The day before Boston registration opened, I had run Ventura Marathon to get a BQ (Boston Qualifying time). Though it was completely a flat course, it was a hard day for me, mostly because I was under-trained, but also the temperature warmed up, as forecasted.
It was a classic case of under-trained race. Cautious until half, feeling pretty good after the half, and paying for it after Mile 20. The plan was to follow a 3:20 finish pace leader and run at his/her pace. If s/he was an even pacer, it would have been about 7:40/minute all the way. If s/he planned on a negative split, it would have been slower first, then pick up the pace to recover from the slower pace. It turned out it didn’t matter, because they did not have a 3:20 finish pace leader! They had one for 3:15 (7:36/min pace) and 3:25 (7:49/min pace), but not 3:20. That’s pretty typical of my luck. Not feeling discouraged, I set out and kept at about 7:30 – 7:35/min pace, largely because there was a group of 10 or so, who were running at the pace. Running on Harbor Blvd., I was already feeling warm on the 6-mile stretch with nothing to block the sun. Though the sun was not high in the sky, I was worrying about the return trip. At the half, the temperature was warm enough to use the drinking water to cool off. But I kept the pace, feeling strong. I had forgotten about the tight calves and the right knee that have been bothering since my track meet. I was still able to calculate the prospective finish time and wondering if I could finish at around 3:15, though 3:15 page leader was nowhere in sight…
It was about 18 miles into the race when I started to feel tired. I had taken water at every water station and taken the energy block every 45 minutes, but the legs felt heavier and the air hot. At that time, I figured I could have still finished in 3:20 if I kept 8:00/min pace, which gave me encouragement. Thought BQ -5:00 would be still good, because I could register on Friday instead of waiting until the following Monday. Though it was a big incentive, by the time Mile 23 came, I could hardly keep 8:00/min. In fact, at one point, I felt a cramp coming on my right hamstring, so I stopped briefly and stretched. The rest of the way was not easy. It felt like I was running in 80F weather. I decided not to push too much so I wouldn’t end up with cramps or something serious. I thought of eating lobster in Boston, running the marathon course with familiar scene at the Wellesley, Newton and Boylston. Fortunately, I kept going and finished in 3:22:14. A BQ, not pretty BQ, but it would do.
Having skimmed through what people are saying about registration cut-off time, it gave me hope of getting accepted. BAA had announced the field size being 30,000, 80% of which is slated for qualified runners, as opposed to special or charity runners. Last year, it allowed around 25,000 qualified runners and the cut-off time was BQ -1:38. No one really knows how it will go this year, but I do hope my BQ -2:46 would be good enough to sneak in.BTW, Ventura Marathon is a really nice event. It’s small and everything is manageable. There are lots of helpful volunteers, and water stations were provided almost every 1.5 miles. If anyone wants a BQ, it is a great race to look into. Just watch out for and be prepared for a hot weather. Below is the elevation profile. As you can see, it is pretty flat!