The BQ(Q) — Matt

Name: Matt

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 42

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 173

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tacoma City Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. A true test of grit. A very hilly first half. Tactical errors made in the first half will contribute to a horrible second half slog. After bonking hard in 2018 on this course, I made it my personal mission in life to take my revenge out on this course in 2019.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? I’ve been training and running marathons since 2011. Did not entertain the thought of BQ until 2016.

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 23,000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 3,500

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? Yes, A mixture of Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20, Pfitz, and Hansons. I ran my easy days EASY, and my hard days HARD. A lot of tempo and lactate threshold work and strategic marathon paces mixed inside of my Long Runs.

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. A mile spent cross training, is a mile I could have spent building volume by running.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Absolutely. Once a week I did 800 to 1200 meter intervals. These sucked. They need to. Also, once a week I did tempo/lactate threshold work, around 20% of weekly volume.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? If you’re serious about getting a BQ but you keep missing the mark do an honest self evaluation. If you need to clean up your nutrition and drop some weight, do it. If you are neglecting sleep, don’t. If you have time to add more weekly miles, do so. If you are frightened of some of the more advanced speed work, don’t be. Have a nutrition plan for race day and practice it during some of your longer and difficult long runs. Marathons suck, don’t make them suck more by coming to the start line under-fueled and unprepared.

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The BQ(Q) — Casey Wilson

Name: Casey Wilson

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 42

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’9.5″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 167

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? The Woodlands

Tell us a little about the race. 500 ft elevation gain, rolling uphill to 15, rolling downhill to finish

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 3.5 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 7800

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 2835

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 8

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? I lift weights 2-4 times per week, focus is squats

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? I follow the 80/20 model in general.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Everyone is different, but I had to put in more miles than most to hit my goal. I read reports of people qualifying on 45 miles per week and that was outside of my capabilities. Most weeks I am over 60, several times over 70, and a few times up to 80+. I am not fast, just willing to put in the work.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Pete D

Name: Pete D.

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 41

Height (at the time of first BQ):  6’2

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 190

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?  Santa Rosa Marathon, 2017

Tell us a little about the race. It was a very hot day in Santa Rosa, but fortunately the race started early enough to beat the real heat (103F by noon, but not too bad before 9:30). It was a pretty flat course, but naturally the last few miles were a real struggle. I tried to stay on a 7:10 mile pace and just hung on at 3:09 overall.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? About 20 years, in some form

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? About 10,000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Approximately 1,200

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, I have had a number of injuries and cross-train a lot, so I really listened to my body and made the plan up as I went. Still I tried to have a lot of discipline and generally plan a few weeks ago. I’d go longer/faster when I felt good and shorter and I felt lousy.

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Definitely. I play hockey, cross-country ski and use an erg machine to row at home (especially in the winter). I mixed in some lifting and yoga too. I think all that helps build a base of fitness so that you only need to focus more intensely on running for a shorter period — 10-12 weeks leading up to the race.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Very little. I only did sustained speed, like longer runs at an even 6:50 to 7:10 mile pace. No intervals, no high-end speed.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Stick with it and be wary of boxed programs, in my humble opinion. I’ve seen some programs that I believe are too rigid and probably won’t help a lot of people. I would recommend building your own and catering to your own issues, schedule, soreness, energy level, illness, etc. If you feel tired and got 3 hours of sleep, don’t follow it up with a long/hard run. If you feel great and happen to run into a beautiful sunset, add a few miles. Find motivation and inspiration when you can, and use it hit faster paces.

I have two young kids and work full time, so I run when I can find the time. It may actually take more personal discipline to freelance it rather than following a set schedule, but remember to really push yourself (pace and distance) on the days you feel good and ready for it, so you can scale back on the days you don’t.

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How Steve Harrelson Qualified for the Boston Marathon on his 11th try

Name: Steve Harrelson

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 43

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’11”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 175

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Berlin

Tell us a little about the race. Berlin is a flat, fast course, and the weather was perfect. It remained about 55 degrees throughout the race. It is well organized, and there are plenty of water stops throughout the course. It’s a great place to qualify for Boston.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 19 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 12,000 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 900 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 4

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’s Advanced 2 Marathon Program

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 lift some weights 2-3 times per week…mainly dumbbells and push-ups for 30 minutes.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? My plan called for Yasso 800’s once every three weeks. Toward the end of my training program, I was running 8×800 under 3:10 each relatively comfortably.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I did not qualify for Boston until my 11th marathon. Don’t ever give up!

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Aaron Fox

Name: Aaron Fox

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 41

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 192

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Mountains 2 Beach

Tell us a little about the race. This is a point to point race, about 700 ft net downhill that I specifically targeted for BQ. I needed 3:15, realistically 3:12, and trained/targeted sub 3. I started off with the 3:02 pacer, and left that group about mile 8. Felt great through 16-17 miles (half in 1:29:07), then the sun and miles got me, and I faded a bit the last 10k. Ended up 3:03:02 and ringing the BQ gong felt great.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 4.5 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 9000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 2500

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 6

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? none

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? my coach loves strides, so I did a lot of those. once a week I did sessions of a couple min on, a couple min off, with the ratio increasing throughout the plan. but there were no prescribed paces. All effort based.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? For those of us with no running background, I really think it comes down to just an accumulation of miles. The specific plan can help a little, but at some point it just comes down to having thousands and thousands of miles in your legs. Good luck!

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – Phil R

Name: Phil R

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 44

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’11”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 152

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Hartford

Tell us a little about the race. I starting running in 2011, but in late 2015 I shifted my focus to triathlons. This was my eight marathon and the fourth that I thought I had a shot to BQ, including missing by 62 seconds at New Jersey in 2015.

After spending a year between 2015 and 2016 training for Ironman Mont-Tremblant, I used all that built up fitness to slingshot my way into a BQ at Hartford and took full advantage of that extra 10 minutes I got going from 44 to 45 years old. I only had about six weeks between the Ironman and the marathon and most of that was spent recovering (the Ironman wrecked me). I think I had just enough gas left in my tank to hit that BQ. I ran a good, steady race and came in 3:22:39, for the BQ -2:21. I just hope that cushion is enough to get me into 2018.

I am still a little bummed that I was unable to break that 3:15 I was trying for before the AG bump and I wish I didn’t need that extra 10 minutes, but I’ve got more marathons in me and will keep trying for that. Up next is Space Coast later in 2017.

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? 11,000 miles

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? 15

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? I was strictly a runner for five years, but running a marathon after focusing on an Ironman meant I did a ton of biking and swimming. I was only running about 30 mpw for the eight months leading into my BQ marathon, but they were mostly hard effort miles.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? More tempo runs than speedwork. 60-90 minute tempo runs once a week, and a good portion of my other runs at steady-state.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Well, I am still trying to figure that out. I was just fortunate enough to get that 10 minute bump at a time when I was in decent shape.

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Sam

Name: Sam

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 41

Height: 5’7″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 140

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Run for the Red Poconos

Tell us a little about the race. 2:48 marathon debut, ran with a teammate, quiet heavily downhill course, plastic cups, ran relaxed. Took of 8 minutes 6 months later in NY with more targeted training.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 18 months

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

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? Didn’t answer

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 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

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, but regular body weight exercises

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? generally two workouts a week, one 5K or faster, one HM/MP

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Run many different paces as part of your training. Keep easy days easy so hard days can be hard. You only get out the work you put in.