31 May 2010

Coeur d'Alene Marathon Race Report: How I Stamped My Ticket to Boston

I'm still smiling.

I'm not really a run-for-time runner (I often take 30-75 photos during a race) - that's not to say I don't care about time, it's simply never the top priority for my runs and races.  But I'd be lying if I said the Boston Marathon wasn't one of my dreams, and to get into Boston I have to focus on time by running a 3:10:59 marathon (my PR is 3:34:00).  A few weeks ago I thought that I should at least give it a shot to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  So I gave myself a couple months to work on my speed and pacing. 

The Coeur d'Alene Marathon was meant to be a test marathon to see how my legs handled actually trying to run fast.  Then I'd have a few weeks to work on speed for my first "real" attempt at a 3:10:59 in July.  I figured I would be close in July, and if I didn't make it then, I'd have a few months to train for an October attempt.

I had a few race strategy options for Coeur d'Alene:
Option 1 -- Beat the world record.  Sure, probably not going to happen at this one, but maybe later this summer.
Option 2 -- Run at a 7:30/mile pace and shoot for a sub-3:20.  This would take over 14 minutes off my PR and move me in the right direction. My PR last month was run at an 8:10 pace on a hilly course, so this option seemed reasonable.
Option 3 -- Run at a 7:17 pace (the pace I need to qualify for Boston) for as long as I can just to see what it feels like.  Maybe I make it 20 miles, maybe I make it 15 miles, but I expect that I'll hit a wall hard at the end.  But I'd at least know that I can run the correct pace for X miles.

I chose Option 3.  And for the first time I didn't carry my camera with me during a race. Time, time, time.

Almost didn't get to start line in time
(got there with 3 minutes to spare)

I started at a brisk pace for the first mile (6:40) and felt pretty good.  I hit mile 3 in just under 21 minutes and -against my better judgment- I spontaneously changed my race strategy to:
Option 4: run at a 7:00/mile pace for as long as I can. (What's the quote about guts and glory?...)

Mile 5: Just under 35 minutes...still going strong at 7-min pace.  So then I made it a mini-goal to make it to mile 10 at a 7-min pace.

Lake Coeur d'Alene is beautiful
(Photos of course taken after the race)

Mile 10: Under 1hr 10 min...still on pace.  It was around here that I started running with a guy named Cory.  We both had similar goals for the race: run 7-min miles for as long as we can, then hang on at the end.  He was looking stronger than me when we hit the race's hills.  After a mile or so I told him my goal was to make it to the half-marathon mark at a 7-min pace and that I didn't think I could hold the pace much longer than that.

Much of the race was along Centennial Trail

Mile 15: Surprisingly, I'm still at a 7-min pace at this point.  Cory's looking good too; it's great to having someone to run with so we can pace off each other.

 Near turn-around point

Mile 18: For the first time, the thought crossed my mind that today was going to be the day I qualify for Boston.  Though there were still over 8 miles to conquer, I was feeling extremely strong and my motivation was high.

Mile 20: I reach mile 20 just under 2:20 -- still on 7-min pace.  Cory fell back and yelled to me, "Go for it!"  My motivation is getting higher - with some quick math (okay, not so quick...took me about half a mile) I realized I simply needed to run the last 10k in less than 51 minutes to qualify for Boston, so I had a bit of breathing room even if my legs got tired.  But my legs were still feeling strong.

Mile 25: Now I'm tired, but still keeping a 7-min pace. Legs are starting to feel like bricks, but somehow I feel like I'm floating. Tears well up in my eyes...I mean: a bug flew into my eyes...because I know that this is the day that I'm going to qualify for Boston.  I finish strong.

Finish: I did it!  3:03:25 (6:59.74 min/mile); 7/403 overall; 1/22 age group (overall winner couldn't double dip); ticket stamped to Boston.

Happy runner

Finisher's medal and 1st place age group medal

Only one?!?

