The BQ(Q) Joann Y

When I started this project years and years ago, many of the early respondents came from the great website Running Ahead. Very pleased to add another RAer to the story here. Thanks Joann for sharing your story!


Joann Y



Age (at the time of first BQ):




Weight (at the time of first BQ):


At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Chicago Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

I hadn’t put in a ton of mileage, maybe 40-45 miles a week for the training cycle but I had been pretty consistent with an average of just about 40 miles a week for the two years preceding the marathon. I followed the Pfitz 18/55 plan. There were some hiccups (personal stuff, “injury”) along the way but I think I followed it pretty closely. I had a half marathon (1:44:23) three weeks before this race that went very well and gave me a lot of confidence that I had a chance to qualify. The race itself started out a little fast and I was worried that I had already ruined it with some fast miles at the start but I remembered my goal of staying relaxed and not using any extra energy for the first 15 miles. So I calmed myself. I off and on followed the 3:45 pace group but couldn’t make myself commit to staying with them. I spent a lot of the race calming myself. Making myself relax. I hit the half at 1:50:59. My goal was 3:42 (BQ would be 3:45). I was concerned that I couldn’t hold that pace for another half marathon as it already felt kind of hard. The last 10k was really hard and I mentally treated it as a 10k, putting in that kind of “effort”. Was able to hold on for 3:41:49 finish (9 second negative split second half). Very happy to stop running at the finish.

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

4 years taking it seriously, otherwise, my whole life. I always considered myself a runner.

Did you run in college or high school?


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

Not more than 7000-8000 miles

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?

Yes, Pfitz 18/55

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


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


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

Yeah, just whatever speedwork was part of the canned plan. Strides, tempo runs at half marathon pace, marathon pace long runs, some VO2 max intervals at 5k pace.

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

I said that I ran in high school, but that was just track. I never ran more than a mile or two at a time in high school and never really much more than 3-6 miles up until 4-5 years ago.

I hadn’t put in a ton of mileage, maybe 40-45 miles a week for the training cycle but I had been pretty consistent with an average of just about 40 miles a week for the two years preceding the marathon. Consistency over years is key, I think. Day after day, week after week, month after month. I never strapped myself too tightly to a goal of a BQ. I knew that it would take time and I knew I would get there if I took my time. The idea of consistency involves a lot of other things besides miles though. You have to set yourself up for success to reach consistency. You have to do the things that you need to do to be consistent. Stop drinking, roll out the calves/hamstrings/quads/IT band, eat better, stretch, go to bed early, run in the morning before work, run during work, run after work, run at night, bring running clothes to work just in case, run with a friend, run alone, run in a new location, run the same routes, take iron, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, walk around barefoot, get a massage, stop smoking, turn down nights out with friends, set goals, set stupid goals, streak, don’t streak. The point is not to try to do everything right. Don’t try to do all of the things right but look at your life and listen to your body and figure out what needs to be done that day or week to make the running happen. That’s all. Figure out how to make it happen. Then go do it. If you think you are prepared, then confidence will take you the rest of the way to the finish line.

Joanna rocking the Swamp singlet.
Joann rocking the Swamp singlet.

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