Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Boston Marathon Journey

I am not a big fan of running. I love watching runners. I enjoy watching competitive runners on television. I enjoy the big sprints to the finish-line by Olympic-Distance triathletes.

I began long-distance running in 2003, having never gone beyond one 10km race in my life. I had assumed a middle-distance running career in my youth; mostly self-trained and driven by personal motivations. I studied all I could about running and runners. I lived and breathed Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovette, Jim Fixx (The Complete Book of Running), Dr. George Sheehan, Abebe Bikila, Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, fartlek, interval training, cross-country, Adidas, et al. I was obsessed about running, doing it almost daily while pursuing an education.

I excelled in running although it was more a means to an end: To finish the session as soon as I could. My mantra was ‘Get it over’.

In 2004, I began doing triathlons and my first marathon. I was hooked on both. No, I did not enjoy running but I loved running faster and earning Personal Bests (PB) and Personal Records (PR).
The cool weather (end-winter) in July on the Gold Coast is conducive for a BQ/PB.
My first marathon yielded a 4:11; my second was 4:24 (with my first and only attack of ITB syndrome). That was when I discovered the need for deep-tissue massage before races. A spate of sub-4 hour marathons followed when I completed the Bangkok Marathon under the elusive 4-hour mark. When I earned a 3:36 in Singapore and 3:37 in Berlin (2010), I knew I had the capacity and capability to earn a BQ on my flip-side of 40 years.

I qualified for Boston Marathon in 2011 at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon (SCHKM). I clocked 3 hours 29 minutes and 59 minutes, which put me within one minute of the qualifying time of my age-group (45-49 years). With my first BQ, I applied for the lottery and was declined.

My second attempt to earn a BQ at the fast course in Berlin Marathon 2012 was marred by a hairline toe fracture two months before. I was diagnosed with that painful symptom during Ironman Switzerland, and I hobbled to an uncomfortable 4:00 finish. And, that was that.
Minutes after clocking my second BQ of 3:16 at GCAM2013.
My second BQ (and third attempt at a BQ) was at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM), where I clocked 3:16. I was eight minutes within the revised BQ of less than 3:25:00. I also improved my PB/BQ by 13 minutes on my ‘Run Less, Run Faster’ approach: 3-4 running sessions of 10-21km each, supplemented by a triathlon diet (cycling and swimming). I applied for Boston marathon 2014 and was accepted into the 118th edition. Despite strong objections from naysayers that it would not be possible on such a meagre running diet, I achieved it. It is important to strongly believe in your ability, training plan, performance, and be focused to accomplish the seemingly impossible. What is deemed ‘impossible’ might be ‘unrealistic goals’ at one time.

My next goal is to earn a stronger BQ for the 120th edition of Boston Marathon. A performance near-3 hours would be deeply satisfying. I will begin serious training for it after completing one marathon (within Ironman Lanzarote) on 23 May. A narrow recovery and fitness training of seven weeks, will make it highly challenging after my 19th Ironman attempt to hold less than 4:30/km throughout the July 2015 race.

I will share more of my Boston Marathon journey shortly.

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