Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I Don't Know If I'm Running Boston Next Year

I just got an email from the Boston Athletic Association informing me that registration for the 2016 Boston Marathon will begin on Monday, September 14.  Boston has a rolling registration process depending on how fast your qualifying time was relative to the standard for your age group.  The first day I can register is Friday, September 18.

I’ve run the Boston Marathon in each of past four years, but I don’t know if I’ll be going next year.  It’s one of my favorite races, but I’ve got mixed feelings about going back in 2016.

I usually stay at a downtown hotel.  For the past two years, I’ve stayed at the downtown Doubletree.  I usually book my hotel room in April or May.  When I checked rates in May, they started at $434 per night.  Last year, I paid less than $200 per night.  I checked other downtown hotels, and they were all above $400.  That’s too much.

I could get a more reasonable rate by staying farther out and taking the train into town, but staying downtown has always been a big part of the experience for me.  I’m not just there for the race.  I’m there for the whole weekend.  I get together with different friends on different days.  I like being downtown, where everywhere you look there are runners who are obviously there for the race.  There’s a certain buzz in the air.

Aside from the rising cost of hotels, there’s another reason why I’m ambivalent about next year.  In recent years, I’ve judged my race results by whether or not I was fast enough to qualify for Boston.  Right now, I’m not able to do that.  I have a qualifier for next year, but if I had to qualify today, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

I’m injured, and I haven’t had any quality training since April.  I’ve chosen to stick to an ambitious race schedule for the next few months, so I know I won’t have a chance to fully heal until the end of the year.  Then I‘ll need a rest break.  When I’m ready to resume training, I’ll be out of shape.  I’m hopeful that I’ll eventually get back in form, but it may take a while.  Most likely, if I run Boston next year, I’d be running it slowly.  I’m content to do that in other races, but not at Boston.

I wish I could wait to make a decision, but registration starts next week.  In all likelihood, registration will close at the end of the second week.  If I don’t register by then, I’ll lose the opportunity.  I’m reluctant to enter the race without having lodging plans and without knowing if I’ll be in shape.

I don’t want to enter just to keep my options open.  Aside from not wanted to waste money on an expensive entry fee, I wouldn’t want to take a spot away from someone else.  Some people who try to enter won’t get in.  I know my qualifying time is safe, but other people are on the bubble.

I wish I knew my plans for future years.  I’ve run Boston four years in a row.  I have a few friends who have run it at least 10 consecutive years.  They have guaranteed entry each year, so long as they continue to qualify.  If I knew I would continue to qualify every year, I’d probably do that too.  Right now, I have my doubts.  The qualification period for 2017 will begin soon.  I’ll be 55 in 2017, so I only need to break 3:40.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to do that.  It’s possible that I’ll still be trying to qualify next summer.

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