Race Recap: Sub 3 hour Salisbury Marathon 2021 – Boston Qualified!

I wasn’t even supposed to be here.

A year ago I was supposed to be in New Jersey.

As early as a few weeks ago I was supposed to be in Delaware.

Running 26.2 miles somewhere else.

But here I am, Salisbury Maryland, Saturday, April 3rd – and I just qualified for Boston.

October 2019

My journey started in Baltimore, 2 years ago.

After finishing Ironman Maryland I set my sights on a sub 3 hour marathon to qualify for Boston.

I (stupidly) chose one of the hilliest marathons on the east coast, Baltimore – and I missed by 18 minutes.

Not 24 hours later, I was planning the revenge tour.

March 2020

COVID-19 happened. I don’t need to write much more here.

I was signed up for the New Jersey marathon in April of 2020 and had been training (quite effectively I might add) in the months following Baltimore.

I was just in peak weeks approaching my 20 milers when the race was canceled, the world shut down, and the status of my next race totally unknown.

November 2020

With COVID a ‘norm’, races started popping up again. They all had their restrictions, but at least they were there. 

In April 2020 was the Delaware Marathon, a few hours from my house, a Boston Qualifier course, and flat enough to be worthy.

I signed up and got to work.

I had revamped my entire training at this point. Shooting for 5-6 days running per week (vs 3-4 for Baltimore) with more specific speed work, long run workouts, and in another word – focus.

The next 4 months would be grueling, but they did their job – I was feeling as ready as ever to tackle a BQ attempt again.

March 2021

Delaware marathon canceled.

Absolute fury.

2nd time in two years I’d trained almost all the way there, only to have a marathon ripped out from under me. The BQ attempt risked having to wait even longer.

Until Kevin, a great friend, JMF running coach, and fast as hell guy texted me:

“Hey, Salisbury is in 2 weeks, it’s flat, registration is still open – it’s a BQ course, do that with me”

So, the plan became simple:

  • Cut 6 weeks out of my training
  • Taper immediately
  • Hope to god I had done enough

April 2, 2021 – The day before

Salisbury was a well known place to me.

I played lacrosse in college for York College of PA, Salisbury was in our division.

I wouldn’t call us competitive with them (they frequently ranked #1 in the country), but that didn’t mean we liked them very much.

Kevin ran track at York and had, let’s say similar feelings. 

We were here to run fast, give the middle finger to Salisbury’s stadium, and finish sub 3.

But first, sushi.

A tradition both of us had locked on to in our last few years, sushi before the long run (or in today’s case, race).

Sushi is, uh, hard to come by in rural Salisbury, so Kevin brought it from his favorite spot in Philly, and 12 rolls and a declined beer later (I’d have mine if I earned it on race day), we went to bed, ready to rock.

April 3, 2021 – BQ attempt #2, the Salisbury Marathon

It was MAYBE 25 degrees when our alarms went off. 

An absolutely frigid, but totally clear day was ahead of us, with temps peaking at 45 mid day (well after we’d be done running).

As someone who runs hot in general, I was thrilled with the temp, just not the part where I had to deal with it prior to running. 

We bundled up, grabbed sweats, maurten gels, bibs and super shoes, and made our way to the start. 

The start

Kevin, myself, and the other ~200 people in the race stood idly around, ready to tackle the some 400ft of total elevation gain of this fast course. 

No breeze, no precipitation, just anxiety in the air. 

My plan? Run a 6:40-6:45 until I finished, or collapsed, whichever came first. 

We lined up – they played a mediocre version of the national anthem on what amounted to a bluetooth speaker, and off went the gun. 

The race

Normally, when I write these race reports, I break up the race into sections. There are usually key events or notable things that happen in the beginning/middle/end.

This race? Not really the case.

There were no notable landmarks (sans the stadium which go the very petty bird) or significant changes in feeling, pace, stride, hope.

From the first mile, I felt great. And I felt that way the whole. Damn. time. 

I was fortunate enough to find a guy from my town also running at my speed, and we paced each other most of the way – I’m sure it made a difference, it definitely did for me.

Every single mile existed between ~6:38-6:47 and I mentally ran the race exactly as intended: 

  • 16 miles
  • 10k
  • 4 miles

Those 3 sections helped me stay calm for the first 16, focused for 6, and pumped that only 4 remained after.

There’s no fancy story here – simply this: 

My training was enough, the weather was perfect, my hydration/nutrition was proper and I ended the race: 2:56:01.

3:59 under my BQ standard.

I am going to Boston.

Now… where can I get that beer