Photo: Jess Baumung

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.

RELATED: My best running experience: “I ran Boston pregnant”

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.


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13 Comments

  • Johanna says:

    Great first piece Lindsay! I’ve always believed in you and know that you can do anything you set your mind to. I’ll be cheering you on every stride of the way!

  • Very inspiring and great write up. I am also in the same boat less than 10 weeks to go I’d need to cut a whopping 45 minutes off my PB (3:53:18) in order to get my BQ 3:09. Let’s give it all and see.

    Wish you good luck.

  • Carolyn Davidson says:

    So first of all, YAY Boston! I totally hope you accomplish your goal. Some good news for you…I am ollllllder than you. So my husband was the one who pointed out that a BQ could be in my grasp with some hard work. I did not believe him, but he showed me. I had just run a 4:12 time, and I needed less than a 3:55. So a bit less time to cut out, but when I ran my qualifying race, I ran it in 3:46. So big time cuts CAN happen, especially when you have such a great goal! 😉

    If by chance it does *not* happen before a little one comes along, I have another bit of good news for you. Women tend to come back from pregnancies running faster than they did before they had children. Crazy but true!

    Good luck to you and I am going to be following you to watch your progress and hopefully achieve your goal!

    • Lindsay says:

      Those are indeed two very great bits of news, Carolyn! Thank you so much for your support and encouragement, and for sharing your story. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Jesse says:

    All the best in your journey! My PB was 355 pre kids. I ran a 349 when my first baby was 13 months (training whIle on mat leave was great!) And then took a few years off marathoning as I found shorter distances were easier to balance with working motherhood. I had my second baby 3 years after my first and ran a 335 marathon when he turned 1. A year later and I ran a 329 and punched my ticket to boston. I ran this April – my kids are now 3 and 6 – and their good luck messages from home carried me through!

    • Lindsay says:

      Wow, what an incredible accomplishment! Great to hear that your kiddos didn’t keep you from reaching your running goals!

  • Becky says:

    I’m hoping for the same Lindsay! All eggs in one basket for hopefully Boston 2018. Starting to get nervous…only 60 some days away!!

  • Becky McKenna says:

    You got this girl! 😊

  • heather watson says:

    Go for it Lindsay, you can do it and then when you eventually have those babies you can come to Spain and run the boardwalk with the kids for the 7 klm into the next town. Remember the runs two years ago!

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