I went through three distinct goal revisions in the lead up to Edinburgh.
My initial thoughts for the race were to target 3:30. I had found Loch Ness far from simple in the closing stages. Poorly hydrated and unable to reduce my heart rate to match my effort level, the last three miles were marginal in terms of safety. With what I had learnt, and a further training plan to come, shedding 30 seconds every mile seemed both achievable and stretching. I entered in December 2012, stating a forecast time that would dictate my starting position.
I vowed to maintain a decent level of autumn and winter mileage, eventually running over 600km, mostly on muddy or frozen trails and culminating in the Endurance Life coastal half marathon race in Northumberland to launch my spring training plan. This approach had worked well the year before, when in June I had run a mountainous 13.1 mile race in the Lake District in brutal weather conditions. In some way, a maximum effort, decent length race in tough surroundings made the mileage hike ahead seem less daunting. I finished 15th overall in Northumberland with a maiden 1st place in the V45 category. Clocking 1:46:50 seemed modest at the time but on reflection, over half the course surface had been sand and it dawned on me that not everyone faces the unavoidable demands of the trails and hills on my doorstep in Yorkshire. Was I being ambitious enough? Was there a milestone that would better reflect the progress I had made? By early March, I had closely re-considered the times that had been run during all my long efforts over winter and could see further progression and consistency. Drawn by a city I had long planned to visit, but more greatly inspired by the history and iconic status of the race, I looked up the qualification standard for the Boston Marathon. I found 3:25 against my category. To complete my journey from chubby boy to BQ, from bacon rolls to Boston, theoretically all I had to find was another five minutes and in doing so deliver an 18 minute PB. I would target Boston qualification as my stretch goal and my initial 3:30 time as a secondary aim.
The final revision of my stretch aim grew partly from gauging positive training progression obtained through accumulated miles but also tragically, was the result of a hideous act of terror. The bombing of the 2013 Boston marathon was shocking both in human terms and also for a running community unaccustomed to such tragedy. I became immediately uncertain about my commitment to attending in 2014 should I qualify. Not through any fear of the security, quite the opposite, simply unsure how representative the 2014 event might be of it’s true 126 year history. In parallel, my imagination was sparked by friends and club-mates running the 2013 London Marathon. The “good for age” standard demands a further 10 minute improvement to guarantee a place in London. The Leeds Half Marathon took place two weeks before Edinburgh and was already scheduled as a tune-up race in my plan. The race now became an examination of my true readiness to realistically set a revised stretch target of 3hr15mins. It went better than any race I had ever run and the die was cast. A PB performance of 87:42 gave me the confidence to set a race plan designed to give me the chance to gain London qualification if it looked possible on the day, without placing too much risk on my ambition to secure a Boston place as originally planned.