Proud to share the story of one of my Prospect Park Track Club teammates hitting that BQ. Thanks for sharing your story, Allan!
Age (at the time of first BQ):
Weight (at the time of first BQ):
At which marathon did you get your first BQ?
Tell us a little about the race.
The short version: I zoned out, stayed patient, and believed in my ability that day. The longer version: I stayed at my place (which was a 90 minute drive from the start) the night before and my husband drove up me and a friend from my Brooklyn running group, PPTC that morning. The weather was nearly perfect – 50 at the start, overcast, with a slight wind that was on our tail for the second half. Most of the race is on a shaded rail trail of crushed gravel or pavement that follows the Mohawk River until in meets the Hudson then south along the Hudson to Albany. Although I was worried about being stopped by a train (which happened to me in this race two years ago), there was no such issue this year. I had never run a BQ before but I had been close (previous PR: 3:06). In actuality, I would age up for 2018, so I would be fine with a 3:10, but I thought my previous races warranted trying a sub-3. I tried to read my body, and stay focused on making sure it was “easy” for the first half (then later until mile 16). I was able to hold my pace at about 6:45-6:55 for the first 20 miles, running with various people, or alone, trying to focus on making sure I wasn’t getting excited. I wanted to be patient so that I could finish strong, which is always the dream. I was pleased that I my training, which focused on strength endurance, facilitated control for the first 18 miles. I got to mile 10 at 1:08:20, the half at 1:29:42, and mile 20 at 2:16:39 (the first and second ten miles being nearly identical), but I was in uncharted territory after that. I focused on keeping on pace in what some consider the mentally toughest part of the course – when you exit the rail trail and are running through suburbs of Albany. By mile 20, the field was strung out. I was able to focus on chasing the person in front of me, and ended up passing a handful of runners in the last 10K. My pace started to slip in the last three miles. After running 21 miles at 6:50 pace, I ran a couple of 7:00(even) mile splits before a reasonable controlled dive. (My last three miles were a 7:14, 7:19, 7:27). I did my best to fight, telling myself that I didn’t know if I could get under 3 hours, but that I should still try. It wasn’t until mile, which was hit at about 2:52:10 that I was sure under 3 wasn’t going to happen. Still, I sprinted to the finish over the moon – not hitting sub 3, but knowing that I had a huge PR in front of me and that I had executed my strategy nearly to a T. This race was a bit emotional for me. I had been chasing this goal for nearly my entire running career. As a runner and a coach, I’ve espoused positivity and hard work as core drivers behind training and racing, but I had huge mental blocks about my ability and would get down when time and time again when it felt like my results weren’t reflecting my fitness. It was a huge weight off my shoulders to finally do it.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?
Did you run in college or high school?
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
An educated guess: 18K?
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?
No, I have RRCA and USATF coaching certification, and I’ve coached other runners. I like the Hanson’s training plan, but I modified it for my own use.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
I’m the worst at cross training, but I started small amounts of body-weight exercises that focused on my core strength and flexibility. I think it helped with my stabilization and cleaned up my form a bit.
Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
I run intervals once a week during training, but these vary. There’s a mix of intervals at faster (5K) pace and longer ones that are done slower. The former help with form efficiency and turnover; the latter ones add to strength endurance.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
I strongly believe in using tempo runs and cumulative fatigue via long runs to simulate conditions during the race. I also tend to have higher weekly mileage than most, because that’s what my body responds to. Many training programs focus on the long run, and the first 20 miles of the marathon. Training for the last 16 (as the Hanson’s put it) means there’s more focus on strength endurance.