The BQ(Q) – Michael S

Michael’s advice here on taking the long view, and looking at the training as a series of cycles (base, short speed, longer MP work) is pretty much exactly what I am thinking for the New York Marathon this fall. I won’t BQ like Michael did but I hope I get a little closer.

Thanks, Michael for taking the time to do this!

Name:  Michael S.

Sex: M

Age (at the time of first BQ): 38

Height: 6’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 170

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?


What was your finishing time?


Tell us a little about the race. 

Very good running weather.  Mid-40s and overcast.  A bit of a headwind, but I found a great group of runners to tuck into the first half of the marathon.  Our pack was led by a very tall former college CC runner who clicked off splits like a metronome.  When the pack fell apart, I found another strong runner who I stayed with through mile 22.  Until that point in the race my mile splits were quite even – almost every single split was between 7:00 and 7:06.  The last few miles I faded a bit, but I achieved the one goal I had set out for – the BQ.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

I had been running for about seven years.

Did you run in college or high school?

I ran cross country for one year in high school.  No running in college and didn’t really get back into it until, on a whim, I signed up for the NYC Marathon lottery in 2007 and was surprised to find I had been accepted.  Used a bare minimum 3-day-a-week program for the NYC Marathon and finished that race around 3:41.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?  8500.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 


Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 

About 5 races.  Most important might have been a couple of half marathons smack in the middle of the summer.  Gutting out fast miles in 80-degree weather was a good test for handling the pain of the last few miles of the marathon.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? 

Not really.  I would occasionally check the Hal Higdon intermediate and advanced programs as a general guideline, but I put together my own training program. The key behind my training philosophy is to slowly and gradually build up mileage for the marathon.  In contrast to the program I followed for my first marathon (a typical 12 week beginner’s program), I spent nine months slowly building up my mileage.  Importantly, the real mileage number I focused on was my monthly, not weekly, mileage total.  My goal was to add about 10% more miles each month until I peaked the month before the marathon.  By the standards of serious marathoners, my mileage was fairly shabby.  By my standards, the 185 mile month I hit was more than I had ever done before.  In addition to miles, I focused early in the training cycle on track and hill intervals and core work.  Later in the training cycle I focused on 8 – 12 mile marathon paced runs.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

I do run with a running club for about half my runs.  I don’t have a coach.

Did cross training play a role in your training? Yes.  If so, how?

I try to get in a bit of strength and core work when I have a few extra minutes.  I also play basketball (my first love) one night a week.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how? 

Yes.  As mentioned above, early on in my training cycle I focused on getting fast at short distances.  I did intervals at 400m, 800m and 1M intervals.  I gradually replaced most of these workouts with longer tempo and marathon-paced runs.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

Take the long view.  Unless you are blessed with an inordinate amount of natural talent achieving a BQ simply takes a lot of time and a lot of work.  There are no quick fixes.  If you enjoy running and you’re willing to slowly build up miles, you’ll have a shot to qualify.

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Race Autopsy: 2015 Brooklyn Half Marathon

Pre Quote

Clearly, I am no Prefontaine.

Yet at mile 7 of this weekend’s Brooklyn Half, this quote was going through my mind. I was intentionally holding back, running 9:30s when my body was screaming to run sub 9. It felt silly, and strangely dishonest, I was holding back not to have something in the tank I was doing so because I have other dreams, dreams of finally breaking four hours at the Vermont City Marathon next weekend.

So I followed the game plan. I held back fro the first ten as best I could average around a 9:35 mile, then I opened it up a bit for the last three. The rain started, Nas’s Get Down came up on my playlist, and I started running 8:30s.

It was wonderful and strangely easy.

Unofficial time: 2:04:12

It almost felt like cheating.

This weekend, though, this weekend is going to be different. At Vermont City, I’ll be giving my best. All of it.

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The BQ(Q) – Ted B

So I posted on the runner’s world forum asking people if they wanted to take part in the BQ(Q). I got in trouble. Apparently Rodale doesn’t approve of such things. Oh well, at least it got us this great BQ(Q) from Ted who qualified at age 53. 

Thanks for taking the time, Ted! I know your story will be an inspiration to other master’s runners.


Sex: M

Age (at the time of first BQ): 53

Height: 5’7”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 167

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN on October 3, 2010. (My most recent BQ was in the Boston Marathon last month).

