Boston Qualifier Questionnaire –Mike R

Name: Mike R

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 38.6

Height (at the time of first BQ):  69″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 137

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Flying Pig

Tell us a little about the race. My BQ race was my second marathon and second Flying Pig. I had to drop 20 minutes to qualify but my training leading up to the race was sound and my 5K times had dropped by a few minutes.

On race day I remember going out too fast as usual and it taking several miles to settle in to a pace I thought I could hold the rest of the race. By mile 23 I was on pace to finish about 5 minutes below the BQ time for my age group (3:15:59 at the time).

Miles 24-26.2 were very difficult. The race conditions for early May were on the colder side. It was 43-45 degrees for the entire race with a light rain for the first 10 miles. There was also a 12-15 mph headwind. The wind and the cold/damp conditions combined with the typical fatigue late in the race had my pace fall from mid 7s to mid 8s late in the race. My last mile was my slowest at 8:47.

I think I realized as I was approaching the finish line that I would qualify but was too fatigued to celebrate. I believe I had a mild case of hypothermia at that point.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? About 2.5 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? About 1,000 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 745 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 5 races

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, Hal Higdon Novice Plan

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 in your training? If so, how? No

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? The Higdon novice program barely got me to a BQ but given my level of experience, the lower mileage is what I needed. It was the same plan I used in my first marathon the year before. I have since had much more success with Higdon’s intermediate program and the Pfitz 18/55 plan mainly due to the prescribed speedwork and more experience. Try to hit the track and run the tempos when your plan calls for them.

As always, if you don’t stay healthy, you can’t run the miles and then you feel like you need to play catch-up. That doesn’t always work. As I have gotten older, I’ve found that mixing in softer surfaces helps to avoid injury. My mileage now consists of about 50% trails.

Don’t let the weather keep you from running. I did 109 of my 437 training miles on a treadmill the year I first qualified. Spring marathons mean training through some nasty winter weather sometimes.

If you can, try to run the same course in training. Get to know the course and know when you need to slow down or are able to pick up the pace. The Flying Pig is hilly but the big hills are in the first 8 miles.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Justin J

Name: Justin J.

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 37

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’10

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 162

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? St. Jude Memphis Marathon 2019

Tell us a little about the race. I ran a 2:49:06. It was my first marathon so I don’t have anything to compare it to in terms of other marathons. The weather was perfect, around 40F and totally overcast with no wind to speak of. The course is pretty fast with just a few rolling hills and a couple of small overpasses. It is my hometown marathon so I was pretty familiar with most of the course and had ran different parts of the course over the years. I went out conservatively since it was my first marathon and ended up negative splitting by a little more than a minute. Felt strong until the last 5K when I could tell I was running out of fuel. I took 4 Gu’s during the race and should probably have taken one more. My goals were (A) finish healthy, (B) qualify for Boston, (C) sub 2:55. So I was very happy to hit them all.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? I ran track and played other sports in HS, but didn’t run more than 3 consecutive miles until 2010.

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 4000 miles?

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1700ish

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Several (5 half marathons, 6 5Ks, 4miler, 5miler, 10K, 10miler)

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 didn’t follow any plan, but I tried to average 60-65 miles during the weeks I didn’t race and 40-50 during the weeks I did race. During non-race weeks I would run 6 or 7 days a week with one 8-10 mile tempo, one long run (18 to 23 miles) and one speed day with 400 or 800 repeats, and easy days between. Race weeks were similar but without the speed work and usually a shorter long run and a day off.

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 started my training cycle with weight lifting, plyo and drills, but stopped cross training around 4 months before my marathon.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Speed work definitely played a role, but I think doing so many races was even more important because it is so hard to simulate a race during training.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? For me, the key was upping my mileage by slowing down. I had always ran too fast on all my runs so it was impossible for me to get in the amount of mileage necessary to feel confident to cover 26.2. What’s funny, is that when I slowed down and added mileage, I was able to not only run a marathon, but I PR’d at every distance other than the 5K. That’s my next goal.

