The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Gina

Name: Gina

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 36

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 132

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Zurich Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. Zurich is a nice flat course with a couple of loops through the old town, and a long out-and-back along the lake. The weather on the day was ideal; around 12degC at the start and warmed up slightly throughout, sunny and a tiny bit hazy, no wind at all. There was even a view of the Alps while running along the lake!

This was my first marathon and it was in early April, so I trained through the winter for it. It was actually my first “long run” in shorts. I wasn’t exactly hot out, but I was still paranoid about being too warm, so I must’ve dumped a couple of litres of water over myself over the course of the race. The aid stations had mini water bottles, so it was easy to grab one and carry it for as long as you want.

I was pretty scared of the marathon. Everyone kept telling me how hard it is, how “anything can happen,” talking about hitting the wall, etc. I hoped The Wall was only a matter of nutrition, and ate around 6 gels during the race. I didn’t hit the wall. I had quite good luck in general I think. I didn’t really know what pace I could manage, so kind of guessed based on feel, but ended up running quite even splits with the second half just slightly faster than the first half. In the end it ended up being a really ideal first marathon experience. The only thing that went kind of poorly was some achilles pain about halfway through, which ended up going away again, but which prevented me from running for about 3 weeks after the marathon.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 21 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? I don’t really have a clue since I didn’t keep training logs for most of my life. My best guess is around 24,000 km. I ran consistently for all those years, but I was always a pretty low-mileage runner.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? About 1900 km. My highest-mileage year ever for sure!

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? I ran about 15 races in the year before the marathon, which is typical for me. This was a mix of running races and triathlons. The running races were either cross-country or road, and varied from 5km to HM. The tris were sprint and olympic distance.

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 Every week I did: 1 interval session, 1 long run, and 2 easy runs. I also biked twice a week and swam about once a week.

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? I find that cross-training helps me have a slightly heavier training load without as much stress on my legs. As mentioned, I also do triathlon (though running is BY FAR my best sport) so I typically regularly bike and swim as well.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? I do speed work about once a week. I think this is fundamental to my being able to run fast. There have been a couple of times in my life when I’ve gone many months without and speedwork, and my running has always suffered. I value speedwork more than any other type of run. It’s also the most fun 😉

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Good luck! I hope you make it 🙂

How KG Qualified for the Boston Marathon

Name: KG

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 28

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’4”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 110

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?  Providence

Tell us a little about the race. It was my 3rd marathon. It was a good, well run race, in my hometown so no travel required, which I feel gave me a “home field advantage”. Small enough to have space running, large enough to always have someone nearby. Long stretches of no fans and quiet running by the ocean on a bike path. Some hills, but not too bad. I wasn’t actually trying for a BQ necessarily, but the conditions were perfect that day and I felt good, so decided to go for it about half way through the race.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 3 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 3000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1500

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?     Yes Generic marathon training plan from coolrunning.com

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 did not do much cross training. Occasional hiking/walking on off days.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how?          I did not do any speed work for this marathon.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I’ve run 9 marathons now, 3 were BQ -#s 3 (Providence), 7 (Providence) and 8 (NYC). Performance varies due to so many things during such a long race. Traveling, staying in a hotel, eating at restaurants always results in slower marathon times for me (mostly, except NYC with perfect weather). I always do best at races where I can sleep at home, eat my normal food, and take a short drive to the race in the morning. Also, running on familiar streets or by familiar landmarks makes me feel more comfortable and relaxed. If BQing at a large race hasn’t worked for you, try to achieve a BQ at a local race.

Don’t underestimate the power of weather. The perfect weather always leads to a PR for me…bad weather (hot, rainy, snowy) typically adds 5-10 minutes to my marathon timBoston Qualifier Questionnaire Arte.

The BQ(Q) – Madeline Harris

Thanks to Madeline for filling this out, and for qualifying in her first marathon!

Name

Madeline Harms

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

23

Height:

5’6″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

110

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

New York City marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

Back then the qualifying standard for open women was 3:40. I hit the wall hard in my first marathon but still managed to run a 3:39 and change to qualify

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

10 years

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

12k?

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

Didn’t answer

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, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

No, I ran about 40 miles a week, with a couple 20+ mile long runs.

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

Yes

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

Yes, I cross-trained a lot due to injury

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

Once a week intervals

 

 

The BQ(Q) – “O.R.M.”

