9 Reasons I'll Qualify for Boston This Time and 5 Reasons I Might Not

The Lehigh Valley Marathon is in 48 hours. Actually, in 49 hours I hope to be finishing it, in a Boston Marathon Qualifying time of 3:15:59 or better. This is my third shot at it, after an encouraging 3:18 two years ago and a somewhat disappointing 3:23 last year (both at the Harrisburg Marathon).

I've been asked what my chances are and I've said I've got no reason to think I'm necessarily fitter this time around, but I have trained quite differently this time. In that spirit - and because taper madness has rendered me fairly useless for the regular duties of the day - I'm offering up 9 Reasons I'll Qualify for Boston This Time and 5 Reasons I Might Not...

The good news...
1) I've put in more miles. Mind you, not dramatically more. My peak month last year was 182 and this year it was 191. However, my peak month this year came just last month, whereas in my earlier plan it was three months prior to the race. Common sense says to be a faster runner, run more. Also, last year I had 3 fairly heavy months and felt like I might've peaked a little early. This year, I had one moderate month followed by two much heavier months.
2) The addition of medium long runs. Last year, I speculated that never going beyond six miles aside from my long run was a bad thing. In last year's plan, I went eight miles or more 17 times. This year, I've done 32 runs of eight miles or more. Truth is, this is the single biggest reason I have faith that I can do it this time.
3) Running further in long runs. In previous plans I'd never gone beyond 20 miles and truth is, I doubt it matters. But in my goal to do things differently I took 1 run to 21 miles and another to 22. While I don't know if it made a difference physically, I will say my mental fear of going to 26 isn't quite as strong as previous years.
4) Pace miles. In previous plans, I did some tempos and intervals. Problem was, I often struggle with those workouts and they didn't always go well or would ding me up too much. This time, following the Hal Higdon Intermediate II plan, I did a ton of marathon pace miles, training myself - as well as possible - to get used to 7:23 miles. Going into this race, I've run far more miles at goal pace than ever before.
5) Running tired. In previous plans, I treated my long run with reverence, going into it fresh as possible. On the Higdon Int. II plan, you do your long runs the day after a medium long run. That's not always easy, but I think it builds mental and physical toughness.
6) A better diabetic. The problem with being a 3:18 marathoner trying to become a 3:15 marathoner is that you don't have a lot of extra time to test your blood sugar. For this reason, I went on the Dexcom continuous glucose monitoring system several months ago, and it's been awesome. My first marathon without CGM went perfectly and I finished with a blood sugar of 110 or so. My second one, I tested at mile 20 and was over 250. On Sunday, I'll know where I am at all times.
7) The course. My previous two marathons were in Harrisburg, which should be considered a very good course, but not a great course. There's a fairly challenging rolling section that comes at the 19 mile mark - a tough time to get challenged. The Lehigh Valley Marathon mostly runs a river bank, aside from a few small detours and is a point-to-point course running west to east (the same direction as the breeze usually travels). While I haven't seen or run the course, it should be better.
8) Hammer time. On the advice of a local triathlete, I've switched to Hammer Nutrition products over the past year and have been very impressed with them. In addition to them being stable and predictable in regards to my blood sugars, I think they provide better and more consistent energy than other products. I'll be doing the marathon with a multi-hour bottle of Perpetuem as well as higher concentration flasks of Perpetuem in case my blood sugar trends low. In addition, I'm taking their Race Ready caps (sodium phosphate) for 4 days prior to the race and will supplement with electrolyte tabs if need be.
9) Lance juice. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I've recently started taking FRS energy drinks and chews. I'm taking a high dose (1000mg per day) for the four days prior to the race.
*** Side note: the combination of FRS, Race Ready Caps and low mileage during taper week has me absolutely bouncing off walls, but in a good way. I'd describe my mood this week as more hyper but a little less (emphasis: little) grumpy than other taper weeks.
All of that being said, 3:15 isn't guaranteed. Here's what I'm worried about:
1) No VO Max or LT training. Though I planned it that way, I haven't done any training faster than marathon pace in my entire plan. Zero. When I ran my 3:18, I did the FIRST plan, which has an LT and VO Max workout every week. Mind you, I wasn't good at them, but at least I did them.
2) The course. On paper, the course looks better, but we all know how that goes.
3) CGM failure. It's unlikely my continuous glucose monitor will fail during the race, but it could. If it does, I'll need to stop and test my blood sugar or wing it. Either way, I'll lose time.
4) Stupidity. The goal is to go out at 7:23 miles. Last year, the goal was to go out at 7:15, but I felt so good, I knocked off five or six 7:10's thinking it wouldn't be a big deal. By mile 20, I wanted someone to pick me up and drive me home. This year, I truly want to be strong enough to run 7:23's consistently, especially for the first half.
5) You never know what race day will bring and I don't have a lot or margin for error. More than anything, I need all of the factors in my favor to be in my favor on race day. I'm trying to shave three minutes off my time and it wouldn't take much to derail me from my plan.

My prediction: 3:13:35... The medium long runs keep me strong and I'm smart to go slow enough for the first half. I've never felt better in the latter stages of the race and I pick up a little time in the last 4 miles.

Those are the factors. Feel free to put your prediction times below. Winner gets... well the winner gets nothing but bragging rights. This isn't ChicRunner or Nitmos for cryin' out loud. Nobody gives me nothing to give away.

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