Post-marathon thoughts & what's next (try to BQ?)

Still buzzed on my race, it's been hard to not register for another marathon. I was dying to run in the week immediately following Kentucky, but I took 7 days completely off from running and bike-commuted and went riding instead. I felt completely fine by Tuesday, which made my seven-ish days of rest even tougher. With the exception of two gnarly blisters on my right foot (the one that was wearing the older shoe) and some chafing from my capris and my sports bra, I was otherwise unscathed.

Re: My lackluster training and my big PR: I honestly don't know what to make of it. Throughout training, I was pretty open about the fact that I didn't think it was going that well. I never felt that confident, I knew I wasn't running the miles I had intended to run, and I definitely wasn't doing any workouts. Tempo run? I think I did one or two. Speedwork? Um...no.

That's why it's hard for me to reconcile the work I put in with the result I got. I know about "the Seven Year Rule," so I guess I'm in that stage where I'm getting faster without trying that hard. (?) I just don't really think of myself as a "runner," still.

That being said, I'm thinking ahead to what's next and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there's one big goal on my mind: qualifying for Boston. It's cliche, but it's what I want. I want to earn my spot, and I want to run Heartbreak Hill, and I want that finisher's jacket. It's my Olympics. I want to qualify because it's about as fast as I can probably ever dream of becoming. I want to qualify because just saying the words "I want to qualify" scares the crap out of me. 

The qualifying standard for my age group is 3:35 (3:34:59), so I'd need to take 10 minutes, 3 seconds off from my new 3:45:02 PR.

Before Kentucky, I thought I would definitely not run a marathon this fall. Now, I'm not so sure. While I hem and haw over it, here are my plans for the next month and a half:

  • May: I've been getting back into cycling. I registered for Cycle to Farm, a leisurely metric century with stops at local farms. They arranged to have the items you purchase sent ahead so you can pick up everything at the finish line. It's like a farmer's market on wheels. May is Bike Month, so it's likely that there are events and rides wherever you live. I'm going to make a goal to eat as many free Bike Month-related snacks as possible.
  • June: Like last year, we're packing up and heading out for a month this summer. James has archival work to do, and I'm grateful that my job enables me to work from anywhere, so in June we'll be in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Hungary. I've never been to Europe before, so even though I'm working I'm excited for even the more "boring" things, like sitting around with my laptop in a coffeeshop that isn't my office, nor one of the three or four coffeeshops I go to here. It doesn't quite feel real yet and I'm overwhelmed by how quickly it's approaching and how much I still have to do between now and then.

If I decide to do a fall marathon, I'll start re-building my base when I get back. Otherwise, I'll probably look ahead to a goal half marathon (likely the Bull City Race Fest).

All of my questions about qualifying for Boston

1. Do I think I can do it on my first try? 

I kind of think I can, which I know is naive. That's because I am still a running newb and therefore able to PR without even trying. I know I've been spoiled by that.

I suspect that shit will get real the more time I try to take off. The first 13 minutes I dropped from my time came pretty easy, but I'll have to work twice as hard for those second 13 minutes.

2. Am I willing to sacrifice?

I make some small sacrifices to accommodate my running, but they aren't anything like the sacrifices that are necessary to run more miles, actually go to the track, maybe start cross-training (??), and pay attention to what I eat (something I basically refuse to do, beyond not eating meat). 

3. Do I have the (physical, emotional) stamina for multiple attempts?

What scares me a little is how many runners whose blogs I read who have been trying to qualify for years. They train more than me and they're much faster than me. And yet, it often doesn't come together on race day. What will I do if this takes longer than one 18-week cycle? (Which it probably will...) What will I do if I get much, much faster than I am now but I still can't qualify? Will I be disappointed and will it ruin running for me?

4. Is it too soon?

Life lately

Life lately

I talked to a coach once about this when I was coach-curious. He said that when I'm in the 3:4x range I'm "within striking distance" and it's reasonable to train for 3:35. But everyone I know who has qualified has low 1:40 half marathon PRs. Is there even any sense in trying to qualify with a half time of 1:51?

5. Do I want to do this NOW now? 

My training didn't really come together. I wasn't really having fun. That's a red flag, right? It isn't that I didn't like running and didn't want to improve. My real priorities were my work and my family, and I was beginning to resent that training for this race pulled me away from the two places I'd rather be. 

I admit, it's been pretty nice not running these past two weeks. I think I ran only twice, and it was blah. Instead I've been walking, riding bikes, and riding Hudson. I'm not in conflict with myself on a daily basis. I am reading an 800-page book and writing in a journal. I'm ready to run more, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to train.

That basically sums up my predicament. I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially from those of you who are trying to qualify (or already qualified). What are the, like, requirements for starting a big goal like this? How do you know you're ready?