Meredith’s Story of Qualifying for Boston Marathon

Name: Meredith

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 29

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 110

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Chicago

Tell us a little about the race. Flat, fast, tons of support and mental distraction. was great weather the year I went as well. Was first marathon so wasn’t sure what to expect but thought it was awesome and I went back again the following year.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? I was a 3 sport athlete in high school, college basketball and soccer player but never long distance runner. Joined track shack program 5k/10k after moving to FL 6 years post college (still playing lots of indoor soccer). Went from 5k/10k to joining sat long runs for fun. From there I liked the long running.

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? no idea

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? no idea

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? Yes, Part of track shack program.

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

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

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Tempo one day and track one day or hills one day with track the other. And long runs on weekends.

My more successful marathoning and much faster marathoning has come 11 years later. Longer tempos, pick ups during long runs (barely any track work) and increased mileage.

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

For me the mileage build during base has been really helpful in getting stronger. I don’t do a ton of all our hard speed, but a lot more sustained longer efforts, longer runs during base, and pick ups during long runs to not let pace get stagnant.

My first marathon was a 3:38 in 2005 (29 years old). Down to 3:20 in 2011 (36), and 3:07 in 2013 (38) – after living in Boone for almost 2 years – I swear elevation and always having hills involved was huge help in addition to hiring a coach in 2011 and increasing mileage.

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

Chödrön’s Start Where You Are


Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

Pema Chodron
An accessible and clear introduction to foundational principles of Buddhism told through a series of Tibetan Buddhist maxims. Chödrön writes with compassion and clarity, and the structure of the book is elegant in its simplicity, taking one maxim at a time and reflecting on it.

I should have nothing but praise for this, especially as its considered one of the great introductory books out there. But it didn’t resonate with me. I prefer my Buddhism served up with the irony and anxiety of a Dan Harris, or the science of a Robert Wright. But that’s just me. If Tibetan Buddhism interests you, especially its aspects which focus on love and compassion, then this is a fine introduction. Perhaps I’ll return to it if someday meditation turns me into slightly less of an asshole.

Quick Thought on Weight Loss

I’m trying to stay off twitter, but still want to write (and, apparently, share) my random thoughts. Here’s one:

Since my second kid was born, I’ve put on a little weight. Not a ton, but some. At the height of my running prowess, such as it was, I was about 170 pounds. These days I’m floating around in the low 190s. I’m six feet tall, so twenty five pounds is noticeable, but not life altering. My clothes still fit, but a bit snugger. My face is fuller,  but not pudgy. Horrifically, I can feel some jiggle when I run, but at least I can still run.

This is the current state of things:

Me. circa July 2018

I’m trying to reverse this. But with two kids and a demanding career, it isn’t easy. Most of the change has to happen not through my old stand by – high mileage, but instead through  my biggest challenge — controlling what I eat.

All of this is made even harder by the fact that I’m 43 years old now. Old enough that the metabolism is really starting to slow, and every poor food choice goes right to the gut.

So, I’m doing my best to follow the diet protocol described by Dr. Valter Longo. Its simple, its intuitive, and its showing some modest results.

It’s also leaving me hungry.

And that’s fine. I need to remember that if I’m eating a snack and two meals in a twelve hour window, that’s significantly less than I was eating before. And a body at rest likes to stay at rest. Once you get to 195 pounds, your body wants to stay at 195 pounds. Changes to that are going to be hard. They’re going to require some unpleasant hours when you’re not starving, but you could definitely eat.  I need to get through that, I need to find a new equilibrium. I need to be hungry.

As Dr. Peter Attia said somewhere, if our ancestors couldn’t perform complex tasks while hungry, we wouldn’t be here today. I’m trying to remember that while I write this memo on an empty stomach.

Ward’s Men We Reaped

Men We Reaped: A Memoir 
Jesmyn Ward

There may be other American writers working today who are as gifted as Ward, but I have a hard time believing there are any more gifted. From fiction to memoir, Ward consistently leaves me at the edge of tears at the raw emotion of what she is sharing, and the technical brilliance with which she does it.
This is a memoir. It is the story memorializing the dead men from her hometown in rural Louisiana. All the men here were young, all died unnatural deaths, and all were black. None of that should surprise you, young black men in our country die at shameful rates. How this comes about is what Ward is struggling to explore.

The story focuses on the untimely death of Ward’s brother, but it comes to his death last, as a sort of culmination of a series of events, all related in one way of another, that hit Ward’s community over the span of a few short years. The book is pitch perfect in balancing reportage with anguish, making us feel the loses Ward suffered, personally, with every death, while also not losing sight of the larger story here – that our society sends young black men to the grave with alarming regularity.

All of Ward’s books are worth reading. She is truly among the best living American authors, but this one feels the most necessary, the most urgent, of what she has done so far. If you’re going to start anywhere with Ward’s work, I suggest you start here. But keep going, she has much to share.

Recommended.

