After I posted about this project on the Runnersworld forums, Sarah was kind enough to respond with her story. Thanks for taking part, Sarah, have a great run in Boston!
Age (at the time of first BQ): 40
Weight (at the time of first BQ): Approximately 120 lbs.
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.
I first BQ’d at Portland (OR) 2007. My finishing time was 3:40:05. A friend and I started running short distances approximately 1.5 years before that, doing a couple of 10K races. We were both approaching our 40th birthdays at that time. About 6 months after we started running together, just after we both turned 39, we decided to train for and run a marathon to celebrate turning 40 the following year, thinking “now or never.” At the beginning of training, we had no time goal and no goal of qualifying for Boston. That marathon was a mix. I was absolutely elated for about the first 17 miles, okay for the next 4-5, and then crashed hard at around mile 22. Despite knowing about the “wall,” nothing could have prepared me for how bad I felt from mile 22 to the end of that marathon. We were happy to have BQ’d, but I had no desire to run another marathon after that, so no plan to run Boston at that time. Three years later, I ran a second marathon (Portland 2010), mainly to keep my husband and some other friends company in their training. I BQ’d, but some of the friends from our group didn’t. We decided as a group to run CIM two months later in an effort to have everyone qualify for Boston, thinking that we’d go together if we all qualified. I BQ’d again there, and it is that qualifying race I’m using to run Boston this year (deferred from last year). While I love to run, particularly with a group of friends, I think marathoning itself is hard and painful. After each of these marathons, I’ve said “never again.” However, I am finally running Boston this year because I’m not sure that I’d ever qualify again (or go through what it takes to qualify), and I feel like I should take advantage of this opportunity to run Boston while I have it. This may be my last marathon.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I ran competitively in high school and during my first year of college. After that, I ran/jogged sporadically for a few years into my early 20s, never racing. I almost never ran between my early 20s and my mid-30s, starting to run regularly again in my late 30s. I had been running regularly (a few times per week) for about 1.5 years before my first marathon and BQ.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
I don’t know.
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
I haven’t calculated it, but I generally run between 25 – 40 miles per week, even at the height of marathon training.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
2 or 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?
My friend and I made up a program based on the Hal Higdon Advanced program. We modified it so that we ran only 4 days per week, but many of the runs were more intense or longer than specified in the plan. Shortly into the training, we began running with 2 other friends. One of them had run several marathons and had qualified for and run Boston several times. The other of them had run three or so marathons and had also BQ’d and run Boston. My training philosophy going in was simply to train enough to complete the marathon and cross a marathon off my bucket list. After joining the more experienced friends, our philosophy was a bit more competitive, but I don’t think I was consciously thinking about a BQ before it happened. We’ve used this same sort of hybrid program to train for both successive marathons.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
I ran with an informal group of friends and family members.
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
No. I am bad about cross training. At this age, 45, I am really starting to recognize that I should be doing some strengthening work to avoid injuries.
Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
Yes. We did fairly intense speedwork in an effort to balance our somewhat low mileage. Speedwork ranged from fartleks, tempo runs, pace runs, and intervals (distances between 400 and mile). We also did Yasso 800s a couple of times leading up to each marathon. And, we did many hill repeat workouts.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Good luck. I hope you enjoy the process as much as meeting the goal.