A couple of firsts today, I think Alex might be the first person to qualify at a 24 hour event (though he was doing the marathon). Thanks for taking part, Alex!
Name: Alex H
Age (at the time of first BQ): 24
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 130lbs
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.
Ultra Around the Lake 24 Hour Race, Wakefield, MA. ~2:53:22. It’s a ‘relay’ race around a ~3 mile lake. It’s in the middle of summer and starts at 7pm. I did the 1 person marathon version, while others did relay marathons, or relay running for 24 hours straight. Very flat. I never understood the term “bonk” until that last lap. It was night fall with a light rain. At that point I thought to myself, if I trip, I don’t think I’m getting back up. Technically this was my second marathon, but the first one was a bandit (Manchester Marathon, Manchester, NH 2:55) so the BQ didn’t count.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
12 years. I started in middle school and by early high school it was obvious I was blessed with an incredible amount of natural talent. Combined with great coaching and a good work ethic I excelled in HS and had a good college career. I would have liked to run my first marathon coming off of college fitness, but had an appendectomy during Spring Break my senior year. After 5 weeks of doing nothing, I didn’t really have much fitness to work with.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
I’d have to guess somewhere between 15,000-20,000. In college I was averaging between 2,500-3,000 but not sure about the rest. I jumped around a bunch of different training logs.
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
I think 3. Two 5ks and bandit of a Marathon. Since college I find I rarely 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?
I find it difficult to balance work life and training. I do my best to get runs in when I can (usually 4-5 days a week). Because I don’t train that much I find that attempts at workouts usually break me down.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
Boston Athletic Association. I joined the spring before the race and got in some good track workouts. I found that as the summer go hotter and the workouts got faster, the workouts and my goals were not lining up. The workouts were beating me up more than they were helping me aerobically. I stopped going to the workouts and focused on the mileage I could handle. Looking back, I was only averaging 40 miles a week.
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Not really. This has always been a weak spot in my training and I usually pay for it by suffering preventable injuries.
Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
The workouts I did probably count, but I felt that on race day the only thing that mattered was locking into a pace and keeping it steady.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Pre-Training: If you’re just starting training, understand that the first 2-3 weeks will ALWAYS hurt. I think this is the barrier that keeps a lot of people from becoming runners. After that point your body starts to see the benefits of your hard work and training comes easier.
Training: Be careful about your long runs. They are important but can also be your worst enemy. When you run for 2 hours or longer you could be breaking down muscles or opening your body to injuries/sickness. For my training I know if I can hammer a 16 mile run after a week of work and a busy weekend, I can run 26 miles as long as I go in well rested (taper, and relaxing weekend).
Racing: Have fun. Smile. I try to do my best to engage the crowd or get to know people on the way. It sounds like it’s a waste of energy, but I’ve found the benefits far outweigh the consequences.