What was your finishing time?


Tell us a little about the race:

It was my 6th marathon and my 3rd attempt to BQ. My first marathon was in the Fall of 2008. I ran another in the Spring of 2009. I first tried to BQ at the NYC Marathon in October 2009 and just missed by 31 seconds. I was disappointed but knew I’d given it everything I had that day. Just didn’t quite have the endurance to hold on at the end. I tried a second time in Virginia Beach in the Spring of 2010 and missed by 24 minutes – OUCH! Talk about disappointment. It was just a hot and humid day and one of those unexpected terrible race outcomes. So I trained hard for Twin Cities and went into it with confidence. They dub it the Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America and it was pretty awesome. It helped that almost everything went right that day. The starting temps were in the upper 30s and it was sunny (ideal running weather for me). Fans and volunteers were terrific. I was in good shape and had a plan for even splits of 8:08 for the first 20 miles, then some slowdown for a hilly portion from mile 20-23, then to bring it home. I ran one mile split under 8:00 minute pace (@ 7:55), the 2 slowest miles @ 8:16 and 8:17, and all the rest between 8:00 and 8:05.   When I got to the 25 mile marker and looked at my Garmin, I was completely psyched because I knew I was going to make it with time to spare – and it felt glorious when I crossed that finish line. Mission accomplished! I ran my first marathon at age 51. I’m now 57 and have run 27 marathons, including 4 Bostons.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

2 years

Did you run in college or high school?

I ran track my freshman year of high school, but concentrated on baseball, football and basketball after that. I played a lot of sports (for fun & fitness only) in college and throughout adulthood but never ran races.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

Just guessing it was about 2,000 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

1,000 miles a year for 2 consecutive years.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?


Did you follow a canned program?

I used a friend’s program that was similar to Higdons for a cycle and then trained with the Pfitzinger 18/55.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

I ran with several friends who were long time marathoners who showed me the ropes and helped me build mileage and eventually with an informal but fairly large local running group (who I still run with today).

Did cross training play a role in your training?

Not really then. But I do more now and find it very helpful.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes, I incorporated fartleks, intervals and tempo runs into my routine along with slower long runs and recovery runs.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

It took a lot of work for me to get my first BQ. I dealt with some heel problems for a while that hampered my training, and which I attribute to putting too much strain on my feet before they had adapted to the pounding. But now I don’t have any issues and have run 12 BQs out of my 21 marathons. I PR’d (3:27) at the marathon distance in 2012, and have PR’d at the 5k, 10k and HM distance this past year. If you are a decent runner, and are willing to work at it, and that includes training smart, you can get your BQ, even if you started running in your 50s like me.

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Totals for the Week Ending 5.18.2015

Run Miles for the week: 18.1 in 2:53:13
Run Miles for the year: 570.8
Projected total miles for the year: 1509.7
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k run miles 44.5/6.4
Run Streak: 0
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: n/a
Prospect Park loops for the week: 2
Prospect Park loops for the year: 33
Bike Miles for the week: 0
Bike Miles for the year 202.5
Projected total bike miles 535.6
Weekly/Daily averages to reach 2k bike miles 55.9/8
Swim Yards for the week: 0
Total Swim Yards for the year: 2700
Body weight work 00:00:00
Total Exercise Time ~3:00:00
Average Weight 179
Books Finished: 1(City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett)
Books by Women 0
Total books for the year 19
Total books by women 9
Percentage of total books read which were written by women 50%
Books per week to reach 52 1.00

Notes: One more week before Vermont and, like the idiot that I am, I ran the Brooklyn Half. I’ll be posting a longer report on that race later, but suffice to say, I finished uninjured, which was all I was really looking to do. Onward to Vermont!



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The Brooklyn Half Marathon Preparty and the Dueling Cliches of Being an Aging Man in a Transforming Borough

Last night, after I went to pick up my bib for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, I posted this on Instagram:

Is there any greater sign that a man has become old then complaining about a party? Probably not. But something about the contrived Brookly-ness of the Brooklyn Half Pre Party really gets to me.

In part it is because they host it on a pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park, a good fifteen minute walk from the train. It is terribly inconvenient and I’m convinced they host it there to encourage runners to spend more time (and money) at the party.

But I also hate it because of the food trucks, beer, and DJs; the photo-ops with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, and the vast array of merchandise for sale with “Brooklyn” on it.

Its all just a little too much.

Of course, all of this hoopla for a half marathon is, in part, because Brooklyn is having a moment – a sickening moment where it’s teetering on the edge of cool and clichéd. It’s a time when the hedge funds guys still rub shoulders with the municipal workers and teachers; where artisanal bakers can sell to graphic designers and start-up entrepreneurs; where everyone can grow a beard, but very few can afford the rent.

I love this place, I’ve lived here longer than I have lived anywhere else, but as another Brooklynite* said once its “bringing me down”. 

And to me, for whatever reason, the Brooklyn Half Pre-Party is a representation of just how out of control this is all getting — and of how close it all is to falling into pure cliché.

Because you see, big time half marathons are not cool. They never will be. Half marathons are the perfect distance for the average person, long enough to provide a sense of accomplishment, but not so long as to take over your life. They are, by design, run-of-the-mill. Sure midnight halfs, like the one put on by Orchard Street can be cool. But really, if you want cool, you have to go much further, or much shorter.  Half marathons are for the average jogger, the guy with the job, and the kid, and the mortgage.

Guys like me.

And we’re not cool.

Yet we’re also the future of Brooklyn.


Old guys, with child, at last year's Brooklyn Half.

Old guys, with child, at last year’s Brooklyn Half. Note aging punker with tattoos and beard.

Still, what the hell is wrong with me? Who begrudges people a good time on a sunny afternoon in park?

I do, apparently.

And in the end, perhaps that says more about me, and my nostalgia for a Brooklyn long gone, than it says about the goddamn pre-party.

Whatever, who knows. Tomorrow this old man is going to run, which is what the point of this is supposed to be anyway.


*Who owns a goddamn wine bar by the way. 

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Friday Inspiration: Running in the Rain

The Brooklyn Half is tomorrow and, while I have a marathon the following week, and I’m battling a weird hamstring issue, and its going to rain, I’m still going to do it. This is year three for me and the Brooklyn Half. I can’t miss it.

Tomorrow should be warm, and wet. Kinda like it was during this Hanson Brooks Half Marathon training session. I won’t be running this fast, but I will be running.

Lets get wet tomorrow!

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Review: Jurek’s Eat and Run

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
Scott Jurek
Its rare that I’m without a book, but it happens. Last summer, it happened when I was on vacation in Vermont. Little dude was sleeping better than expected, and I had more time to read, so low and behold, three days into a seven day trip, I was out of books. I was running a lot that week, and had just finished Bernd’s Why We Run.  I was inspired to keep the running theme rolling. Heading to the local bookstore, I browsed the relatively small running book section and grabbed Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run, his combo memoir/ cook book.

Jurek in 2014

I have to say, I didn’t have high hopes. I’ve long admired Jurek as a runner – he has one of the most storied careers in ultra-running — but Jurek is an evangelical vegan and, after spending much of my twenties eating seitan and drinking soy milk, I’m not much for vegan lectures.  Thankfully, this book isn’t a polemic. Instead, it’s a moving memoir of a poor kid from Minnesota, from a family plagued by health problems who, through the usual mixture of determination, hard work and luck, became one of the most celebrated ultra runners in history.

The book is broken up into chapters, followed by recipes linked to the chapter’s theme. Jurek’s early years get vegan versions or mid-western staples; his chapter on running with the Tarahumara gets a Mexican influenced recipe, etc. The recipes look good, for vegan food, yet I haven’t made any of them.

But recipes are not why anyone is reading this book.  You’re reading it learn about Jurek’s adventures, as a multiple winner of Western States, a winner of Badwater, a winner of the Spartathon, the U.S. record holder (for a time) at the 24 hour race… and well, I could go on. There was a time when Jurek just dominated ultra-running and he recounts those years here with humor and thoughtfulness about what pushed him to such extremes as well as what it taught him, and cost him.  It isn’t all roses for a fulltime mountain runner, and Jurek’s honesty in dealing with the low points is admirable and makes up for the basically work-a-day prose.

If you’re interested in ultra-running, you’ll want to read this one. I’m giving this the recommended for the enthusiasts tag.

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