The BQ(Q) – Paul F

Paul F has a story similar to mine including a long road to a BQ. Paul was kind enough to include a race report of his BQ race in his response. Thanks for taking part, Paul!

Name: Paul F

Sex: Male
Age (at the time of first BQ): 54
Height:  6′

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 158

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tell us a little about the race:

Baystate 2010, see last question for race report

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

6 years, no prior running, no sports in school, no athletic ability. Briefly, I started running to lose weight (nearing 200 pounds). That morphed into running marathons.

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


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


Approximately how many races did you run in that year?


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

Loosely followed Pfitzinger 18/55. Mainly just followed miles prescribed running mostly easy with very little speedwork or tempo work, mainly used racing for speed work. I follow Jeff’s training mantra of “run lots, mostly easy, some hard”

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

Some long runs with local running club, no coaching.

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

No. No cross-training at all for Baystate. This was not by design, just could not squeeze in crosstraining with running & life. In previous marathons, I did some crosstraining on bicycle and swimming.

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

Here’s my race report from Baystate marathon, along with my complete marathon race history.

Baystate Marathon official result:
Place: 544; Div/Tot: 51/153
Name: Paul F; No.:994; Age: 54M
City, St: Mustang, OK
Time: 3:35:49; Net Time: 3:34:55.6
Pace: 8:13
Boston Qualifier: Yes; Half-split according to Garmin: 1:47:31/1:47:25

15 minute PR!!!

Background: After last Octobers Marine Corps Marathon where I set a PR of 3:50, I decided that a BQ for 2012 was in reach. An AG change in the summer of 2011 would put 3:45 as my qualifying time for 2012. I started building up my miles after the holidays, racing 5K’s and 10K’s for practice setting new PR’s on a regular basis. One of my referral threads was the one by Jim24315 on KR ( ). After running the A2A half-marathon in March with a PR  I set about to make a plan for the fall, using information from KR and RA (Masters groups and 2000/yr group) along with Jim24315′s thread, and Pfitzingers & Daniels books.  Now it was time to find a fall marathon (that would BQ me for 2012) for my first BQ attempt. I had the choices narrowed down to Royal Victoria, Niagara Falls,TCM, or Baystate. Fall in New England sounded great to the wife, so I signed up for Baystate in Lowell, MA. Then came time to implement the training, along with a very hot & humid summer in Oklahoma.
Prelude: Three weeks before the race, DW and I had a trip to Paris (I ran a 16K race there too, of course). Three days after getting back, I got a horrible cold causing me to really back off on my running. Even the week before the race, I was still suffering from some upper respiratory problems from it that would not get better. I thought I was doomed, but once you’re signed up, you have to follow through. Other than the issues with the cold though, taper madness was at the minimum.
Race weekend: DW was attending a conference in Boston on Saturday and Sunday. We arrived in Boston on Friday morning and drove up to Lowell for early packet pickup. Then we drove over to the coast and ate at a nice restaurant referred by some friends, seafood pasta for me and lobster for DW. Saturday while DW was in conference, I decided against an easy run and instead went for a walk along the Charles. A nor’easter had come through on Friday and it was still very windy, wet, and chilly. In the afternoon, I relaxed, stayed off my feet, and watched college football. In the evening,we walked to Legal Seafood. DW had the baked cod and I had lobster mac&cheese (very good). Walked back to the hotel, got everything set up for the morning and went to bed early.
Race morning: Woke up at 3:30 and could not go back to sleep. I went ahead and got up at 4:00 and got dressed. I ate my pre-race Sweet&Salty bar and drove on up to Lowell getting there about 2 hours before the start. The Tsongas Arena was open for runners and there were already quite a few runners there. I found a nice spot to stretch out, think about the race, and wait. At 7:30 the call came to make our way to the start. Weather was IRC, sunny, 40 degrees, with a very light breeze. The start area was quite crowded but once the pace group leaders arrived, things started to space out a bit. I lined up near the 3:40 pace group and planned to stay with them if I felt OK. Start time approaching, 7:55, time for the Star Spangled Banner, uh oh, technical difficulties with the sound system. I don’t know how it started, but the elite racers at the front started singing the anthem and everyone joined in, it was actually quite moving. That delayed the start just a bit, but we were off at 8:05.
The Race: It took about a minute for me to cross the start line. The first mile was very crowded, but I just took it easy and tried to keep the pace group in site. By mile 2-3 they were pulling away from me, I felt good, but my Garmin said I was running about an 8:00/mile pace. I decided to let the pace group go (never saw them again!) and just run on my own. I tried to ease up a little, but seemed stuck around an 8:10-8:15/mile pace, might as well go with that pace for awhile and see how it goes. Around the 5 mile mark, a young lady comes up and says how much she likes the flying monkey logo on the back of my shirt (tech shirt from the Flying Monkey Marathon last year) and asks me about it. She had never heard of the Flying Monkey Marathon, so I told her about it. She asked me what my goal was and I told her that 3:45 was my goal, but that I thought I could do a 3:35. She said that we were on about a 3:33 pace and I agreed. I asked her goal and she had none. Her plan had been to pace a friend to a 3:50, but her friend had cancelled at the last minute and she was not going to waste her entry. She asked if she could run with me since she liked company while she ran. We picked up a few more runners at the 3:35 pace and formed our own little pace group. At mile 7 was the GU station, as most of you know GI issues have been a problem in many of my marathons (and LRs). I’ve been practicing though and knew that this was coming up. I grabbed a GU and just before the 9 mile water station, took it along with a good quantity of water.  Thankfully, no problems occurred. The course is roughly a two loop course along both sides of a river, not flat, but not hilly either, nothing but easy rollers with flat sections and a few bridge crossings. So, we passed the same GU station this time at mile 17 and I took another GU with no problems. Anyways, back to our 3:35 pace leader, she was a natural at being a pacer, keeping a steady chat/encouragement most of the time and also backing off at just the right times and letting us focus. We saw her husband a couple of times on the course cheering us on ( a masters of divinity student at Boston University). By mile 19, I was the only one left in the group though. One had gone ahead at mile 18 and two had said that they needed to slow down. Around here I saw Nader (from RA 2000/yr group) about 200-300 meters ahead, I knew he was planning for a 3:30, did not know if he was in trouble, on pace, or what. Around mile 21, my pace leader told me her PR was 3:31. I told her I was doing great, knew I had 3:45 for sure and that she should try for a new PR. She was reluctant, but eventually she took off. My goal was to maintain pace and see how much ground I could make up on Nader. After mile 23 or 24 things are a bit fuzzy for me. I was gaining on Nader, but was really feeling the empty fuel tank and jelly legs. I just tried to keep from slowing down. Around mile 25, I passed Nader. Sorry I didn’t say anything, but I was in that dark place and was just focusing on running. DBTFU. Then I passed a 2000/yr GRN sniglet. I have no idea who it was. I passed the sign that said ONE MORE MILE, looked at my watch for the first time since mile 21 and realized that a 2011 BQ was possible. I tried to pick up the pace. Crossed the final bridge and there was the ballpark where we finish. How far to the entry, I didn’t know minor league baseball parks were so BIG, Why were they making us run all the way around it? Finally, the entrance to the ballpark. $#%^&*, we have to run all the way around the outfield warning track!!!! AHHH, I can see the FINISH line….Now the CLOCK……3:35:29……Go GO GOOO.. Timing Mat and 3:35:49……….

