By Lindsay MacAdam
Oh, the five-year plan. On the eve of my 30th birthday, mine looked a little something like this: find “the one”, get married, buy a house, start a family.
Now, three-and-a-half years later and somehow nearing the completion of three quarters of this plan, I’ve started to wonder where the running side of my life fits into all of this, particularly that last part, parenthood—the most daunting and life-changing thing I’ll probably ever do. When thinking about this, there’s one thought that creeps in: I don’t come across too many marathon runners who are soon-to-be or brand-new parents. And I’m not surprised, either. It’s hard enough to stay on top of the training schedule when the only person I have to take care of is myself.
That’s not to say my running has to halt the moment I become a mother, but unless I intend to clock the majority of my kilometres on a treadmill (not likely) and choose running over the rare opportunities to sleep (even less likely), marathons will just have to take a back seat for a few years.
Given this reality, I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time to reassess my short-term running goals and see how much I can accomplish before hanging up my sneakers and prepping the nursery. Here’s the thing: I really want to qualify for the historic Boston Marathon. The 42.2 in Beantown is basically the equivalent of an Olympic qualifier for us middle-of-the-pack recreational runners—and I’d love to do it. Before I have a baby.
For a little context, in the past six years I’ve run just as many marathons and reduced my time from a 4:56 (when my only goal was to get across the finish line alive) to a 3:55. I’ve made some pretty drastic improvements in my overall speed since that PB back in May 2016, though I have yet to capitalize on those on a race day. Time goals tend to freak me out. They turn me into a bundle of nerves and lead to my eventual self-destruction. Yet, I know that to qualify for Boston, I’d need to cut a whopping 23 minutes off my time. I realize it’s an incredibly lofty goal. It’s a feat that not too long ago, I was convinced I’d never accomplish. Even now, I’m not overly confident. I’m still going to try.
When Nike announced its Breaking2 project back in December, it sparked a fire within me that I didn’t know existed. Sure, my desire to take 20-plus minutes off of my marathon PB is ambitious, but Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese were preparing to make the impossible possible with a mind-blowing sub two-hour marathon attempt. If they were willing to undertake that monumental task, why shouldn’t I try to make my impossible possible?
In December, I registered for the 2017 Chicago Marathon and soon started plotting how to make it the race where I’d earn my entry for Boston. But wait… remember that pesky five-year plan? If all went well in Chicago, I’d qualify for the 2019 race. That definitely conflicts with the timeline. I’m getting married this December and, if everything falls into place, I hope to start a family sometime the following year. Only recently did I realize what this means: it’s Boston 2018 or bust.
That’s when I began my frantic Google searches for “last-chance Boston qualifiers.”. It quickly became apparent that the Erie Marathon would be my best bet. It’s a pancake-flat course consisting of two loops of a lakeside state park, with a 2,200-runner capacity. As far as my chances at a BQ are concerned, I’ve heard it doesn’t get much more favourable than this. Of course, there are the things you can’t control, like weather, illness and injury, but it sounded like the perfect place to take my first crack at this moonshot marathon. So that was that: I registered. It takes place on September 10.
The registration for the 2018 Boston Marathon begins the very next day.
So now I’m here and once a week for the weeks leading up to the big day, I’ll take you along on my journey to gain the strength, speed and mental toughness necessary to qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon. I’ll share insights from experts in various fields of fitness and nutrition who will help me approach this training cycle and race day as strategically as possible. I’ll document the ups, the downs and everything in between. I can’t guarantee I’ll achieve this audacious goal, but I promise to give it my all.