Coral “A” or Coral “C”?

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the Houston Marathon. Coral assignments were finalized and I was in coral “C”. A few hours later, I received a “corrected” coral assignment and was in “A”. There are a total of four coral. So, which is correct? Do I belong with the fastest (non-elite) runners, or do I belong with the slower then average group?

Well, depending on how you look at it, both are correct.

This the second time that I have been granted top coral seeding based on previous finishers time (the other was Disney). Both times, the coral assignment was based on my finish time in a shorter event. When I am seeded based on a marathon time, I get pushed back…way back. During the past year, my short to mid-distance events have gotten stronger. My marathon has not. I hit a well between mile 15-18 and then just slog the rest of the way. You can see the difference in my PR’s:

5k-22:49

10k-47:41

Half Marathon-1:44:03

Full Marathon-4:26:15

I qualified for Houston based on my 10k result (sub-51:08 minutes) and my HM result (sub 1:52:55). But I was nowhere close to qualifying based on my marathon time (sub 4:00:00). In Houston, any of the 3 results got you qualified. Also, if you qualified based on time, you are automatically seeded in the front coral.

I think what happened was simple to explain. I got assigned “C” based on my projected finish time, then got pushed up to “A” based on the fact that I am a time qualifier.

This brings up two things to ponder. One, why is my marathon time so much weaker then my other races. I routinely do long run training (sometimes four 20+ mile runs before a marathon) but I lack the endurance (it’s the legs, not the cardio that kills me). Second, where do I line up on race day?

I think the answer to both is pretty simple. First, I am just a better runner at short distances. Maybe I will improve in the marathon distance with more experience. Maybe I won’t. I still love marathons. They are a bigger challenge and are usually the events that I build my season around. But I am just not that strong at that distance.

The second answer is easy as well. I will line up in “C”. It is where I belong in a long race, and I can join a realistic pace group there. I will be happy to see the big “A” on my bib, knowing that I did earn it. But, I need to be realistic and fair to the other runners….

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6 Comments

Filed under Random Musings

6 responses to “Coral “A” or Coral “C”?

  1. Way to go speedy 😉 I know it wouldn’t be “fair” to the other runners, but it sure would be fun to line up in “A” for once at a long race 😉

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  2. Go with the fast guys. It may motivate you to a new PR. Based on your other times you should be running at least 3:50. Go out there and do it! You forgot there is one big factor over the legs and cardio. It’s the mental game. You need to believe you can run the time you want. Then on race day stay calm and execute. When you mind tells you to slow down, so still have plenty left in the tank. Best of luck. Tell us how it goes.

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    • I agree that, on paper, my marathon time should be in the 3:50 range. I have had a lot of breakthrough races this year (knocking 4:30 off my 10k time, 10 minutes off my HM time, and a whopping 52 minutes off my HIM time). So, I did line up with the fast crowd last month at Route 66. I “knew” I would break my marathon PR of 4:26. I was under 2 hours at the halfway point, and still managed to finish at 4:32. I felt that I was maintaining my speed when I looked at my Garmin and I was over 12 min/mile. I tried to pick up the pace and got nowhere. Realistically, I should not have been in “A” coral at Route 66 either (they asked for an estimated finish time and my response was overly optimistic leading to my “A” coral placement). I would have moved back, but my airline had moved my flight up on me, and I was worried about getting to the airport in time, so I didn’t want to waste 10-15 minutes! Talk about a bad/selfish reason to stay in the front coral!

      I will line up with the 4:15 group and see if I can hang with them the whole way. Might be more realistic…

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  3. I’m in “C” for Houston, too. I had just been placed in “B” for Dallas so I was a little disappointed, but Houston is a huge race. Congrats on qualifying for “A”!

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    • I always feel like I cheated a little getting in a front coral based on shorter races. For a full, “C” is likely where I should be. I think I will just find the 4:15 pace group and try to hand with the, and break my PR that way. Winter has been rough here in MN and my training is not where it should be. Talk of a PR may be overly optimistic. But it is my weakest PR and it should fall!

      Congrats on “B” in Dallas! I heard that the weather was wet and tough this year, but better then last year (was it last year that it was cancelled?). I plan on running Dallas at some point in the near future. I heard its a great event!

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