Melissa’s Story of Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

Name: Melissa

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):  26

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’2″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 103

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Glass City

Tell us a little about the race. Prior to Glass City, I had only competed in fall marathons. After a couple of lazy months last fall, I decided to sign up for a spring race to get myself moving over the winter. Glass City appealed to me based on location and it’s timing in late April.

I trained injury and illness free until about 2 weeks before the race, when I strained my calf. My doctor gave me the “okay” to run but that it would probably be unpleasant. My strategy for the race was to go out fast and hang on for the last few miles, hoping that I could hobble in on one leg if necessary. The weather was perfect (around 40 degrees at the start, warming to about 55 during the race) with very little wind. There were only a few thousand marathoners so not a lot of weaving around people, although also a bit lonely in the later miles. The course was pretty flat with no steep inclines or descents.

I went out at a faster-than-qualifying pace, hitting mile 16 in just over 2 hours. I slowed considerably in the last 6 miles, due to calf pain, tired quads, and mental fatigue. I starting running from mile marker to mile marker and giving myself a short walk break at each (a strategy I used at Ironman to break the run into shorter, manageable chunks). While it didn’t feel or look pretty, I made it to the finish in 3:27 for my first BQ.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 6 years

Did you run in college or high school?        No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? I don’t closely track mileage unless I am training to an event, but I would estimate lifetime mileage at around 5000.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Not many. In the year leading up to the race I was focused on training for Ironman Wisconsin, and for me that meant cutting way back on running in order to become a stronger swimmer and biker. During Ironman training, my weekly mileage was around 20 miles per week. Then after Ironman I took several months off from running before getting back into things to train for Glass City, at which point I was following a plan that had me running around 35 miles per week.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 1 running race and 2 long course triathlons

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, Run Less Run Faster. I think the Run Less method has lots of critics who feel that mileage isn’t high enough to lead to a successful marathon. I really liked the plan because it allowed me to continue with hard bike and swim workouts on the days I wasn’t running. Since every workout in the plan is “hard,” I approached each one ready to work and didn’t allow myself to give less than my all.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? I followed the Run Less Run Faster plan which requires 2 to 3 days of hard cross training workouts (either swimming, biking, or rowing) on days where there is no run workout. As a triathlete I found this to be the perfect way to blend marathon training with the other sports I was accustomed to doing. My cross training workouts were high intensity and generally lasted 45 minutes to an hour. I would swim once or twice a week and bike twice a week.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? In the Run Less Run Faster plan, there are two workouts a week dedicated to speed. The first is traditional track workouts with a mix of 400s, 800s, 1200s, and 1600s. The second are tempo runs ran at race pace or faster. I attribute the speed workouts to my significant gains during this training cycle.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Find a plan that works for your schedule and lifestyle and stick to it!

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

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