Friday, December 3, 2010

Houston Full or Half Marathon?

Should I run Houston's full or the half marathon? It's a head-scratcher, partly tied to the 2012 Boston Marathon.

While I'm currently signed-up for the Houston Marathon on January 30th I could easily run the same day half marathon instead, provided I switch by the December 19th deadline.

Subsequent to my recent San Antonio Marathon disappointment I've been strongly thinking about switching to Houston's Half Marathon, as based on my recent Chicago and San Antonio marathon splits I would have easily set personal half-marathon records, so I clearly have the fitness to excel at that shorter distance. Additionally, my coach Sean Wade and I feel that I would tremendously benefit by a six-month rest from my three year recent history of running five marathons per year, and to instead concentrate on speed versus endurance by focusing exclusively on 5K and 10K races.

However, I want to be able to line-up in Hopkinton in 2012. As the Boston Marathon will certainly sell-out immediately upon registration opening (anticipated in October, 2011) presuming I begin my six-month marathon hiatus subsequent to my next race it would be ideal for me to get another Boston qualifying marathon run under my belt at Houston.

Of course, as the 2011 Boston race sold out in only eight hours the BAA may change its 2012 registration date, significantly tighten its qualifications standards, enlarge the number of runners (at minimum by stopping the congestion-inducing and freeloading bandits), and/or move towards a a lottery system. However, as all of these possibilities are outside my ability to predict or influence it makes sense for me to simply re-qualify under the current rules then hope for the best.

Consequently, here's my plan. Until Saturday, December 11th I will continue training while generally following the Kenyan Way full marathon plan. I will then run my scheduled Kenyan Way 22-miler (16-miles @8:00 pace with the final 6-miles @7:30 marathon pace). If I flag on that key training run I'll switch to the half instead with a clear conscience that I've done the right thing. Though as a result I may be unable to run my third Boston Marathon in 2012 I'd be completely OK with that outcome, and would be happy to start my forthcoming speed-focused training with a half-marathon personal record. Time will tell! Thoughts?


  1. Difficult decision to make but your strategy sounds sound (sorry) - I think your 22 miler will give you a good idea of what you're capable of and what condition you're in. I admire your attitude toward possible changes in Boston in 2012 - you're very sharp on distinguishing between the things you can and can't control. Really impressive.

    I'm hoping the run goes well and you run your full!

  2. Tough call. If I were looking for a specific qualifying time I would want every opportunity (within reason). My fear would be dropping to the half and end up missing perfect marathon conditions. If the conditions turn out to be crappy, no worries, I just slow down and enjoy the race, leaving myself in good shape for the next qualifying effort.

    It's almost a damned if you do; damned if you don't proposition and I do not envy making that decision.

  3. Yes, that is a tough decision. Personally, I'd probably shoot for a smoking half and give your body a break from the full. I know there will be more BQ's in your future, and you've asked a lot from your (more resilient than mine) body lately. Obviously, just my opinion. Whichever you choose, I hope all goes well!

  4. I agree with Colin. You've already run Boston multiple times. I thought that your goal is to set another Marathon PR, not BQ. So, run the 1/2, get a PR there, and let your body rest a little for another Marathon PR. BTW, awesome RRT on nutrition!