The BQ(Q) – Luca

Very excited to share this great questionnaire filled out by my Prospect Park Track Club teammate Luca. Luca is a stalwart of our club, organizing out of town runs and other events all while being blaziningly fast. Huge congrats, Luca, on qualifying for Boston and going sub-3 all in one go!

Name: Luca

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 37

Height: 5’9″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 125

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race. 

Chicago 2015, 2:58:25 — it was not an easy race; I ran with Ben C., a PPTC teammate who reached out to me asking to run together since we may have had similar goals. He is faster, much faster and finished Chicago in 2:53 but for the first 30k we paced each other and had a lot of fun; the plan was to run 21-minute 5k’s up to the 30k mark after which each one was on his own. Up to 30k it was easy sailing, averaging 20:30 5k’s and crossing the halfway mark in 1:27:30. After I crossed the 30k, my form started to deteriorate; the warmth (it was around 65 at that point) and the steady breeze from south-west were becoming more and more noticeable. At a water station, I couldn’t keep up with Ben who continued his race and I mine.

 

To be totally honest, I gutted it out, the last 2 5k’s were incredibly tough and I slowed to a crawl (21:30 and 22:00). I ran Chicago in 2010 (one of its hot years, 70 at start and 85 by 9) and seeing those places where I walked and called it quits kept me honest and kept me going. Crossing the finish line left me with some bitter taste for I had not run the race I wished I would have run, but I avenged both Chicago 2010 and NYC 2014 and I broke 3 hour so I wasn’t feeling bad or anything. It was just a very weird rush of mixed feelings.

 

By the way, splitting the race in 5k-chunks made it more manageable: I helped me to avoid checking the watch every 15 seconds for the impending beep and breaking the flow. (The actual reason was more menial: Ben runs in km/min, I in mi/min — 5k is something we both understand and have a feeling for.)

 

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

No track or cross-country in high school; I would have liked high school more had I had it, I guess. I started running as I was finishing grad school in 2008 so 7-8 years

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

No idea! A very rough estimate would be around 15o miles a month to account for injuries, so approximately something north of 10,000

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

I was injured for all winter and got back in April starting at around 25mpw, I think, increased to 40-50mpw by July; I used a shortened training cycle — 8 weeks of training and 2 of tapering — during which I was averaging 70mpw with a peak of 84mpw.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 

Very few; I raced the New York Road Runners Team Champs in August and Lehigh Half in September

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 was helped by two friends, Allan and Chris. I followed somewhat closely Allan’s MTG program and ran several of the workouts he created for the group. That was a huge help!

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

PPTC; I didn’t technically utilize a coach but I was helped by the aforementioned Allan and Chris. (And with “helped” I really mean it.)

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

I often say I would do a triathlon if it were not for the swimming leg and the bike leg. I profoundly dislike swimming and accept biking as transportation. I didn’t cross train but I was doing physical therapy once a week to address tightness and soreness.

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

A huge role. Simply put, I don’t think one can BQ without working on speed and especially long sessions of marathon pace runs (in this context, tempos); I was running 8-10 tempo runs every week except for the one leading to Lehigh. I’m sorry but I don’t think there’s another way out: one needs to train the legs to that pace and cadence.

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

Be consistent. Be determined. Be honest. The first two don’t need an explanation; it’s what everybody says. The third is different. What I mean by that is you will BQ when you will see indications of a BQ; if your half marathon PR is 1:35, it doesn’t matter how much you train, a BQ is simply not realistic. I really think that it’s important to get shorter races down first; work one year to improve your speed, get a sub-1:30 half (or what is for women, sorry I’m not familiar with women’s times) and then the chips will fall into place.

 

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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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