Here’s a great BQ(Q) with the blogger “Obsessive Researching Mommy” on her recent BQ with some great advice on avoiding injury. Thanks ORM!

Name: O.R.M. researchingmommy.blogspot.com

Sex: F

Age (at the time of first BQ): 49

Height: 5’3

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 118

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time?

Tell us a little about the race. Vancouver 2015, 3:55. I was sure I was not going to BQ but surprisingly I felt like a million bucks from start to finish. By the halfway point, I felt so good that I realized I was going to do it and I think that fed into itself, giving me even more energy for the balance of the marathon. The course is challenging due to the ginormous hill at km 9 and the winding finish around Stanley Park.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I did no running in high school or college. In my early 30s I ran casually and did one 10K per year for three years. I’ve been training for Olympic distance triathlons for the past six years. This was my second marathon.

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

3400K recorded since 2011. No idea before that.

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

682 miles in 2014.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

A half marathon in the winter, a 10K three weeks out, and the marathon itself.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one?

If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Hansons all the way! Unfortunately I could only do about 65% of the scheduled training but I tried to finish all the long runs.

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

Mostly solo but easy runs with friends if available.

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

I did a little bit of swimming and a bit of cycling.

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

I followed the prescribed Hansons workouts when possible.

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

Your biggest enemy is injury.  Here are all the ways to avoid injury:

  1. If you are doing Hansons, try to stick to the prescribed speeds. Do not go faster or slower. Recovery/easy runs are just that and if you run them too quickly, you are risking injury and are not achieving the specific purpose of the runs.
  2. Pick an easy course to qualify. The Vancouver marathon was not an easy course.
  3. Increase your cadence to around 180 to help avoid injury.
  4. If you are an older runner, go for maximal cushioning to prevent injury. Keep a collection of shoes and mix it up so for longer runs you are using maximal cushioning, speed work on cushioned but firmer shoes. This helps avoid repetitive injury.

If at all possible, find someone of equal ability to train with. This will help motivate you through the tedium of marathon training. On the day of the marathon: It will feel like you can’t go on any longer. Trust in your training. If you have 10K left, think that you run 10K every day. This is nothing.  The winner is the person who can endure the most discomfort. Run your own race and do not get carried away with the wave running their brains out at the start. Pace yourself evenly. Let them go. You will catch them later as they burn themselves out. You don’t need to stop for all the water stations. Drink according to thirst. On race day, try to enjoy the day and be present. Stay relaxed and remember that this is supposed to be fun. Smile and high five the spectators and thank the volunteers.

 

The BQ(Q) – Eric H

Eric is about my height, and about my build, and about my age. A lot of great lessons in here! Thanks for taking the time to fill this out!

Name: Erik Hash (twitter @erikhash)

Gender: Male

Age (at time of first BQ): 38

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 170-175

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

I qualified at the California International Marathon Dec. 7, 2014 with a time of 3:08:37.  I needed sub-3:15 since I turn 40 in early 2016.  I had signed up for CIM on a bit of a whim while injured and used it as motivation to train through the fall.  I had set a PR in the half marathon in November.  Between the half and my Yasso 800 times everything pointed to being able to hit my time but I was pretty nervous going into the race because my mileage was down a bit compared to my prior marathon in May.  I lined up with the 3:10 pace group and tried to stay just in front of them early on to avoid the crowd.  I went out just a bit faster than I should have but not too terrible.  CIM is a net downhill course but does have a number of rolling hills that take a toll.  I managed to roll along with my pace pretty even in the low 7’s.  It started to warm up around mile 17.  I was trying to stay on top of my s-caps and fluids.  I definitely hit a wall at mile marker 21 and slowed a bit.  It felt like I was running 8 or 9 min miles but in reality I had only slowed to a 7:20.  I recovered at mile 22 and then had some mental battles, screaming internally “you didn’t fly halfway across the country to not finish this”.  I hit the wall again at mile 25 but still only slowed to another 7:20 mile.  At CIM you can see the turn for quite a long distance, so my focus was on a big flashing arrow.  Once I got through mile 26, I was able to kick it in through the finish.  I’ve never had that much elation and exhaustion at the same time.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I ran track and XC in high school along with 1 year of college XC.  Ran through college but then fell off with only occasional running between 1998 through 2009.  When I started I ran 2-3 times a week and built up to half and full marathons.  I could finish a marathon on 3 days a week.  It wasn’t until the start of 2014 when I made a conscious choice to run 6-7 days a week and started tracking my calories to lose 35 lbs that the running really fell into place.

