• Carmen Scuito

26.2 | 2:59:59 | 4/3/21

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

This week marks 18 weeks until the REVEL Mt Charleston Marathon on April 3rd, 2021. 18 weeks is the length of the marathon training plan I plan to follow. Thus, my days of running freely are just about over for now. The training program I plan to follow is a slightly modified version (to fit my school schedule) of the "Pfitz 18/70" plan. "18/70" as in 18 weeks of marathon training topping out at 70 miles per week. That's a lot. Even for as much of an experienced runner as I am, that scares me. Running 70 miles in one week is a crazy number, but I've got an even crazier number:


That's the goal. A marathon in under 3 hours. That's the requirement to qualify for the Boston Marathon. So, 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds. Or, 26.2 miles with an average pace of 6:51 minutes per mile. Or, of course, faster than that, as it's still a first-come first-serve sort of deal when applying for the Boston Marathon.

As with any relatively serious runner, I've always had this goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon in the back of my mind. I've been running on and off since high school, although I only really started to take it seriously just a few years ago. Yet, I've never actually thought it was possible for me to run a marathon this fast until earlier this spring.

I was registered to run the REVEL Mt Charleston Half Marathon in April of this year, but we all know how 2020 has gone. When the world shut down, I decided to continue on with my training and run the race virtually. I was following a training plan that had me running between 40-50 miles per week. I had set a reasonable goal for goal for myself based on how my training had been going to run the half marathon in 1 hour and 35 minutes. Of course, this plan was sort of completely thrown out the window on race day.

REVEL Mt Charleston 2020 Virtual Half Marathon Race Recap:

I ran the virtual race with my friend Gabbey, who I ultimately have to thank for the race-day confidence. She parked her car at the finish line, and I drove us to the start. I remember telling her about my goal of 1:35, and her response was a giggle followed by a "1:35? You can probably run this under 1:30 easily." Now, most runners understand this, but that 5 minute difference between a 1:35 half marathon and a 1:30 half marathon is a very big difference. That's a difference of a 7:15 min/mi pace and a 6:51 min/mi pace. She's crazy. She's just being nice. I shrugged it off and appreciated her confidence in me, but then I began thinking to myself a little bit. I knew the course was mostly downhill, but it didn't seem like too much elevation change while we were driving, so I didn't think much of it. Ah, but Gabbey has lived here for years. She's an avid trail runner who's been to Mt Charleston countless times, and I've only been out here maybe twice before. She definitely knows this course better than I do. Maybe she thinks I'm just a much faster runner than I actually I am? I mean, I don't know, I haven't ran a half marathon at a race pace in years, but the few race predictor calculators I did online on some random websites also said that 1:35 would be a reasonable goal to aim for. So as we were about to begin, these were the thoughts running through my head as I was preparing for a grueling 13.1 miles.

The most efficient way to run a race is to "negative split" it, meaning running the second half of the race faster than the first half. So, I actually wanted to come out a little slower than 7:15. My first mile clocked in at 6:41 - way too fast for my anticipated 7:15 pace. I thought I had ruined the race already by coming out too fast. I made sure to slow down for my second mile, but I still clocked in faster than I wanted to at 7:02. However, I felt great, and I actually felt like I was forcing myself to slow down. I decided to just run at whatever felt comfortable, and I ended up running my third mile in 6:52. This is when I threw my race plan out the window and just kept running. I knew I was going to burn out at some point, I just didn't know when. The next miles came in at 6:58, then 6:49, 6:47, 6:43... I was getting faster, and I was still running comfortably. I started to believed Gabbey. I felt great, and barring anything drastic, I knew it was going to happen. I didn't understand how I was running this fast relatively easily, but it was happening. I dipped into the 6:30's and didn't really feel any difficulty until mile 11. I've been training hard for months, and I was expecting this race to hurt from pushing myself so much. Yet, I didn't feel the "hurt" until almost 11 miles in. There was no doubt in my mind that I could push through for 2 more miles, and that's exactly what I did.

I finished 13.1 miles in 1:28:05.

As hard as it was for me to believe at first, this success wasn't an accident. I trained for this, my training went well, and I was in shape for it.

Fast-forward to today: I've maintained my weekly mileage throughout the hot Las Vegas summer, and I spent the fall working on my shorter-distance speed while taking part in a competitive 5k race series on a deceivingly hilly course. I've actually still got one more 5k to go, and I'm aiming to run it in 18:50.

Yet, as long as I've been considering a serious attempt at a Boston-qualifying marathon, I had kept it relatively quiet. An 18:50 5k doesn't translate to a 3 hour marathon on these race predictor calculation websites, and neither does a 1:28:05 half marathon. All of my running data isn't a secret - people know the paces I run at. What if they don't think I can pull it off? I mean, it's easy to make an assumption from my very publicly-available running data. REVEL Mt Charleston a very fast course, what if I can't do this on a different marathon course? I have yet to run a marathon where everything went smoothly, and here I am talking about qualifying for Boston? Lastly, of course, what if I fail?

I decided that this is my race, and I'm not looking for any sort of validation for it. I am going to attempt to run 26.2 miles in under 3 hours on a certified race course in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Period. Sure there may be valid skepticism, but I believe in myself more than I believe in some online race predictor calculator, and I'm sure other people believe in me too. I know Gabbey is probably going to tell me that I should try to qualify for the Olympics or something. The point is, this has been my running journey, and this race will be my race, and I know what's possible.

Attached is a simplified PDF version of the plan. Ignore the "week of" column (I didn't make this, I just copy and pasted an image from the internet). I'm going to do the Tuesday workout on Monday, the Wednesday workout on Tuesday, etc. so I can have my rest days be on Sunday. Any exams and assignments I have with school will also call for some shuffling around with the runs, but for the most part, this is what it will look like.

Thank you for support. I hope to post an update in 18 weeks with some very exciting news.

Boston, I'm coming.

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