Kate’s thoughtful recollections on when she qualified for the Boston Marathon

Name: Kate

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 27

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’3

Weight (at the time of first BQ): I don’t believe this is helpful information for other woman to see- one’s best racing weight is very individual- I will say I was five pounds heavier and healthier when I ran my second and faster BQ

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Loco Marathon in New Hampshire

Tell us a little about the race. It was my first marathon, and based on my race times from my previous half-marathons, my predicted finish time was somewhere between 3:40-3:45. I set a pretty easy goal- just to finish under 4 hours. However, at the starting line, I decided to line up with the 8:00min/mile pacer. Besides bonding with him and learning each other’s life stories, I kept up easily for the first half. We ran with a big group and it was so fun talking to everyone- I was having a blast. The course was two loops, so we got a new pacer on the second loop. Sadly, we didn’t get to bond as much as I started losing him at mile 16. By mile 20, I thought my chances of BQing were over but I just kept going. Back then, I did not use a GPS watch and had no clue what my pace was. At mile 23, I started getting really nauseous due to not taking in enough nutrition. I kept telling myself to just be happy about getting across the finish line. At mile 26, I see my fiance (who ran the half marathon that day). I’m so excited and I can’t wait to hear him cheer for me. The first words out of his mouth are, “Hurry up! Hurry up!” I was like “Excuse me?!!” I couldn’t believe he had the nerve to say that to me at mile 26 of a marathon! However, when I looked up at the time, I was at 3:33. He totally did the right thing. I finished in 3:33:27, -1:33 the qualifying time. He knew that if I missed it, I’d be so disappointed. When I found out later on that to get into Boston, you often need a faster qualifying time than a -1:33, I decided to run another one in May. Thankfully, I ran a 3:30:32 in Martha’s Vineyard, so hopefully I will be going to the Boston Marathon in 2018!

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 13 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? I have no clue. I didn’t get a GPS watch until Christmas 2016! But a lot!

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Not many. I took a break from racing for a bit to focus on graduate school but was still running for fun.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? two 5ks, two half-marathon

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

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Absolutely and I believe it is key to running injury free. I almost never run more than 4-5 times per week. A sports medicine doctor years ago gave me the advice to never run every single day as your knees need a break. I take at least one day completely off, and cross train at least 1-2 days every week. I attend cycling classes and an interval training class at the Oak Square Y in Brighton, MA which are a lot of fun and tough workouts. Spin class mimics running since you incorporate sprints and hills into the workout. Interval training basically a strength and cardio mix- very challenging but a lot of fun. My fiance is a weight-lifter so he has gotten me doing the bench press, overhead press, deadlift, and pull-ups (I avoid squats due to fear of hurting my knee). We also have an elliptical in our apartment which I use quite a bit.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, but not as much as it should have. I tried to do a tempo run once a week or some form of fartlek, but I didn’t follow a training plan so often my runs were just for distance. For my second marathon, I incorporated speed work in 1-2 per week, and believe it helped a lot.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Take care of your mind and body. Running a marathon is so much a mental game as well as a physical one.

Make your miles matter. I’m a PhD candidate in Theology. During races, I like to dedicate each mile to a person or group of people, and pray for them at that part of the race. Or sometimes I do a mile in memory of someone special who has passed away. Thinking of certain people often gives me courage in the middle of the race, especially toward the end.

A lot of things seem counter intuitive and you really have to trust the experts. Tapering before a race can be hard, but your body needs it. Its so tempting to do more than you should, but you have to resist. Make sure you are taking in enough nutrition. Finally, always take the time to recover after a race. I learned this the hard way. I tried to cross-train like a maniac right after my first marathon and ended up with a knee injury that put me in physical therapy and left me unable to run at all for a month. Second time around I took two weeks off, and when I went back, I felt totally fine!

The BQ(Q) – Phil

Name

Phil

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

24

Height:

5′ 8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

145

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Chicago

 

Tell us a little about the race.