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

Not sure on the lifetime mileage.  Somewhere between 5,000-10,000.

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

2,000+

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

10-12

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 program.  I picked up tidbits here and there reading other peoples’ training logs on www.ndorfnz.com, a local website that pre-dated Strava.

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

No club or coach.  Almost all runs are solo.

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

No cross training before the BQ.  I’ve since added swimming and cycling into the mix.

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

I mixed in some tempo efforts and track workouts. I primarily stuck with 800 repeats, building up through the cycle.

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

A BQ wasn’t even a dream until I made a conscious choice to change things up.  I had to truly dedicate myself to the training and weight loss.  It was worth every bit of effort.

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) – Dave E

It’s the return of the BQ(Q). I have a couple of these in the hopper waiting to go up, but I am always looking for more people interested in doing this survey. Thanks Dave for taking part!

Name:  Dave E / www.beachesrunner.com

Sex: M

Age (at the time of first BQ): 42

Height:  6′ 1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 195

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

Mississauga – 3:19:10 Spring Race, 16 minute PB

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

3 years, no HS running, played a lot of hockey with some light running as training

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

4500 miles

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

1800

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?

Hal Higdon Intermediate 2, hard on the hard days, easy on the easy days, long midweek runs

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

Group runs, and as well, I coached a marathon clinic

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

Core strengthening, some swimming, some cycling

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

RUN MORE, run with a group, preferably faster runners

BQ(Q) – Mike G

A great BQ(Q) with legit fast denizen of running ahead MikeyMike. I gotta quite this awesome passage:

That’s the question I think a work-a-day hobbyjogger has to always ask: am I willing to do the work?  Because for nearly all of us the limiting factor is not our God-given talent or genetics, it’s simply how hard we are willing to work–to what extent we are willing to prioritize running against all the other things we have in our lives.  It’s a tricky balance to get right but one that I think makes it all a little more interesting.

Thanks Mike!

Name: Mike G / Hobbyjogger Chronicles

Sex: M

Age (at the time of first BQ): 30

Height: 5′ 9″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): not sure…160 ish.

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

It was at the 2000 Baystate Marathon, on the old course that started and finished at the Greater Lowell Tech School in Tyngsboro.  It was only my 2nd marathon–the first being Big Sur in 1999 which I ran almost on a lark, woefully under trained.  I decide in the spring of 2000 that this was the year I wanted to finally qualify for and run the Boston Marathon.  Originally I wanted to run Chicago with a buddy but he got injured almost right away so I changed plans to Baystate so I wouldn’t have to travel.  I followed a plan that I found on the race website, I think it peaked at about 65 mpw.  I had no idea what I was doing and I was hurt and running through injuries the whole time.  Luckily I didn’t know any better and wasn’t aware of any online running message boards where people would have told me how crazy I was for trying to BQ in only my 2nd marathon when my first had been a 3:40.  I needed a 3:10 to qualify (I didn’t even know about the “59 second rule” and ran a 3:09:40.  It took absolutely everything I had.  At the time it was definitely the highlight of my athletic life.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I always ran a bit for fitness, but that was about it.  I had run in high school but that was really sprints and middle distance (800m) so no real distance background.

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

Maybe 10,000 miles if you include 4 years of high school track 12 years earlier

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

Not sure.  I wasn’t running at all really before I started my 16 week or whatever marathon training.  Probably 7-800.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

1 including my BQ 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?

Like I said above, I found a training plan on the Baystate website.  It was written by John Barbour who at the time was the coach of the Greater Lowell Road Runners.  If I recall it was a fairly standard “intermediate” marathon plan.  It focused on tempos and a weekly long run and a lot of easy distance.   I actually bagged a lot of the workouts because as I said I was constantly battling little injuries.  My preparation was not ideal by any stretch.  Looking back I was so unprepared but I didn’t know any batter.  I felt like I was right on the edge of major injury or breakdown that entire summer/fall leading up to it.

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

Nope.

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

Not really during my marathon build-up although I probably had pretty good basic fitness just from being athletic my whole life.  I had done a ton of skiing, mountain biking, some running and other sports.