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The BQ(Q) — Warren

Name: Warren

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 35

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5′ 8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 163

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Chicago 2017

Tell us a little about the race. Third marathon, first time running Chicago. I was hoping to break 3 hours (finally managed it a year later running at Chicago again), but cramped up badly around mile 22. Still managed a PR and sub 3:05, so got a BQ with the necessary cushion to run in 2019.

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

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 5000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 2000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 5

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, 50-60 mpw, usually a long run on the weekends about 1 track workout a month

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? no

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? did a track workout (400s, 800s, or mile repeats) about once or twice a month

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? The key for my marathon improvement (including my first BQ) has been slow but steady increasing of both volume and quality. Generally not at the same time, week to week and month to month I’ve looked at increasing one or the other. This gradual approach took me from a 3:20 marathon in 2016 to a 2:42 at Boston in 2019. In 2016 I ran about 2000 miles and I am on pace to run about 3000 this year.

 

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The BQ(Q) – Bob D

Name Bob D

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 39

Height: 5’10”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 145

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Loco Marathon (Newmarket, NH)

Tell us a little about the race. Advertised as fast and flat. Strava gave 861ft, garmin 504ft. Two loop race, miles 10-13 and 23-26 being on rail trail gravel. I think those miles from 10-13 helped save my legs for the second half grind. The trails were very muddy though which became more of avoid the puddles at all cost type of running. Pacers were setup for 7, 7:10 and other paces. I followed the 7:10 pacers for the majority of the race. There was some wind and drizzle, temps were decent though and no sun.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Started running Jan 2014

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 10000

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? 3

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, 1 interval, 1 tempo, 1 slow long

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? None.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how? Speed or tempo type work on tuesday and thursdays. Long slow on saturday or sundays. Other days super easy.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Very odd cycle for me, I attempted a hadd style approach at first and was running decently fast long runs at 7:30/mi pace. Got burned out. Had some really poor long runs. Then rebooted, forgot about going for the BQ and just did Tuesday/thursday workouts and long runs slow (8/mi). Didn’t know how the marathon was going to go, simply decided race day I’d follow the 7:10 pacer and hope for the best. Took GU at the start, then at miles 4, 8, 12.5, 17, 21. Had one more but couldn’t stomach another. Carried my own gatorade water bottle + extra GU tablet dissolved in it. Took some aid station water but not much. Eventually I felt good enough around mile 23 that I felt like I could speed up a bit, didn’t work out though and barely gained a minute on the pacer. Finished sub 3:07 for a BQ below the new standard for 40 year old age group of 3:10. Also of note, I ran a 9/23 half in 1:28:46, was disappointed in that race as I thought I could go sub 1:28. Afterwards I sort of felt my body was geared more towards the marathon.

Number of 19+ long runs: 9
Number of 16+ long runs: 4
Number of 14+ long runs: 5

Max MPW: 71
Avg MPW from June 1 – Oct 28: 62
Avg MPW last 18 weeks: 63

Taper really was only skipping the long run previous weekend and taking a few days off week of the marathon and all easy 5-6mi runs.

 

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Dan Clemo’s Story of Qualifying for Boston

Name: Dan Clemo

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 35

Height (at the time of first BQ):  6,3

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 185

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

Tell us a little about the race. Tagged as the friendly marathon, Edmonton lives up to its hype (or lack there of). While it is a summer marathon in August, the early start and flat course makes for an ideal race. The spectators are a little thin, but they are more prevalent on the back end of the race were you need them. The expo and post race events have significantly improved over the years making it a great overall time.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 4

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 7500km

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 3000km

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Just the two A-Goal races. A half in february and the full in Aug. There were also a few B-Races throughout the year to keep things fun.

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, Focused on quality sessions while making my easy runs actually easy.

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 found my greatest gains were built with a simple weight training program that was focused exclusively on running related movements. I not only felt stronger overall, but I was able to stay relatively injury free. As a bigger runner and a previous football & basketball player, i have had bad knees for the better part of my life. The right weight training pretty much eliminated those pains allowing me to be more consistent and to push harder.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, I spent far more time doing longer intervals at higher speeds which made my race pace feel more relaxed. It also gave me the opportunity to develop getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I am not a natural runner. Unlike the comments of those that simply picked up a pair of shoes and qualified in their first year, I had to work my but off. My marathon times year after year actually got worse. I was getting a bit frustrated but I took a step back and started to enjoy the process. I looked forward to the hard days as it was something new and challenging, and loved using the easy days to explore my city to enjoy the sights. Ultimately, I was able to shave off 35 minutes from my previous marathon giving me almost a 10 minute cushion for Boston. I cant wait for April!!!

