The BQ(Q) – Bryan

This one is really worth a read, especially Bryan’s answer to the last question.

Name

Bryan (justrundamnit)

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

36

Height:

6’4″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

165

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Wineglass Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

I hit the mark at the 2015 edition of the Wineglass, crossing the line in 3:06:24. My plan going in was to hang with the 3:05 pace group as long as I could—ideally the entire race, but at least long enough to set myself up well for my base goal of under 3:07. Having a 3:05 pace group was fantastic, since it gave me a pack to run with much of the race and forced me to stay relatively even and relaxed, even though the pace felt slow early—although clearly my training went a long way to making splits just over 7-flat feel easy.
We went through the half marathon mark without it feeling like much of an effort, and I still felt strong heading into the tough going past mile 18—strong enough that when the remaining six or seven of us passed a guy absolutely blowing apart around mile 21, I felt like I was still on cruise control without even a thought to digging deeper.
Of course, within another mile, I was having some troubles—a gel I’d taken earlier in the race wasn’t sitting well, and I developed a mild ab cramp that slowed me just off the pace heading toward mile 24. The other guys in the group had similar troubles, and I did my best to hang on and attempt to try to catch one or two of them—I ran down one guy before hitting the 25-mile mark—and keep the others somewhat in sight in the push to the finish.
Even though I lost some time over those final couple of miles, I didn’t fall off the pace as badly as I had in my first two marathons, and I hit Market Street in Corning with a sub-3:07 locked in; I swerved around the back-of-the-pack half marathoners and burned whatever last little bit I still had in the tank to get over the line and secure a solid BQ, knowing I wasn’t likely to punch my ticket to Boston without a sizable cushion.

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

Almost 5.5 years to the day

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

7,500–7,600

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

About 2,650 between October 2014 and the 2015 Wineglass

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

Did not answer

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

Yes. Pfitzinger’s 18/85, with some minor modifications—I dropped about half the doubles, had a couple down weeks because of vacations and did a super compensation week that bumped me up to 92 miles toward the latter half of the cycle.

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

No

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

Not significantly; I walk to work (and occasionally bike), but I doubt I reaped any major rewards from that kind of activity.

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

Pfitz’s plans have some solid speed workouts and high-effort sessions; the marathon-pace long runs (18 miles with 10–12 at MP, 20 with 14 at MP) are flat-out brutal but invaluable. His 600/800/1,000/1,200/1,600 repeats toward the end of the cycle definitely helped; I probably would bump a few of those for more tempo runs in another marathon cycle, if only because I find tempos are more useful for getting myself to where I need to be.
While they aren’t speed work, the midweek 15-milers are also great conditioning, both mentally and physically—I was getting up at 4:45 at times to get those in, and if you can do that and run for two hours, it’ll go a long way.

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

Unless you happen to be genetically gifted—or have years of high school/college running experience—getting to a BQ time is more about perseverance than anything else.
Of course, it’s also about pushing yourself fairly hard; you can’t just get a BQ time by hanging around, you have to put in the effort—but with a solid plan and enough time, hitting the standard is well within reach.
The problem is finding the willpower to put in the work. That’s what separates people who get to Boston from the pack.

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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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