I Will Qualify For The Boston Marathon By 2020

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After much thought, I’ve decided to add another goal to my list.

I will qualify for the Boston Marathon by 2020.

Here are the current qualifying standards:

AGE GROUP MEN WOMEN
18-34 3hrs 05min 00sec 3hrs 35min 00sec
35-39 3hrs 10min 00sec 3hrs 40min 00sec
40-44 3hrs 15min 00sec 3hrs 45min 00sec
45-49 3hrs 25min 00sec 3hrs 55min 00sec
50-54 3hrs 30min 00sec 4hrs 00min 00sec
55-59 3hrs 40min 00sec 4hrs 10min 00sec
60-64 3hrs 55min 00sec 4hrs 25min 00sec
65-69 4hrs 10min 00sec 4hrs 40min 00sec
70-74 4hrs 25min 00sec 4hrs 55min 00sec
75-79 4hrs 40min 00sec 5hrs 10min 00sec
80 and over 4hrs 55min 00sec 5hrs 25min 00sec

Right now, I fall in the men’s 18-34 age group, but I will turn 35 on September 10, 2020. This means I will have to run a marathon in 3 hours and 5 minutes by September 10, 2020 or run it in 3 hours and 10 minutes between September 10 and the end of 2020.

My Running History

I had always been very active throughout my childhood, but I started running a bit more seriously when my twin brother and I joined the middle school cross country (“XC”) team in 7th grade. We continued running XC through high school. In my junior year, I was inspired by my high school XC coach to attempt a full marathon. It was a true physical, mental, and spiritual challenge, but I ended up finishing in 3:40:40, and my coach, Mr. Bouchard (at age 43), finished 48th overall in a time of 3:08:52 (see results here). I learned a lot about setting goals, being disciplined, training hard, and being persistent. I learned that the human spirit is strong, and we can accomplish almost anything if we set our minds to it. Since then, I’ve run a total of 9 marathons over many years, some with training and some with not so much. Here they are below. None of them are close to the qualifying standard, so I’ve got a bit of work to do.

Marathon Date Time Mile pace
1 Ocean State Marathon 2001 10/8/2001 3:40:40 8:25
2 Ocean State Marathon 2002 10/13/2002 3:39:18 8:22
3 The Breakers Marathon 2005 10/22/2005 4:00:46 9:11
4 The Breakers Marathon 2006 10/21/2006 3:49:46 8:46
5 Boston Marathon 2007* 4/16/2007 3:50:50 8:49
6 Kansas City Marathon 2007 10/20/2007 3:58:04 9:05
7 Amica Insurance Breakers Marathon 2008** 10/18/2008 4:31:00 10:21
8 Philadelphia Marathon 2011*** 11/20/2011 5:17:37 12:07
9 Rock n Roll Marathon Washington DC 2013 3/16/2013 4:01:21 9:13

*ran as a bandit (unregistered)
**ran with my brother, Manny Lee (I was unregistered)
***stayed with my wife on her first ever half marathon, then finished the full marathon

Obstacles To Overcome

It’s definitely not going to be easy which is why I decided I’ll need a few years. I’ll have to improve my personal record (PR) that I achieved 14 years ago by over 34 minutes. Since then, my weight has gone up from 135 to 161 while my height has remained at 5′ 9″. I now have a full-time job and 3 other income-producing activities that take up my time. I have a wife and a 16-month old son who need my attention. I can keep coming up with excuses, or I can find a way to manage and prioritize my time to do all those things and achieve this additional goal.

Here’s How I Plan To Do It

Breaking it down. I’ve found that breaking a goal down into manageable pieces has worked for me. I’ll shoot for incremental progress and track it here on my blog. I’m probably in close to the worst physical shape of my life right now, so for 2016, I’m just going to try to run a marathon in under 4 hours. I’ll break my goal down into these intermediate goals:

  • 2016: run a marathon in under 4 hours (9:09/mile)
  • 2017: run a marathon in under 3 hours and 45 minutes (8:35/mile)
  • 2018: run a marathon in under 3 hours and 30 minutes (8:00/mile)
  • 2019: run a marathon in under 3 hours and 15 minutes (7:26/mile)
  • 2020: run a marathon in under 3 hours and 5 minutes (7:03/mile)

Achieving my ideal running weight. There are a ton of ways to calculate ideal running weight, and people argue over the merits of each of them. I found one here that seems to work for most people and body types, so I’m going to go with it. It goes like this. Take your height in inches (I’m 5’9″, so 69 inches) and double it (138 lbs).

Then, perform the following test (source) to determine if you have a small, medium, or large frame.

Using the index finger and thumb of your left hand, wrap these fingers around your right wrist.

I have a slightly larger than medium frame

If the fingers touch but don’t overlap, you have a medium bone structure and/or musculature. If your fingers overlap, you have a small frame. If your fingers do not touch, you have a larger than average bone structure.

Now, with you frame assessed in a general sense, let’s do some quick calculations using our “double the inches” formula as a baseline.

  • Small Frame – Double the inches, then subtract 5-10lbs to establish an optimum running weight for health and performance.
  • Medium Frame – The formula works! Keep it the same.
  • Large Frame – Double the inches, then add 5-10lbs.

My fingers can just barely touch if I squeeze really tight, so I think I have a slightly larger than medium frame. Starting at my baseline of 138 lbs, I’m going to add 0-5 lbs and say my ideal running weight is 138-143 lbs.

Getting my weight into this range will require losing 18-23 lbs. This will be another goal I will track monthly. I’ll break it down into these intermediate goals:

  • 2016 – weigh under 155 lbs
  • 2017 – weigh under 150 lbs
  • 2018 – weigh under 147 lbs
  • 2019 – weigh under 144 lbs
  • 2020 – weigh 138-143 lbs

Eating better. I’ll have to eat better to lose weight and run better. I need to eat smaller portions, cook at home more, and eat out less. I actually weighed in at 166 lbs last week after coming back from a weeklong trip to RI, and I already see how effective a proper diet combined with exercise is for losing weight (lost ~5 lbs this past week). I hope to continue to make healthy choices and try my best to cut out sugary drinks, sweets, fast food, and other unhealthy foods. I’ll need to lose as much body fat as I can to bring down my weight without losing my strength.

Running a lot. I started running in the mornings a few times a week after we drop off our son with our nanny. I used to run 8-10 miles/night in high school after running ~4-6 miles for XC practice when I was training for my first marathon. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish a full marathon, so I trained really hard back then. I hope to take this goal as seriously as I took my first marathon. I’m doing a lot of 3 mile runs for now to get back in shape gradually, but I hope to increase my distance and eventually start doing long runs once a week.

This is probably the most challenging of all my goals, but I’m excited for it. Stay posted for my monthly progress.

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