How This Type 1 Diabetic Qualified for the Boston Marathon

Official results haven't been posted, yet, but yesterday I finished the Bob Potts Marathon in 3:17:30 - 2.5 minutes faster than I needed to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Though Boston's new registration process means I might not get to actually run, I can't control that; all I can control is my time, so I am thrilled beyond belief to chase down a goal I've had since I started running again five years ago. In addition, this was my fastest marathon, ever.. another great surprise. How did it happen? A lot of things came together:

1) Ultra-success. In March I did my first 50 miler. That race had me so scared that I trained like a fiend, with 5 runs of four hours of more. Those weeks and months of high mileage gave me a higher base than I'd ever experienced before. In addition, running a 50 mile race is the simplest way I've learned to not fear the marathon distance. I used to hit the 10 mile mark and think, "Holy cow, 16 miles left????" but that never crossed my mind yesterday. True, I worried about my pace, but not once about the distance.

2) Flexibility. I had never planned to do a spring marathon. The idea all along was to do the Ultra in March and get fast for Chicago in the fall. But when I did a 5k 3 weeks after the ultra and PR'd, I realized I might be able to pull together a good build, with the help of a great coach.

3) A great coach. I am blessed to be coached by the most successful diabetic runner ever. She was the one who gave me the plan to get through the ultra, and was also the one who figured out a mini taper plan to get me to the marathon line sharp and healthy. We didn't do too much - added in some light speed work during the week and a few challenging long runs - but it was just the right amount.

4) The ability to learn from others. I'm not hardly the first diabetic to qualify for Boston. According to my back of the napkin math, I'm the 7th of the 15 runners on the Team Type 1 running team to do so. Plus, women like Anne (TT1 cycling team) and guys like Jerry have proven it can be done. They've taught me so much, as have guys like Ryan and Gary. Every time I read a blog post or speak to one of these fine diabetic athletes, I learn something.

5) The ability to learn from myself. Missy and I stole a page from the ultra plan that I think worked well. The week before the ultra, I did a 5 hour, very slow run. People I told this to thought it was crazy that I wasn't tapering more. Last year, prior to a 3:26 marathon, I did an 18 mile run the week before, but there were 10 miles of decent effort in it, and I think it left me a bit tired. This year, we copied the ultra plan, doing the same 18 miles as last year, but doing it easy. I went to the line rested and confident.

6) Confidence & relaxation. Unlike other marathons, I hadn't been obsessing about this one for months. On the contrary, I only had about 3 weeks where it was my training focus. Rather than training specifically for it, my attitude was more, "Hey, I'm in great shape. Let's go do a really hard workout and see what happens."

7) Blood sugar control. Like most marathons, I didn't stop to test once. I was 146 at the beginning and 105 at the end. But the only way you can do that is by testing a LOT in training... every hour on my long runs. That helped me devise a nutrition and insulin plan. From there, you go for it.

8) The ability to ignore technology. I love my CGM, but I've learned that the more stressful the environment, the less likely it is to be trustworthy, so just prior to the race, I put all of the alarms on silent. In this case, it was a brilliant move. My CGM incorrectly showed I had been between 200-350 the entire race. Had I trusted it, I would've bolused and run low.

9) An awesome crew. I've often said that I'm the best morning person in the house and I suck at it, and that's so true. My wife could've thought of a 100 better things to do on a Sunday morning than watch me chase unicorns at a marathon, but there she and the kids were, waiting for me at the 17 mile mark, just when things were getting dicey. They gave me a great pick-me-up and cheered like freaks when I came to the finish line ahead of my goal.

10) Learning from my Hammer nutrition experience. Last year for this race, I used Perpetuem and Endurolytes, rationalizing that the extra protein would come in handy at the end. But one of the things I learned from one of the Team Type 1 runners at the Ultra-Fest was that he didn't force protein on himself because his body craved the carbs more. I first experimented with this in the Ultra and liked it. For this race, I did something similar, taking a little HammerGel every 3.5 miles, but no protein. In addition, I had Endurolytes, Antifatigue Caps and Endurance Amino, just as I had for the ultra.

11) Gotta be the shoes. I don't know if my Newtons truly made me faster for this marathon, but I do know this: I don't know the last time I missed a run for an injury. No shin issues. No knees issues. Nothing. And the reality is, if you can get the miles in, you're going to be faster. And I got all the miles in.

12) A great course. Though crowds were light and a crushed gravel path isn't fast, the Bob Potts Marathon was recently named one of the fastest in the nation, due to having a minimal amount of turns and virtually no hills.

So that's that - after five marathons, I've qualified for the Boston Marathon; something I've wanted to do very badly. Something I almost gave up on several times, and something I thought could possibly never happen. And I only needed 12 special things to happen to make it so.

For you math nerds, here are my splits. My plan was to do 5 x 7:45, 15 x 7:30, 6.2 x 7:38. That said, the 7:30's came real easy at the beginning and were followed by a nice run of 7:20s. Things only got a bit dicey around the 21 mark, but I knew at that point the only thing that could kill me was a catastrophic failure, so I allowed the pace to lag a little bit, so long as I held it together:

7:22
7:40
7:35
7:37
7:32
7:20
7:20
7:20
7:22
7:23
7:27
7:26
7:21
7:21
7:15
7:15
7:21
7:26
7:31
7:40
7:26
7:54
7:41
7:48
8:02
7:57

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