So there it is.  I knew I had it in me to qualify - I just didn't expect it to be this race.  I'm a happy runner right now.  I'll see you in Boston next year.  :)

And there's lots more running to do in the meantime.

Keep running!



  1. You ARE impressive. I love you, squirt.

  2. congratulations on blowing your goal out of the water :D I've never done an out-and-back marathon course, but it seems like it would be nice esp if you weren't already familiar with the course. did you like it?

  3. That is absolutely fantastic! Amazing time, I wonder how the other guy got on?

    You must be floating about on achey legs now! Well done.

  4. Holy smokes! That is awesome!!! Congratulations! Man, I wish Steve and I could be your backpack holders in Boston:) ...how stinkin' exciting!

  5. YOU ARE AMAZING!! I don't know how I can keep up!!! be proud!!

  6. That same bug flew into my eye as well...

  7. Thanks everyone. Still floating around today. :)

    Beth, about 15 miles of it was a true out and back. Without knowing the course it is kinda nice to know what part of it looks like on the way back. Still generally prefer a loop or point-to-point course though.

    Liz, I saw the other guy, Cory, after the race and gave him a big hug. He dropped back a bit but still finished strong at 3:13 - 1st place age-group.

  8. Whoo-hoo! Look at you go! A 3:03 is amazing - congrats on a stellar time and a trip to Boston!

  9. This is SO awesome! I'm saving up for a trip to Boston next year...to watch of course. :)

    With the right training sub 3 should be no problem next year.
    check out these links might be of interest as your doing Boston;

    p.s. Tess says congrats on a awesome run :]

  11. WHAT?! That is amazing Scott!!!!!!! We will be there next year - Scott is running again too. It's an amazing experience.

  12. Woot! Ummmm... Yea... You are impressive, and I love you too, squirt :-)

  13. You have got to be kidding me!!!! That is freaking amazing dude!!! I am so thrilled for you!!!

    Do you notice how many !!!!!!!!! I am using :)

    Wow... the mind and body are a strong thing when they work together at the same time. Not to mention the heart!!!

  14. Dude you rocked that race! Nice job Scott! Congrats on qualifying!

  15. Scott,

    Awesome job on both the race and the blog. I am very happy for you - you are going to feel like a rockstar in Boston! I hope our paths let us cross at a race. Of course at my pace it will be before it or well after you have finished!

    Keep running!

    Best regards,

  16. I went around telling everyone how awesome you are and that you qualified for Boston on your first attempt and killed the time. And then I went and registered for another marathon.

  17. AWESOME!!! i got the chills reading that!! congrats and maybe i'll see you at Boston in 2011!!

    i get "bugs" in my eyes when i cross the finish line all the time. :-)

  18. Those are great links, Rick. Thanks.

  19. That's so fantastic! And I love the race report. You could have taken your camera along and still qualified!

  20. Awesome, awesome. I'm going to take your positive energy with me on my marathon.

    I put a link to your site on mine, if you'd rather I didn't, let me know and I'll take it back off. I think my siblings, parents, old runner buddies would really dig your site.

  21. Thanks, Edie-Marie. Run fast during your marathon!

  22. Hello from The Woodlands! Read the article today and just wanted to tell you that someone from home is routing for you!
    I have run a few ultras, 50 miles being the longest thus far. Working on my first 100 this year!
    Keep Running!

  23. What a spectacular accomplishment! Proud of you as always.

  24. A fellow IDer here. I saw your comment on my blog and went to yours to check it out. Wow- very inspiring stuff there. I just spent about 30 minutes reading some of your earlier posts. I'm totally amazed at the improvements you've made in only 3 years. Keep up the good work! Also, I see you are a Maniac? I'm working on the 50 states, as well.

  25. Wow! Tremendous race and result! It must feel absolutely amazing to suprise yourself this way. Congratulations!

  26. Wow! That is AWESOME! Congrats!

  27. Yo, movie star... Check this out!


  28. That is absolutely fantastic! Amazing time!