The BQ(Q): Michael F

This BQ(Q) is a nice treat as Michael shares with us the story of his first first BQ almost thirty years ago and his recent training for another BQ as a fifty year old.

Thanks for taking part Michael!

Name: Michael F.

Sex: M

Age (at the time of first BQ): 21

Height: 5’11”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 155

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

My 9th marathon – 1985 Los Alamitos Marathon

What was your finishing time?


Tell us a little about the race.

Back in ’85, the qualifying time for Open Men was 2:50:00. I’d never broken 3 hours. Los Alamitos is pancake flat and the race was small but well organized. I set a half-marathon PR when I reached the midpoint in 1:20:52. I felt good until around 19 miles, and by 22 I knew that I was in trouble. So I stopped, stretched and drank some Gatorade. I needed to salvage a sub-3 and erase the dreaded 3:01:21 from my list of PRs. I stopped nearly 2 full minutes, and when I got going again I calculated I needed to run roughly 7-minute pace to crack 2:50, but didn’t figure it could happen as my pace had slipped slower than 7:00 since Mile 20. So I figured 2:52-2:54. I did find my rhythm again, however, and by 25 I calculated that I needed to run a 6:30last mile to BQ. Lamenting that I’d be so close, but still miss, I pushed on. It wasn’t until making the final turn and hitting 26 in 2:48:30 that I realized I’d just run a 5:58 final mile and I was headed to Boston! I was overcome with excitement & emotion. I’ve run Boston now 3 times, (1985, 1996, 2006) and am qualified for 2015, but I’ll never forget that day. It’s still my PR!

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

6 years.

Did you run in college or high school?

Only one year of CC in high school and one year of track as a walk on in college. Otherwise, I ran on my own and went to races with my dad.

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?

I believe in quality over quantity. I was averaging 38 miles per week and my long run was 16 – but I was FAST. I set PRs in the Mile, 5k, 10k and half in the weeks leading up to my BQ.

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

Nope. [My running club nowadays, however, is a huge part of my life]

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

Nope. Cross training is something I’m still not very good at.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes. In order to BQ, I needed to average 6:29 per mile for 26.2 miles. In order to do that, I needed to be comfortable at that pace. Comfort at that pace means my top speed had to be much faster. For example, if I couldn’t break 40 for 10K (6:26 pace) then I had no business thinking I could BQ. However, I ran a PR 10k in 34:54 (5:37 pace) two weeks before – so 6:29 was no problem. The only question was whether I could hang for the distance.

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

My training plan from 1985 might seem like something that would work only for a 21-year old, but a carbon copy worked for me last fall as I ran a textbook 3:15:19 at the Akron Marathon four weeks after my 50th birthday – for my first BQ in nearly 10 years! I was fast (for me) and pulled off the perfect race – with a long run of only 12 miles! I’m not saying to skip the long runs, but I didn’t have time to increase my mileage and speed at the same time so I prioritized speed over distance – and it worked.



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