Post-race: Got water, mylar blanket, and medal. Then saw my pacer waiting to congratulate me. I thanked her profusely, but never got her name. Then I made my way to the outfield and laid down on the cool grass and texted DW and my local running friends that I had BQed for 2011. I laid there and recovered for a bit then stood to see Nader nearby, made my way over and introduced myself and congratulated him and visited for a bit. We were both zoned out from the race still. I had to get back to Boston and was unable to attend the RA 2000 group FE, very sorry I missed that.
Reflections: Everything went right for me on this marathon. Weather, finding a pacer, fueling, etc. I finally RAN a marathon, with no stops, no walk breaks, no port-a-let stops, just running the whole way. I’m ecstatic. It was well worth the miserable hot,humid summer training.

Marathon history:

4/24/2005 OKC Memorial Marathon 4:58:01; first marathon (goal <5 hours), swore it would be my last.

4/30/2006 OKC Memorial Marathon 5:17:41; paced friend to his first marathon.
10/29/2006 Marine Corp Marathon 4:18:44; goal avg 10 minutes/mile.
12/10/2006 Dallas White Rock Marathon 4:21:32; goal avg 10 minutes/mile.

4/29/2007 OKC Memorial Marathon; 4:19:08; goal avg 10 minutes/mile.
10/7/2007 Chicago Marathon 5:15:24, goal 4h10m; 90 degree temps by end of race.
11/18/2007 Route 66 Marathon – Tulsa 4:49:38; paced friend for his first marathon.
12/9/2007 Whiterock Marathon 4:27:04; joined Marathon Maniacs with this race.

1/13/2008 WDW Race 4:51:13; part of a Goofy weekend (ran the Disney half marathon the day before).
4/27/2008 OKC Memorial Marathon 4:03:51; goal <4 hours, just missed, faded at end with stomach issues.
5/24/2008 Andy Payne Marathon 4:23:04; retry at sub 4, hot day.
11/23/2008 Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon 4:37:43; hilly, fun marathon.

2/1/2009 Mardi Gras Marathon – New Orleans 3:58:52; goal sub 4, success.
10/25/2009 Marine Corps Marathon 3:50:03; goal 3:55, stomach issues at mile 23, some walking.
11/22/2009 Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon 4:20:13; so much fun ran again this year.
12/13/2009 Run White Rock Marathon 4:04:19; just ran it for Marathon Maniac cred.

4/25/2010 Run OKC Memorial Marathon 26.2 mi 4:04:38; training had not gone well, just ran it  as best I could.
10/17/2010 Run Baystate Marathon 3:34:56; goal of 3:45, perfect day and beat goal by 10 minutes.
11/21/2010 Run Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon 4:34:19; once again, just for fun.

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  1. Nader

    Ha! No worries, Paul. It was a great day.

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