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Monday, May 7, 2012

Operation Qualify

I feel like every major initiative needs an official title.

Whether it's a military campaign or a recurring graphic on your nightly news, when something big is happening, the people in charge always want to give it a name. Then it's cool. Then it's trendy. Then it's something that can have theme music and a celebrity spokesperson.

While I don't yet have any celebrity endorsements and my theme song is not quite finished, I do have a name for my mission. Today, I decided that my short, quick five-mile run was officially part of Operation Qualify. Everything that I'm doing between now and June 2nd should, in some way, consider my goals for the Sunburst Marathon. Chief among these goals is running a time that qualifies me for the 2013 Boston Marathon. Starting now, I need to eat better, drink more water, and commit every mile to being stronger.

Now, I will think about every workout (or day of rest) as part of my strategy, focusing on what I can learn from each step. Today was all about the heat.

I've been doing a lot of research on various marathons recently, mostly through MarathonGuide.com. I enjoy reading reviews of races, as the promotional copy from the official websites generally don't tell me what I want to know. The race's site will tell you all the great things about every race. Genuine reviews will tell you all the problems. It's not that I'm looking for downsides, but the last thing you need at the end of 26 miles is an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. Better to see what's coming.

Through this research, I'm slowly zeroing in on the specific races that I'm going to run. Recently, I was going through all the marathons listed in the state of Alabama and Alaska, trying to narrow down my options. When I got tired of researching unfamiliar races, I turned my attention to the ones I knew I was going to do, and naturally, I started with the Sunburst Marathon in South Bend. For the most part, the reviews were positive, though there were some issues related the clarity of course markings.

Surprisingly, the biggest complaint was from last year's race and had nothing to do with race planning. Evidently, it was so hot that they had to cancel the end of the race. Setting aside for a moment how monumentally upset I would be if I went all the way to Indiana for a race and was not allowed to finish it with an official time, my immediate reaction was panic. It had not really occurred to me that it might get that hot in Indiana, even in June.

I lived there for four years, so you would think I would know the meteorological possibilities, but I did not see this coming. Seattle spoiled me with perfect weather last June, and I just got it into my head that South Bend would be a relief. I could be horribly wrong.

Which means that I need to train in the heat. The one great thing about living in an impossibly hot state is that, even if race day is warm, it almost certainly won't be as hot as home. This year's Boston Marathon showed the effect a hot day can have, with a winning time that was nine minutes slower than 2011. If it is as hot in South Bend this year as it was last year, I may have some trouble hitting my goal, but at least I'll be more prepared than most, thanks to runs like today, when I completed five hot, fast miles without too much pain and suffering. I'm on my way.

And every step leads to Boston.

Monday's workout:
88 degrees, sunny
5.15 Miles

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