How Eric Wheeler Qualified for Boston

Name: Eric Wheeler

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 39

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 152 lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Providence

Tell us a little about the race. Spring Marathon in New England, cool, rolling terrain, little wind

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 5 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 4,000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1,000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 5

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, triathlon training with emphasis on run; 1 recovery run per week, 1 speed workout or tempo run, 1 easy run and long run with 2 tempo intervals; 3 bike rides per week & 2 swims per week

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? see above regarding swim/bike

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? yes, increased top end speed

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? go and get it.

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Boston Qualifier Questionnaire: Kevin McCabe

A great, detailed story of qualifying for Boston. Thanks Kevin for taking the time to write this up!

 

Name: Kevin McCabe

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):  36

Height (at the time of first BQ): 6’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 184.4

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Peak to Creek Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. Peak to Creek is great race in Western NC. It’s a net down hill race (Total Ascent: 285 ft, Total Descent: 2946 ft). It is about 6 miles of rolling hills to start (pace yourself in this section) because the next ~8.5 miles are steeply downhilll and you will get any lost time back. The next ~8.5 are flat, and the last 4 are slightly down hill. It’s run in Pisgah National forest along Wilson Creek and is quite beautiful.

My strategy was to run 7:11 over the first 6, then 6:50 down the hill, hang on for the next 8.5 at 7:11 and try to speed up on the downhill finish so I’d come in around 3:08. I ended up running about 7:20 to start, then about 6:43 down the mountain, but had so much energy left I ran about 7:00 pace for the next 10 miles, so I was able to ease up to about 7:20 into the finish to keep from blowing up over the last few miles and finished in 3:06:34 (a minute and a half faster than I had expected).

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 7 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 6,400

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1600

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 18 races >5k, 18 5k’s

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? No

 

If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Historically followed Hal Higdon but had to modify due to heavy race volume

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Somewhat, I had been a triathlete for 6 years prior to BQ and had even done an easy effort half-ironman 6 weeks before. I think adding the swimming and biking helped me recover from the huge volume I ran in the spring time and huge intensity over the summer.

However, in the year prior to my BQ I had focused primarily on running. 7 months before my BQ I had completed my first 100 mile event which had required me to run ~250 miles a month as training. As a comparison, I had never exceeded 145 in a month training for a marathon.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? After the 100 miler in April I took about 6 weeks off completely. But starting in May my local run club hosts an all comers track meet. I spent 12 weeks attending every track meet running all 4 running events and the race walk event. I managed to set track PR’s in every distance except the 200m (100m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, mile, 3000m, 5000m). I was only running about 20-25 miles a week during the summer (primarily due to heat in NC). But every Saturday I would run a 5Km race.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Training for the 100 mile event really opened my eyes to what a solid endurance base can do for your speed. I also learned that in order to run fast, you have to run slow. Training for the 100 my usual long run pace was between 10:30-13:00 min/mile but I’d be running between 3-4 hours. My “fast” runs were between 8:45-9:30 (~130-155 HR). During training I was worried that I was losing speed. However, during my training I ran a very tough train marathon in 3:33, the next weekend I ran 2 marathons back-to-back. In all 3 marathons I started with an easy pace and picked up speed in the second half negative splitting two of them.

I had previously run a 3:16 and 3:24 marathon but faded BADLY in both. The increased mileage/endurance base helped me keep from fading in my BQ. After I had built up a sufficient endurance base, I worked on building up my speed. From there, I spent about 6 weeks balancing the two.

