After having completed two Ironmans, I’ve finally decided to do a marathon that isn’t precluded by a 3.8km swim and 180km bike ride. But why?
Its been a few years now since I started racing triathlons, and having raced Ironman twice people sort of just assume that I’ve run a proper marathon, or what many triathletes refer to as an “open marathon”, AKA a marathon not precluded by an obscenely long swim and exhaustive bike ride. However I haven’t in fact run a full open marathon. I’ve run my share of half marathons, and I’m more than familiar with the throbbing in your legs that comes with mile after mile of pounding the pavement, but until now the marathon hasn’t really been on my radar.
That all sort of changed last October. After a particularly good September for running when I was able to pack in lots of miles simply because I enjoyed it, I managed to beat a PB (personal best) that I’d been chasing after for years. That PB was beating the 1h30min mark for the half marathon. For elite, and even local fast guys and girls, thats not crazy fast, but its pretty quick and it got the wheels turning in my head that maybe it was time for a crack at the marathon.
Qualifying for Boston is possible, certainly not probable. And I’m good with that…
Of course it can’t be that simple. Not for me anyways. I can’t just go run a marathon and see how it plays out. Because going sub 1:30 in a half marathon puts you squarely in a position where a 3:05 marathon is a distant, yet possible goal. And for a male aged 20-35, 3:05 is the magic number that allows you to throw your name into the hat for the Boston Marathon. So I figure, go big or go home. Try and qualify for the Boston Marathon.
The task is certainly daunting. Why would I have the audacity to think that I could take a swing at a BQ during my first open marathon? Well for me personally, Boston itself doesn’t matter nearly as much as the challenge and journey to get there. Right now, for me, the BQ isn’t really an easy goal. Qualifying for Boston is possible, not probable. And I’m good with that.
You learn a lot about yourself in races like Ironman (I tried to capture a bit of the feeling in a blog post once). And one of the reasons that I both love and hate Ironman is the pressure that it puts on you personally. Any triathlete, any racer, or any serious athlete in general will tell you all about the anxiety that you feel the night before a big race. The night before the race is often a mix of forced calm and suppressed nerves. That evening before Ironman all you want and need is get a good sleep, but like a soldier before a battle, sleep doesn’t come easy. And in the moment, you hate it.
But looking back, I loved it. When someone I know is about to race their first Ironman, I’m nothing but stoked for them. I always tell them to just let the moments sink in because you’ll never be back at that moment. Moments where you’re all in and are about to take a leap into something that makes you both excited and afraid are few and far between. You can’t relive them, you can only keep doing things that scare you. You can definitely do another race, but there’s nothing like your first race in the big leagues. I’d fathom a guess that if you asked Ironmen, marathoners, Olympians, and professional athletes, they’ll all remember their first big moment with an unparalleled fondness.
Moments where you’re all in and are about to take a leap into something that makes you both excited and afraid are few and far between. You can’t relive them, you can only keep doing things that scare you.
So with the Calgary Marathon I’m finally ready to put myself back in that uncomfortable position of challenging myself to go a little beyond what I think is possible or easy. I’ve actually got a lot on the go in 2015, and this is just one of those big things. Its one of many big hairy audacious goals I’ve set for myself. Its kind of scary, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from racing, its that if there’s something that you want to do that scares the hell out of you. You’ve got to do it. Because when you do, win or lose, you’ll never regret it.
So, with that. I’m setting my sites on Boston. And whether I crack 3:05 or not, I’m all in.