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

The thing that strikes me most now, looking back, is how hard I thought I was working and how impossible it seemed at the time.  And now, 10 years later, I’ve actually lowered my marathon PR by a full 20 minutes from that 3:09:40.  Training really is a progression and every time you reach a new level you need to really look down the road at what’s next.  I’ll be the first to admit that it was easier for me to BQ than for a lot of people but the thing is I didn’t stop there.  If I look at where I started, with a 3:40 at Big Sur, then a 3:09 at Bay State a couple years later to now having run 2:49 last fall at age 40 I think that proves that over the long haul training really works.  And I still feel like, if I was willing to put in the work, I could do a lot better.  That’s the question I think a work-a-day hobbyjogger has to always ask: am I willing to do the work?  Because for nearly all of us the limiting factor is not our God-given talent or genetics, it’s simply how hard we are willing to work–to what extent we are willing to prioritize running against all the other things we have in our lives.  It’s a tricky balance to get right but one that I think makes it all a little more interesting.

The BQ(Q) – James D

James is a triathlete and trainer, thanks for taking part in the survey!

Name: James D Power Multi Sport Twitter

Sex: Male

Age (at time of BQ): 37

Height: 5’ 8”

Weight: 160

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

Mardi gras Marathon (Rock and Roll New Orleans).  Late FEB, flat.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I started running when I was 30 to lose weight.  I quit smoking (smoked for 13 years) and lost about 65 pounds.

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

Maybe 5000 miles

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

About 1000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

In my build for Mardi gras I raced a lot – in my 10 week training plan I raced 6 times – 1 12k, 3 half marathons, 1 25k and 1 30k.  I PR’d every race.

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

I followed a FIRST (Furman) with many high volume blocks.  I guess the Furman was in name only – I wanted three well-defined workouts each week consisting of a speed session, a hard tempo and a challenging long run.  However, I work for a university and get a lot of time off over Christmas.  I ran several 3 day blocks (ultra runners call them back-2-backs) of around 50 miles (10 / 15 / 20 or 15 / 15 / 20 – at a very easy pace) and then recovered for 2 days.  I also raced a lot, these were my hard tempos, and hard long distance runs.  For good measure, I did speed work for 5 weeks consisting of Yasso 800’s.  I guess, looking back, I threw the kitchen sink at it.

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

I ran with everyone.  I am in a running club but I am self-coached.

Did cross training play a role in your training?

If so, how?  Being a triathlete I do bike and swim a lot, however, for my marathon builds the swim and bike take a back seat.  I did it some but nothing was planned.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Perhaps my BQ came too easy (first marathon – I needed a 3:15:59 and ran a 3:08:44 with even splits) but I think the necessary components are a consistent build, the hard runs need to be hard (that is for mental prep as much as anything else – I really need a race to perform well), and staying injury free.

The BQ(Q) – Ginny

Thanks Ginny from Happy Feet 26.2 for filling out the questionnaire!

Name: Ginny Happy Feet 26.2

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 41

Height: 5’ 10

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 143

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your time? Tell us a little about the race. St. George, Utah, 3:49:17 (needed 3:50:59) – the best marathon out of 19 so far.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I started running my senior year of high school (1986).  I have run off and on since then.  Dec. 2003, I walked my first marathon, Feb. 2005 ran my first marathon, fall 2005 became obsessed with qualifying, fall 2009 finally did it – my 15th marathon,  April 2010,  I RAN THE BOSTON MARATHON.

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

I have no idea.

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

1300-1400

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

16 – various distances

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

I created my own schedule.  Alternated hill repeats and track.    Hard run, followed by 2 easy days.   It was a rotating schedule.  My long runs came up every 9 days, tempo every 9 days, hill repeats or track workouts every 9 days.  (not the standard long run every Sat. or Sun)

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

My running partner was preggo, so I trained mostly solo for this one.

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

Unlimited yoga the month before the marathon.  Prior to that, 1-2 classes per wk.  Walk or easy bike for recovery.

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

I max’ed out with 63 miles before my BQ race.  This was my highest mileage, at that time.  For me to BQ, it was a total package effort.  I lost some lbs., I had 2 recovery days after each hard workout, I did unlimited yoga, I hit new high mileage, I incorporated ice baths after hard workouts, I improved my nutrition, and I trained year around.  I also believe racing shorter distances is an important part of training, but not to “over race” leading up to the marathon. Keep running, keep dreaming, it CAN be done even when you don’t have natural talent to BQ.