Saturday, April 23, 2011

On the trail again

Yes, it really has been 5 weeks since I've run.  Not a step since March 20 until this morning.  My biggest excuse is tax season.  I have been going in to work an hour earlier and staying later.  Some nights I got off at 10 and reported back to work at 7.  (Just so you know, I wasn't required to work those hours; I chose to do so.)  So I didn't have a lot of time or energy to get a run in.  Now tax season is over, I'm back to a normal work schedule, and the too much work excuse won't work for me any more.  Now I just have to get my laziness tamed. . . .

It was nice getting out this morning.  I returned to Oak Cliff Nature Preserve.  I shared the trail with a bright red cardinal, some other little birds, a bunny, and a kitty who seemed surprise to see me.  After an hour or so I started to see some mountain bikers, but they are typically courteous and don't run me down.  The trails run through dense woods with the trees full and green, then pop out onto meadows blooming with wildflowers.

I ran a slow 6.6 miles, which was plenty.  I'm sure I'll be sore in the morning.  It was pretty warm, and the humidity felt like a coat weighing heavy on my shoulders.  It's just a hint of the hot Texas running coming up this summer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Boston Marathon

Today is Patriots' Day, which probably means nothing to you unless you live in Massachusetts or you're a marathon runner.  The 115th Boston Marathon was run today, as it is every Patriots' Day, with a new course record and a tight, competitive finish.  The Kenyans ruled the day (surprise!) with Geoffrey Mutai taking first in 2:03:02, followed four seconds later by his countryman Moses Mosop.  They both beat Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie's world record of 2:03:59.  (However, their records may not qualify as world records due to course certification.)  A 16 mph tailwind helped the runners along.  American Ryan Hall beat his PR of 2:06:17 by finishing in 2:04:58.  Just to keep these times in perspective, the leaders were averaging 4:41 minutes/mile.  Most of us can't conceive of running that fast for even100 yds (that would take 15 seconds) much less 26.2 miles.  Congratulations to these winners and all the runners today!
Mutai crossing the line with Mosop not far behind.
On a personal note, one of my key running goals, since I started running, is to qualify for and run in the Boston Marathon.  Boston is the only recreational marathon that requires entrants to run a qualifying time to enter.  Although my preference is to run ultramarathons on trails, I would still like to experience the history and pageantry of Boston.  It's like Mecca for runners.  So my plan has been to run one road marathon each year, with specific training toward a BQ time. In 2009, I came within 15 minutes of my qualifying time of 2:20 (QTs vary by age and gender.).  That's not exactly one little push at the end, but I felt like I could get there.  Then in 2010, I stayed on a great pace for 1/2 the marathon, but ran out of gas and ended up taking a little over 4 hrs to finish.  That was frustrating, but I knew my training hadn't been what it should have been, and still felt like I had a 3:20 marathon in me.

But now the Boston Athletic Association, raising the bar even farther, has lowered qualifying times by 5:59.  So for 2012, I would have to run a 3:20:59 to qualify (there was a built in 59 second grace period).  But for 2013, I would have to run 3:15:00 (no grace period).  To make matters worse, there will be a rolling registration period, so runners who have faster than the BQ time can register first; the slowest runners in the group might not have an opportunity to register until 2 weeks later.

I understand the organizers' dilemma, trying to maintain a great race and being as fair as possible with the entry process.  Says the race director, "We want people to get better, from a competitive perspective."  So, Mr. Race Director, you leave me no choice: get faster I will!  And if I don't get that 3:15:00 in the next couple of years, I'll see if I can crank out a 3:25 with my 45-50 year-old body!  (or a 3:30 at 50-54, or a 3:40 at 55-59, etc.)