Signed up on a whim about 6 weeks before the race. I was very fit, coming out of years of competitive HS and college track. Training was approximately hammering an hour run @ 6:15 pace 5 days a week, and surviving 2 long runs that were 2 hours each.

I had no idea how to pace, or hydrate. Started way too fast, approx. 1:20 through the half. Faded, and experienced severe leg cramping in the last 3-4 miles and ended up running 2:50.

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

9 years

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

15000

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

2000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

10

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

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

No

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

No.

 

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

Had a strong lifetime base of mileage at paces that were, in retrospect, too fast. Tons of miles at 6:00-6:20 pace, when I should have been doing easy runs closer to 7:00. Almost all running mileage was tempo, and I was lucky not to be injured more.

Did not do any speed work specific to target marathon pace.

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

Train your body where it is now, not where you wish it would be. If you’re doing the workouts of a faster athlete, or one accustomed to more mileage, you’re not developing your body appropriately. It’s a slow process, but take your time…focus on the long term.

Top Ten Boston Qualifier Questionnaires

With the Boston Marathon once more right around the corner, I thought I’d look at more than 200 responses I’ve received to the survey and pick out the top ten most popular responses by regular, everyday people*. Here they are:

Tim T (Male, 31)

Laura (Female, 25)

Abe M (Male, 34)

Kristy (Female, 34)

Janae J (Female, 24)

Craig (Male, 33)

Darrel (Male, 32)

Lindsay (Female, 24)

Doug O (Male, 28)

Candice S (Female, 23)

Thanks to these and all the other respondent for taking part!

Share your story by filling out the survey here. 

*Some of these responses are so popular because they were early, some because the respondent has a large social media presences, some because they’re just really good. Hope you enjoy them and feel a little inspired.

 

The BQ(Q) – Ron

Name: Ron

 

Sex: Male

 

Age (at the time of first BQ): 56

 

Height: 5”10”

 

Weight (at the time of first BQ):158

 

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Fox Valley Marathon, St Charles, IL 3:37:38

 

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

23 years

 

Did you run in college or high school?

Ran track and XC my last year in HS

 

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

12,000 miles-injuries every few months.(back issues)

 

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

1722 miles in 2010

 

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

(didn’t answer)

 

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

 

Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning UP to 55 miles per week

 

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

I have been part of a running club for twenty two years.

Did cross training play a role in your training?

No cross training. I did start running ultras in November of 2010.

 

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

The most helpful part of the training was the mile repeats. I used the McMillan calculator.

 

I was on the verge of  over training, The last 3 weeks I had to cut mileage from 45-55 to <30 mpw.

 

 

 

 

The BQ(Q) – Dirk H

Dirk has a great story about working long and hard to get a BQ and a great blog. Thanks for taking part, Dirk!

Name: Dirk H. http://dirkhayes.blogspot.com/

Sex: M

Age (at the time of first BQ): 42

Height (at the time of first BQ): 6’

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 160, currently 151

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

Huntsville, AL, Rocket City. I needed a 3:20 and qualified with a 3:17. This was after a failed attempt 30 days prior. I knew it was my day at mile 18. The miles just kept clicking off and this was the point of the only real hill on the course.

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

About 7 years worth of marathons on 15 years of running.  Did you run in college or high school? No, I started running 3 months before my son was born and after I quit smoking.

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

16,000 give or take.

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

1,761 miles the year before the BQ, which is down from my current mileage.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

6 according to Athlinks.

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

Yes, I can’t remember which one, though. I’ve been chasing the BQ every year for 8 years. Lots of different programs. In the end, more miles and pace work worked for me. Typically six 20 mile long runs.

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

Ran with a running club to make friends that I ran with regularly.

Did cross training play a role in your training?

Big believer that core work helps to maintain form in the later stages of the race. My routine was a really simple workout with dumb bells about twice a week.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Lots of miles for me, but one of my buddies qualified his first time out. Go figure. Key for me was finding the balance of miles without getting injured. It was hard work, but I’m working just has hard now with more miles and running faster.