Marc G’s story of Qualifying for Boston

Name: Marc G

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 26

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’9

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 165 lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Carlsbad

Tell us a little about the race. First ever marathon, first year of running. Told a girl I would break 3 hours and she was waiting at the finish for me. Went out in 1:22 or so feeling like a rock star, finished in 2:59 seeing purple elephants flash before my eyes. But I did it. Didn’t run another one for well over 10 years. Bet if I would have run 3:00 instead I would have run another the same year.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 1 year

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 3000 (including childhood play I guess)

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 3

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? Maybe I went to the gym, surfed, and swam a bit

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Our club did speed work one day a week

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

Boston Qualifier Scott’s Story

Name: Scott

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 27

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5′ 10”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 140

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Erie

Tell us a little about the race.

Ran 2:58 relatively even split. Flat course. A little warm and sunny (mid-60 F)

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 10 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 5000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 2

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? No

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

Did very little to no cross training.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Did little speedwork. Shortest were some 400 repeats.

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

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire: Kevin McCabe

A great, detailed story of qualifying for Boston. Thanks Kevin for taking the time to write this up!

 

Name: Kevin McCabe

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):  36

Height (at the time of first BQ): 6’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 184.4

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Peak to Creek Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. Peak to Creek is great race in Western NC. It’s a net down hill race (Total Ascent: 285 ft, Total Descent: 2946 ft). It is about 6 miles of rolling hills to start (pace yourself in this section) because the next ~8.5 miles are steeply downhilll and you will get any lost time back. The next ~8.5 are flat, and the last 4 are slightly down hill. It’s run in Pisgah National forest along Wilson Creek and is quite beautiful.

My strategy was to run 7:11 over the first 6, then 6:50 down the hill, hang on for the next 8.5 at 7:11 and try to speed up on the downhill finish so I’d come in around 3:08. I ended up running about 7:20 to start, then about 6:43 down the mountain, but had so much energy left I ran about 7:00 pace for the next 10 miles, so I was able to ease up to about 7:20 into the finish to keep from blowing up over the last few miles and finished in 3:06:34 (a minute and a half faster than I had expected).

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 7 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 6,400

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1600

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 18 races >5k, 18 5k’s

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? No

 

If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Historically followed Hal Higdon but had to modify due to heavy race volume

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Somewhat, I had been a triathlete for 6 years prior to BQ and had even done an easy effort half-ironman 6 weeks before. I think adding the swimming and biking helped me recover from the huge volume I ran in the spring time and huge intensity over the summer.

However, in the year prior to my BQ I had focused primarily on running. 7 months before my BQ I had completed my first 100 mile event which had required me to run ~250 miles a month as training. As a comparison, I had never exceeded 145 in a month training for a marathon.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? After the 100 miler in April I took about 6 weeks off completely. But starting in May my local run club hosts an all comers track meet. I spent 12 weeks attending every track meet running all 4 running events and the race walk event. I managed to set track PR’s in every distance except the 200m (100m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, mile, 3000m, 5000m). I was only running about 20-25 miles a week during the summer (primarily due to heat in NC). But every Saturday I would run a 5Km race.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Training for the 100 mile event really opened my eyes to what a solid endurance base can do for your speed. I also learned that in order to run fast, you have to run slow. Training for the 100 my usual long run pace was between 10:30-13:00 min/mile but I’d be running between 3-4 hours. My “fast” runs were between 8:45-9:30 (~130-155 HR). During training I was worried that I was losing speed. However, during my training I ran a very tough train marathon in 3:33, the next weekend I ran 2 marathons back-to-back. In all 3 marathons I started with an easy pace and picked up speed in the second half negative splitting two of them.

I had previously run a 3:16 and 3:24 marathon but faded BADLY in both. The increased mileage/endurance base helped me keep from fading in my BQ. After I had built up a sufficient endurance base, I worked on building up my speed. From there, I spent about 6 weeks balancing the two.

Finally, it took 3 years of work for me to get to my BQ from the time I set it as my goal. I didn’t have a necessarily linear path to achieving it, and may have been aided by a coach. I’m proud that I was able to get there on my own through trial and error and sheer dumb luck. I feel there were soooo many factors that helped me get there that this form wouldn’t fit but I listed the major factors in my training. Below are some additional factors in roughly descending order of impact:

1) BIG endurance motor – training for the 100 made the marathon seem easier and built up the aerobic motor
2) speed work – increasing speed while maintaining cadence
3) varied pace during training—really slow during long runs(10+min/mi), fast during speed workouts (<6:20 min/mi), in between for group runs (7:40-8:30 min/mi)
4) eliminate alcohol, caffiene and reduce sugar intake during training
5) Rest – used fitness tracker to monitor resting heart rate and hours of sleep per night/week
6) consistency – had 3 separate groups of friends on different days to run with (all were faster than I and could BQ by 20-30 minutes)
7) walking – I added a 2 mile walk every afternoon during work
8) diet – I ate fairly healthy but it was hard given the quantity necessary
9) data – I started keeping track of and analyzing my data (mileage per wee/month/year, resting HR, weight, etc)