Finally, it took 3 years of work for me to get to my BQ from the time I set it as my goal. I didn’t have a necessarily linear path to achieving it, and may have been aided by a coach. I’m proud that I was able to get there on my own through trial and error and sheer dumb luck. I feel there were soooo many factors that helped me get there that this form wouldn’t fit but I listed the major factors in my training. Below are some additional factors in roughly descending order of impact:

1) BIG endurance motor – training for the 100 made the marathon seem easier and built up the aerobic motor
2) speed work – increasing speed while maintaining cadence
3) varied pace during training—really slow during long runs(10+min/mi), fast during speed workouts (<6:20 min/mi), in between for group runs (7:40-8:30 min/mi)
4) eliminate alcohol, caffiene and reduce sugar intake during training
5) Rest – used fitness tracker to monitor resting heart rate and hours of sleep per night/week
6) consistency – had 3 separate groups of friends on different days to run with (all were faster than I and could BQ by 20-30 minutes)
7) walking – I added a 2 mile walk every afternoon during work
8) diet – I ate fairly healthy but it was hard given the quantity necessary
9) data – I started keeping track of and analyzing my data (mileage per wee/month/year, resting HR, weight, etc)

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – Jeremy

Name

Jeremy

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

37

Height:

5’6’

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

165

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Philly

Tell us a little about the race.

Cold day, incredibly windy. 3:05 pace group started with 70ish people, ended with 2.

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

6

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

3500

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

1000

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, Pfitz

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?

Yes, gave me top end and increased my VO2max

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

 

The BQ(Q) – T Lindsay

Name

T Lindsay

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

37

Height:

5’5’     

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

163

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Grandma’s Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

Beautiful, cool day, starting temp in the low 50s. Slightly downhill course.

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

5

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

6500

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

2100

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

14

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, Pfitzinger 18/55

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?

Yes, I was still growing my weekly base mileage but the main focus of improvement during the 18-week buildup for me was speed – mostly in the form of lactate threshold runs, but also with track intervals, which Pfitzinger uses sparingly.

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

Base mileage volume and lactate threshold runs made the biggest difference for me.

 

The BQ(Q) – Dan Varga

Really pleased to share Dan’s story of running a three hour marathon after losing fifty pounds! Inspiring stuff, Dan, thanks!

 Name

Dan Varga

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

38

Height:

6’1’

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

183

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Utah Valley

Tell us a little about the race.

I went out today with the goal of keeping my pace in the 6:40’s as long as I could in hopes of breaking 3:00 in my first official marathon. My split times were 6:49, 6:43, 6:43, 6:54, 6:49, 6:49, 7:12, 7:21 (stopped to get rocks out of shoe), 6:43, 6:41, 6:50, 6:37, 13 -6:40, 6:47, 6:52, 6:33, 6:33, 6:39, 6:40, 6:49, 6:45, 8:00 (emergency bathroom), 7:01, 6:55, 7:07, 1:41

I felt great until mile 23 when my heart rate finally got into the 170’s and suddenly I couldn’t keep my speed up anymore. My heartrate was basically in the 150’s until mile 22. I did get attacked by a bird twice by the golf course. I ran it’s wing into the back of my head as it dive bombed me. Scared me, maybe that is what drove my heart rate up and over the edge. That’s right, blame the bird.

Overall, I am very pleased, just wish I would have worn the gaiters and didn’t have my bowel issues and then I would have broken 3:00. There’s always St. George. It was great to run into my wasatch back team at the mouth of the canyon to provide some needed energy, and then my family and parents came and watched me go several times from there until the end.

I ended up 39th overall and 9th in my age group 35-39 I think it was broken down to. Not a bad first effort I would say. Look forward to doing some actual speed work and see what I can really do for St. George”

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

15 months

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

1500

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

 

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

3

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, 10 Miles a day, 3-4 days a week. A couple of speed miles. 10 miles easy, 10 miles hard on weekend long run.

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?

Some Tempo Miles. 10 mile Speed Run. Occasional shorter races.

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

Miles. Lots of miles, slow, medium, some fast.
The 2 years I trained I used a heart rate monitor all the time to judge effort.
My first marathon I tried to run at a 155 or 160 heart rate for as long as possible, whatever that speed was. It eventually went up (mile 22), and the speed went down. Ran 3:01 my first marathon after losing 50 pounds and running 3-4 times a week for 15 months.