The BQ(Q) – Bob D

Name:  Bob (Subdood on Running Ahead)

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 47

Height: 5’9″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 149

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.
A little over 2 months ago at the Twin Cities Marathon, Oct. 7, 2012. I ran it in 3:21:34 — needed a 3:25.
This was my 3rd marathon (all 3 at Twin Cities), but 16 years elapsed between the second and third. (History: I ran Twin Cities the first time in 1994 in exactly 3:11:00, one minute off of the BQ time for a then 29-yr-old. I tried again in 1996; my goal was sub-3:00. I over-trained, got severe leg cramps at mile 24, and struggled to finish in 3:44. I was sure that was my last marathon.) I got back into running after reading “Born to Run” by Scott McDougall. I ran a half-marathon in January 2012 and felt good. Then, I received an e-mail suggesting I run the TC marathon as part of Team JDRF to raise money for Type 1 diabetes research (my wife and 6-yr-old son both have type 1). So I signed up and started training. The race itself was very much as I planned it out ahead of time — 7:30 pace for 20 miles, then hang onto 8:00 pace as much as I could after that. I walked at every water stop and drank Powerade, took 3 or 4 gel packs, and stopped for 2 bathroom breaks. I felt like I had a faster run in me, but I really didn’t want to risk leg cramps, or other issues. One very memorable moment during the race: a 20-something guy caught up to me and asked about my Team JDRF shirt. I told him about my wife and son. He thanked me and said, “We’ll beat this disease,” then he pointed to the insulin pump clipped to his shorts … and left me behind.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I had been running consistently for a little over a year when I BQ’d. I ran cross-country in Jr High and High School — it’s now been over 36 years since I attended the first info session as a 7th-grader. I never lived up to my potential — I ran a 5:35 mile at the age of 11, but was only average in high school. Tennis was my primary sport in high school, and I played tennis in the summer, so I never put in enough miles over the summer to really be a factor in cross-country. I did some sporadic running for fitness over the years since, but have been more of a tennis player than a runner until recently.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
No idea — maybe 3000 miles? 5000 miles? 

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
About 1500 miles.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
Eight, including 3 halfs, three or four 5ks, and a 25k trail race.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
Hal Higdon, intermediate (level 2?). I stuck to it rigidly. I think it helped me psychologically to use a “canned program,” knowing that many others used it successfully. My prior “self-designed” plans involved running as fast as I could as often and as far as I could.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? 
No, I did almost exclusively solo runs, although I really enjoyed running with some old buddies during a reunion event. One of the guys was training for a marathon, and he needed to run an 18-miler during the reunion weekend. He asked if anyone wanted to join him, and two of us did. We had a great time. It may have been what inspired me to take up running more consistently and to train for races.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Early on, yes, then just running for last 2 months before marathon. My cross-training would typically be a very fast circuit of exercises (burpees, pullups, pushups, situps), maybe 15-20 minutes worth, before my run. 

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
Yes. Tempo runs, intervals, hills, all as specified in the Higdon program. One workout that I would do more of next time is to run the last 25% of a long run at faster than my goal marathon pace. (Not sure if that was in the Higdon plan, or if I read about it somewhere else and tried it out during one of the 20-milers.)

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of you working towards a BQ?
Nothing profound here about pain and/or perseverance. I enjoy running so much more now than I used to — if it was about perseverance and/or overcoming pain, I probably would’ve given up quickly. However, running for a cause helped me stay consistent with my training. I created a Crowdrise site to raise money, and I posted updates about my training, and about my son’s issues with type 1 diabetes. I didn’t want to let all of the donors down by not running and finishing the marathon. I mainly wanted to finish the race without injury or incident — the BQ happened without me obsessing about it. Of course, as the race approached, it became a goal to BQ, since it seemed within reach. It’s true that it’s easier as you get older. In fact, I now think I am capable of someday beating my PR of 3:11, despite the fact I did that when I was 29 and I am now 47.  I am armed with so much more knowledge about how to train, and I still have a lot to learn.
Another thing — During my training, I became a big fan of Gu and ClifShots and PowerBar gels. I would take them during my long runs, at the prescribed times (15 minutes before, every 45 minutes during, etc.). They seemed to help with the training. However, something I read AFTER the marathon was that I should avoid using these gels regularly during training — that the goal is to train the body to store and use glycogen more efficiently, and that overusing the gels during training runs defeats this adaptive response. I will use gels much less in training for my next marathon. Maybe every once in a while so that my body doesn’t reject them during an actual race.

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About seanv2

Scholar, gentleman, jock. I run the website Milo and the Calf. There you will find the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire where runners share their stories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You'll also find my thoughts on endurance sports, ancient history, Judaism, and hundreds of book reviews.
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