Today is a rest day and also a day off from work, so I figured getting some thoughts down
So... why the BQ attempt at MDI?
I've been asked that question a lot the past several months. For most of us, qualifying for the Boston Marathon is difficult enough. Throw in an extremely hilly course like the one at the Mt. Desert Island Marathon and the degree of difficulty can increase pretty significantly. A flatter course could make it much easier and more within the realm of possibility for a runner of my ability, so why try it here?
I've probably given a few different answers to that question, and all were true but my answers were based on what was on my mind at that particular time. They've ranged from any of the below or combinations thereof:
1) It's a challenge. This course can be considered one of, if not the most, difficult courses on the east coast. The hills are unrelenting, and some of the most challenging hills are in the final five miles. BQ'ing here is something special. Anyone who does so here is a huge bad ass, in my opinion. As a result, I've dreamed of my first BQ being here.
2) This marathon rules. It's extremely well organized, with all of the i's dotted and t's crossed. You are made to feel extremely welcome on all fronts. The volunteers are absolutely fantastic. It just has a really awesome vibe to it. The scenery along the course is also absolutely beautiful. The leaves are at or near peak colors, and you get several good looks at the ocean as you run. It's stunning. So, BQ'ing at an awesome race such as this one would make it even more special.
3) Sentimental reasons. This marathon was my first in 2005, and I vowed to do it every year since, though I didn't run it last year since I was just coming off a stress fracture. I was happy with every performance, except for two years ago due to stomach issues and a questionable race strategy, but even then I still had a really good time. A really well put together race will do that. Even if things don't go so well you still have fun. The great vibe of the race and the scenery of the course tend to supersede such matters.
4) I always run hills. Most of my running routes are hilly. I'm used to hills and love hills. So for me, a marathon course should have hills, and the ones on this course are pretty similar to the ones I run on around home. You train for what you run.
So there ya have it. And this year is different than the other four times I've run MDI. Instead of riding off ultramarathon training (ie little or no speed work) like in the past, this year I trained specifically for this race with a BQ in mind. The long runs were there, as were the tempo runs and speed workouts at the track. It's all gone really well so far. Hopefully the stars will align this Sunday.
And somewhat random, but here's a great song to have in your head while running:
Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi