The BQ(Q) – Mark Shipley

Name

Mark Shipley (@TheCranberryKid)

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

37

Height:

5’10”

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

161

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Erie Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

I’m sure many of you are looking for a race report here, and I will get to that. However, this one begs for more than a race report. It needs a history lesson. I started running in 2003 with the goal of running the Marine Corps Marathon as a bucket list item. It was an experience I will never forget and not a pleasant one beyond 16 miles. I finished in 5:10:57, but I decided I liked this running thing and kept at it. I kept taking chunks off of my time but kept chasing the 4 hour barrier until marathon #6, the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon where I ran 3:52:52. From there it was on. I wanted Boston. It’s been one hell of a chase since then. I took my first attempt at Wineglass in 2010, when I needed 3:15:59 but came in at 3:25:01. My next shot came last year at Towpath when I thought I was going to do it even with needing 3:10:00 or better. But that too was not to be when I finished in 3:20:10. That left a very bad taste in my mouth, so a few weeks later I ran the Inland Trail Marathon for my previous PR in 3:18:38. That wasn’t a Boston attempt. I just wanted to run a solid race. Then came Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day this year. I knew I had it. That is until the brutal wind killed me when I completely crashed. Knowing I needed to change something if I was going to make a serious challenge to my BQ time, I committed to losing the extra weight I was carrying and train to the best of my ability. Erie was going to be it. So today not only did I beat my Boston qualifying time by 4:52, but I also beat my first marathon time by MORE THAN 2 HOURS!!! I think that’s just about as big in my mind as qualifying for Boston. And because Boston registration opens up again in the morning for everyone with a qualifying time with less than 5 minutes to spare, I know I’ll be in. With nearly 5 minutes of cushion, I won’t have to sweat it. And the best part is that I’m also in for 2015!!!
My detailed race report is below, but here’s a brief recap (splits are at the bottom). I ran this almost exactly to plan. If I hadn’t had a very brief bout of hamstring cramps at mile 25, I would have shaved a few more seconds, but that was the only hiccup in a nearly perfect race for me. As it was, it barely cost me any time. I just couldn’t let it fly until after 26 because I was afraid of the cramps coming back.
Pre-race: Because it was chilly/cold (low 50s with 10mph wind), I stayed in my car as long as possible before the race. About 40 minutes before the start, I made the slow trek to the start, got in the long bathroom line, checked my bag, and then headed to the start. There wasn’t much time after that before the gun, so I timed it perfectly. I met up with a few of my friends and running buddies, wished them luck, got lined up, listened to the national anthems, Canada and US, and then we were off.
Early miles: This was all about ticking off the miles SLOWLY. It was a fight to keep my pace under control, but I did a very good job at it. The 2nd mile was a little too fast, but I gave that back in miles 3 and 4. Everything went according to plan. It was also good to get to talk to Lou P. a few times before we separated. The only thing I really noticed during these miles was how many people were ahead of me. As the half marathon started 30 minutes later, these were all marathoners. There must have been 200 people in front of me, and I knew I wasn’t that far back in the pack. I figured I would see many of them again soon as I ran past, and I was right as I finished 61st overall.
Miles 5-10: Somewhere thru here I met up with 2 brothers who had nearly the same race strategy as me. We ran a couple miles together, jabbering away. That was great until mile 8 when I realized that they were slowing me down from my goal pace. That’s why you see my pace drift off and then pick back up almost too fast for mile 9. After that I settled back in through 10. Again, there was not much to these miles. I felt very strong but kept telling myself to respect the distance and not push yet.
Miles 10-13.1: Right about the 10 mile mark, I caught up with a group that was all aiming for 3:05. Hardly a word was said amongst the 8-10 of us, but it was nice running with company. Even our footfalls were in synch. My goal for the first half was 1:33:28, and I ended up coming through at 1:33:33. Darn near perfect! It was also great to see so many people cheering for us as we came through the start/finish area. The one thing that sticks out in my mind is Jen and Michael on the side yelling at me. I couldn’t make out much because of the noise, but I did hear Michael yell “13 miles to Boston!” as I ran on. So very true.
Miles 13.1-16: Where did everyone go? No sooner had we gone through the halfway point when everyone from that group was gone. Yes, I picked up my pace as planned, but only 5 s/mi. Only 1 other guy stayed with me, and he was gone by 15. This section was the most boring and loooong part of the race. It was on a stretch heading back to the entrance to the park and the turnaround. I just wanted to get to that turn because I knew that from there I could start letting it go. Still doing great on pace here.
Miles 16-20: This is where it all started getting mental for me. The first part was thinking about getting past 18. For whatever reason, it’s 18 miles, not 20, that is my Achilles heel in marathons. If it’s going to go south for me, that’s where it happens. So to the 18 mile marker, that was my sole focus. After that, I did a quick body check and realized that I still felt awesome! I was ready for the push to the finish, but I knew I still had nearly an hour of running to do. And that’s where the battle between my brain and legs started. When I saw my friend Jinny somewhere between 19 and 20, she asked how I was doing. I responded with “I feel great, and I’m about to unleash hell.” That’s exactly how I felt. I wanted to GOOOOOOO, but I knew it had to wait. Get to 22 I kept telling myself. Don’t really push until then.
Miles 20-24: After 21 I just couldn’t contain myself anymore. After constantly seeing 6:3x as my pace and pulling back, I let myself go. To keep my mind occupied, I kept doing the math to figure out how slow I could go and still make 3:10:00 in worst case scenario of disaster striking. I wasn’t worried that it was going to happen because I still felt great. But it kept my mind occupied and off of the fatigue that was starting to set in. Up to this point, I had done everything right in the race. My execution was spot on, and I was tracking a few seconds ahead of my goal. So I had a choice to make, and ultimately this is where I made my only slight miscalculation of the day. I took a gel right before the start and then again every 40 minutes of the race. That worked great as my last one came at 2:40. The decision was about my Endurolytes. I take one every 30 minutes in a marathon, so my next one was scheduled for 3:00. If I waited until then, it wouldn’t have a chance to do any good since I was staring at almost exactly 3:05. I decided to push it up to 2:50. I should have aimed for 2:45.
Miles 25-26: At this point I was really feeling the fatigue but my pace was staying on target. It’s just when you have run 24 miles, you get a bit tired. It was somewhere around here where Jinny showed back up on her bike. She stayed with me to the end, and I am so thankful that she did. While I didn’t say much back to her, having a friendly face and an encouraging voice down the stretch made a huge impact. She was also there to encourage me through what happened next. Bam! Both hamstrings. It probably looked like one of those old westerns where the cowboy is shot in the back. Both legs started to cramp at the same time. But these weren’t debilitating cramps. I broke stride for about 100 yards but never stopped running. Come on Endurolyte! Do your job! Slowly, slowly, slowly it worked. The cramps eased, but they scared me enough that I backed off to over 7:00 pace. Just keep it in the low 7’s and you’re golden is all I kept saying to myself. If you do, you still have a shot at 3:05.
To the finish: Can I get 3:04:5x? It’s gonna be damn close. I did a good job running the tangents, but I was still a little long. But how much? 26.2 would get me in under 3:05. 26.3 wouldn’t. But what in between? It was at this point that I saw my friend Daryle. She’s one of my long-time running buddies from my DC TNT days, and she had run the half. I hear her say “Don’t look at your watch. Just run!” So I did. Cramps be damned! Sprint (or some reasonable facsimile thereof)! Now I’m in the throngs again. This part was a complete blur. I see Jon and then a host of other Steel City friends. They’re all yelling. I hear them but keep running and focused on the finish. The clock comes into view. It’s on 3:05:0x already, but I have 7 seconds to spare chip time. Tick, tick, tick. Nope, 3:05:06 on my watch, 3:05:08 I found out later officially. But I did it. I immediately knew I had punched my ticket for Boston, not just as a qualifier but as going to be accepted and running in 2014. And for that matter 2015 too because we’re in that qualifying window as well. I let out some sort of primal scream after crossing the mats, and then I don’t remember much. I know Michael came over to congratulate me, and then there were a few more. Even now it’s still all a blur. What a day! What a race! What a journey! But I finally did it!
If you’re still with me, here are my splits. If you want to see how this compares with my goal, check out my pace band, http://www.dailymile.com/people/TheCranberryKid/entries/25038519. I was 5 seconds off for the first half, 7 seconds off for the second. I’d say that’s pretty good.
1: 7:13
2: 7:07
3: 7:20 (I think 3 and 4 were off individually but accurate when combined)
4: 7:10
5: 7:09
6: 7:05
7: 7:11
8: 7:13
9: 6:54
10: 7:08
11: 6:57
12: 7:05
13: 7:09
14: 6:53
15: 6:57
16: 7:01
17: 7:00
18: 6:55
19: 6:59
20: 6:51
21: 6:59
22: 6:46
23: 6:54
24: 6:54
25: 7:11
26: 7:11
.3: 1:55 (6:30 pace)

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

10 years

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

15K miles?

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

2500

 

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

~20

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

Yes, Pfitzinger Douglass 18/70

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

Yes

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

Not really, I didn’t do much of it then. That’s since changed, and core and strength work have helped me lower my times further despite becoming a masters runner.

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

Speed, not really. It’s long tempo runs that did the trick.

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

Keep grasping at it. You can get there. It may take years and years, but don’t give up. Nearly everyone who can complete a marathon can get a BQ if they want it. They simply have to have the desire to do everything it takes to get there.

 

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Review: Desai’s Marx’s Revenge

Marx’s Revenge: The Resurgence of Capitalism and the Death of Statist Socialism

Meghnad Desai

I’m genuinely surprised I don’t hear this book talked about more.

On a macro level, Marx’s Revenge makes the argument that Marx would have welcomed globalization (the left’s boogie man of the day in 2004 when this came out) as the evitable next step in capitalism. This is a thought provoking idea, but looking back now, more than ten years after I read this, it isn’t what sticks out with me. What I remember is that this was also a surprisingly good introduction to the world of classic economics (Smith, Ricardo, and Keynes) and continental thought (Hegel).

I read this at age 29, having just started an undergraduate course of study in economics and philosophy. I found Desai’s explanations of Hegel, Smith, and Ricardo, and how they influenced Marx to be extremely helpful. Concise enough to be approachable to the general reader, but serious enough to really help me understand the issues at play. I was taking David Harvey’s Capital class when I read this, and my god was this a helpful tool in my quest to keep up with the much greater knowledge of grad students sitting around me.

I really enjoyed this when it came out and even pressed it into the hands of a few friends. I wonder what the much more pro-market 2016 version of myself would think of it today. My guess is the history would stand up — the theory, perhaps not so much.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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Review: Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin

The latest in a long line of classics I should have read years ago. The latest in a series of reviews o books so important, so pivotal, that it’s absurd to try to write a review.

Still, I’ll give it a go. This, Baldwin’s combination letter to his nephew / meditation on what it means to be a black man in America, is stunning in its use of language, gut wrenching in the in the way it lays bare the racial wounds at the center of the American experience, and inspiring in its pure energy. My god was missing out. Part memoir, part reportage, part meditation, the parallels between this and Coates’s recent (and also brilliant) Between the World and Me are obvious. Both books are brilliant, and both books should be read.

Reading this book right after finishing Marable’s biography on Malcolm X is also illuminating. The Nation of Islam plays a large role in Baldwin’s examination of the way Christianity and Islam have affected the black experience in America, and specifically in Harlem. Baldwin is clearly intrigued by the ideas of the NOI, though he comes to them with a healthy skepticism. I wonder if his feelings about these sections changed after his friend Malcolm was pushed out.

You can’t read something like this and not be a bit changed. It’s that powerful. This is a brilliant work, but you probably knew that already. I wish I knew it earlier.

Recommended. (duh).

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The BQ(Q) – Tom Rushton

Name

Tom Rushton

Sex:

Tom Rushton

Age (at the time of first BQ):

36

Height:

5’8”

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

157

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Edmonton Marathon 2016

Tell us a little about the race.

I had planned to run the Ottawa Marathon (May) to qualify but as things happened I had to work that weekend. Turned out to be a good thing as record heat almost cancelled the Ottawa race. I put off finding another qualifier until it was almost to late and signed up for Edmonton (late August) a little last minute. As this was my first road marathon and my first road race period in over 2 years I was a little worried about pacing so I found some good people and stuck with them until the mid point (1:28:44) then took over pacing and tried to be the ‘cheer-leader’ for the sub-3 hour crew, sadly the group thinned and I was the only one that made that goal. My objective was to run 2:59:xx to get under the 10 minute cut-off but make it as easy as possible since I was on vacation that week and had some long runs planned in the backcountry rockies that I didn’t want to miss. Happily everything went according to plan and I was able to continue things no problem.

I’ve done trail marathons and ultras so the distance wasn’t a concern and also posted a 33 minute 10k a few years before (my last road race) so qualifying was only a ‘formality’ although I did want to respect the distance, and it is a much different beast than a trail. I did a 50k about a month before and it was so much easier!

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

13 years

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

5500

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

600

 

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

1

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

no

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

Yes

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

Sometimes I swim, bike or climb, but just randomly.

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

I usually run most of my runs at a quite low intensity, but have good natural speed, so about 2 weeks before I made sure to do some work above the ‘race pace’ of the marathon when I was on the roads. For Boston I will do a lot more targeted speed work.

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

I felt that the others I was running with in the race all were running to close to their maximum during the first half, although I was making a sincere effort to go easy, it was still a little harder than I’d like at the end. Having a good aerobic base of low intensity mileage really paid off big time for me.

Also I enjoy run with groups and do that often, during the qualifying race I found myself thinking about things in ways I never would in a training run (Is it normal I’m breathing like this? Is my stomach ok? what about now!?) so finding a group and just chatting a bit (it’s marathon pace, you should be able to do that at least in the first half!) stopped me from that and kept me in the moment and remembering what I like about the sport.

Starting easy is really important, I was shocked at how many runners ran 10 minutes or more slower on the second half – and even more that started way fast in the first km. Start slow, and you’ll see better results than hammering the first piece!

