

For one, early March was the the right conclusion for all the interlocking training plans. Now, there are a number of reputable marathons held at that time of year, most notably Los Angeles and Little Rock. But both of these are quite hilly. So I checked out Napa Valley, thinking I'd find more of the same. But wouldn't you know it? The course is a point-to-point with an overall drop of 340 feet! Perfect Boston qualifier!!

And, to top it off, Allie has wanted to visit wine country for the longest time!!

What's more, it would be my 12th marathon (or 10th on the Road to Boston). Nice even numbers.

So, yeah. Fate.

So there you have it. Still think I'm crazy?

Perhaps I am. Especially if you look at the spread sheet I spent all day making, complete with to-the-second 400-meter repeats to be run on August 28, 2009.

Of course, it's not set in stone. There'll be adjustments along the way. But I think this is a pretty solid outline for a 2.25-year plan to a lofty but reachable (knock wood) goal.

Or at least a fun project for Thanksgiving Day.

You decide.


Heidi said...

The running details whizz over my head, but Grandma's should be cool. Duluth in the summer will be nice. I love it up there. My dad used to do a rollerblading marathon that I think followed the Grandma's course. Are you planning to go to the Boundary Waters?

joe said...

Yeah, I was thinking the boundary waters. I've heard they're really nice.