 

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Review Gonzales’s The Spitboy Rule

The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band

Michelle Cruz Gonzales

Ok, so I know Michelle, the author of this book, and some of the other members of Spitboy, the band at the center of this story. There was a time, a long long while ago, when we were all close. It would be really easy for me to make this review a walk down my own memory lane, but I’m going to resist that.

This is Michele story, told in a series of interlocking vignettes centered around her time in Spitboy, one of the pivotal bands of the early 1990s Bay Area punk rock scene. But the book is about much more than Spitboy. It’s the story of a Xicana from a small town in California, the daughter of a single mom, who discovers punk rock, moves the Bay Area, and forms one of the most groundbreaking punk rock bands of the 1990s.

Spitboy was a band of fierce women who played hardcore infused with passion, politics, and love. I, like many, were incredibly inspired by the band. Its fascinating to read these stories from their days touring the world, struggling against the sexism prevalent in the punk rock scene, while also forming profound relationships with each other and those they came into contact with. Today Spitboy is remembered mainly as a pioneering all women punk band, and they were that, for sure. But they were more. They were generous and kind. They were inspiring in their aspirations for, and dedication to, DIY punk culture, and they were a hell of a lot of fun to see live.

While there are plenty of band war stories here, it wasn’t always fighting the man and loading the van. As with any band on the road, there were conflicts. Michelle, Xicana and raised working class, came to the Bay Area punk rock scene with a very different life story from many in the then mostly white, mostly middle class, scene. This led to scores of painful moments, many of which rang all too familiar to me. Michelle faced everything from the casual erasure of her identity to blatant racism and classism. It is at times hard to reconcile the political aspirations of the punk rock scene with the treatment Michelle endured.

But those are the facts, and we need to face them.

Michelle treats all of this, the good and the bad, with real grace. She calls out the many instances in which the class differences in the punk scene were glossed over, and the scores of times her identity was erased. She does so with a compassion, honesty, thoughtfulness, I find inspiring.

This is a powerful story, which captures a time and place in the punk rock world which few others have documented. I’m so glad I was privileged enough to know Michelle, and the other Spitboy women, and I’m so glad she wrote this book.

Recommended.

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There Are Scenes He Describes That Still Haunt Me — Coogan’s On the Blanket

On the Blanket: The Story of the IRA’s Dirty Protest

Tim Pat Coogan

If Tim Pat Coogan isn’t the world’s greatest authority on the I.R.A., he’s definitely on the short list. A reporter for years and year with close ties to catholic ghettos of Northern Ireland, he has the sources and knowledge few others can claim. Unfortunately, he isn’t a very compelling writer. His magnum opus history of the IRA is (as the wags would say) exhaustive and exhausting. The better book for the general overview is, I think, Armed Struggle.

But this, Coogan’s books focused on the notorious “dirty protests” of the IRA prisoners is another story. Perhaps because the subject matter is so compelling, or perhaps because it’s a relative tight window of events, the book is captivating.

There are scenes he describes that still haunt me.

The dirty protests, for those not raised amongst the stories of such things, was a protest by imprisoned IRA members. It began with a refusal to wear prison uniforms as a protest against their being considered criminals, and not prisoners of war.  But it soon escalated into a bizarre and grotesque protest movement that found the prisoners wearing nothing but a blanket, and smearing their cells with their own feces and urine. Startling in its visceral-ness, and moving in the dedication these men and women showed, the dirty protest caught the attention of the world and soon, many of those “on the blanket” would take things to the next level – hunger strike giving us the martyred saint Bobby Sands and others.

I was raised in an Irish Catholic home with mixed feelings about the I.R.A. Christmas was a time for uncles talking tough, and others cautioning restraint. When I was a kid, the dirty protests were one of those things the grownups would drop in conversation, with references so vague, I couldn’t really catch them. It wasn’t till I was an adult that I’d understand the hold they had on some people’s emotions. You can see why. These men and women were ready to give their first their dignity, and eventually, their lives, for the cause. That’s a powerful thing.

It’s a fascinating chapter in Irish history and, while I read this book more than a decade ago, I recall Coogan telling it well.  You should read it to see what some are willing to sacrifice, and how they’ll go about doing it.

Recommended.

Two IRA men

Two IRA men “On the Blanket”

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Your Occasional Stoic — Knowledge of Self

Not observing what is in the mind of another a man has seldom been seen to be unhappy; but those who do not observe the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.

-Meditation 2:8

Others are unknowable, you know this. It should not sadden you. But not knowing yourself? That’s a problem.

Like many of the meditations, its easy to read this as a call to meditation. Meditation, as we conceive it, would likely have been foreign to Aurelius, but a certain type of mindfulness? Of self-knowledge? I think that is what he is getting at here.

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