The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Chris H

Name: Chris H

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 51 years, 11 months

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 165

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? I have BQ’d three times, 2015, 2016 and 2019, all at the BoA Chicago Marathon. Only my 2016 time was fast enough to make the BQ cutoff.

Tell us a little about the race. Pretty good day for a race, temps were good, and Chicago is always pretty fast. I had qualified to be B corral, so I was up front and ahead of most slower runners. I needed a 3:30 and planned for a sub-3:25 to give me the 5 minute qualifying cushion that everyone shoots for. I basically intended to run a little under 8 min miles and ended with an 7:49 average pace. I ran a 3:25:08.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? I started keeping track of my miles in 1989, so 26 years or so.

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 20,043 (so glad I have kept track of my miles over the years.)

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Total miles in 2015 was 2112.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Lots of 5K’s and short tri’s, but only one half marathon and one full.

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, For marathons I use a Nike Advanced plan that was promoted by the Chicago Marathon, and for Ironman I use Be Iron Fit.

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Absolutely! I firmly believe that the training I do for Ironman triathlons pushed me into the zone of being able to qualify. I believe that was the most beneficial aspect of my BQ.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, the typical fartleks and intervals at various distances were employed.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? It boils down to four factors for me to finally qualify for Boston. First, I had to stop winging it and follow a plan. This brought down my time significantly, but still left me with a good 10 minute deficit to make up to qualify.

Secondly, I started a running streak (at least a mile a day on 1/1/15.) This improved my fitness and running strength. I kept at that streak for 4 years and ended it the day after running the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Third, and most importantly, I became a triathlete and started doing Ironman training and races. This taught me so much about building to a goal, as well as proper nutrition during the race, an aspect that I had previously given very little attention to. In 2016, I also did Ironman Lake Placid in July and then started my training for Chicago after a brief recovery.

And lastly, I was patient and aged to the point where my abilities were more in line with the qualifying standards. My son qualified at 24 years of age, there was no way I could have done that.

Thanks for allowing me to share my experience.

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Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Chris

Name: Chris

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 52, about a week before turning 53

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 165

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. Beautiful day, temperature was good. I ran nice and even splits, planning to hold 7:45 pace. Stayed on point with my nutrition during the race, avoided the wall and gutted it out for the last 5k. I executed my plan pretty well and was just slightly off my planned pace, ending with 7:52 pace per mile. Wanted to be under the BQ by 5 minutes, missing it by 9 seconds. Finished with a marathon PR of 3:25:08.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 26 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? About 22,000 miles. I started a running log in 1989

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

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Marathons? 13, including 1 Ironman.

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, Be Iron Fit, an Ironman training program, and a Nike Advanced 16-week marathon 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? Training for an Ironman was without a doubt the most important aspect of my ability to become a better runner. It made me a much more well-rounded athlete and runner. I lost weight, didn’t just overtax my legs, and supplemented my running ability through building additional strength through cycling.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? The plan definitely had speed work built into it, but more important to my success was training by HR and staying in the appropriate zones.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? In a nutshell here’s what got me a BQ:
1. I stopped winging it and started following a plan.
2. I became a triathlete and Ironman and became a much more well-rounded athlete.
3. I learned how to fuel myself from Ironman and applied it to the marathon.
4. I started a running streak a year and 10 months prior to my BQ. It helped my body adapt to the workload and made me stronger.
5. Lastly, I was patient and got to the point age-wise where my abilities finally met the Boston standards.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — David

Name: David

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 54

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 170

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

Tell us a little about the race. Small rolling hills but otherwise fast flat course. weather was light rain and lower 50’s light wind 5-10mph.Set out at 7:45-7:50 pace and felt good through mile 18.Slowed a bit but rejuvenated on a downhill section and ran my fastest the last 3 miles(7:20-7:25)

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 11 months

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 1800

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1800

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 3-1 half and 2 5k’s

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 in your training? If so, how? some 400m and 800m intervals

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Had not started running to run marathons but to get in shape for 5k’s. Then started piling on the mileage and didn’t want those to go to waste, so set a marathon goal before the end of my first year of running.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Robert

Name: Robert

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):  50

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5′ 11″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 150

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Marine Corps

Tell us a little about the race. Reasonably good conditions. Mid-40’s to mid-50’s, sunny, single digit wind.

This was also my first marathon, so plenty of rookie mistakes. Went out too fast and did not hydrate enough. OK race through about 16 miles, then the wheels started coming off. Hit the wall at 21 and had to run/walk the final five miles. Very painful. I didn’t even know the BQ standard for M50-54 at the time (3:30). I read some article about the race and qualifying for Boston and decided to check the standards. My time was about six or seven minutes under so I decided to grab the opportunity presented.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Overall 34 years, with a 22-year break in the middle.

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

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

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1715

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 7

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, Generally five running workouts a week. One long run on the weekend in the 14-18 range with two 20+ runs in the six weeks before the marathon. Used a number of 5K’s for speed work along with some tempo work. Based on the layout of the Marine Corps marathon route I worked on long hills about once a 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? Some strength training with light weights. Should have done more.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes. As noted above, the 5K races helped. I also used those to plug into a couple of the race predictor calculators to establish a rough goal pace. Used a few tempo runs to test that out.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Don’t repeat most of what I did! There are good training programs out there. Use them as a foundation. You can adapt them to fit you and your schedule, but they ground you in good, professional advice. Listen to your body. Better to take a day off than risk injury. Strength training/cross training is a key for most runners, if only to help avoid injury. Very likely they make you faster as well. Speed work is essential and needs to be offset by slower long runs. Join a running group or team, even if it’s just for the weekly or occasional long run.

If you are on the borderline for qualifying consider two things. A flat qualifying course and Nike Vaporflys. I think they are a big reason why Boston altered the standards last year. Finally, enjoy the journey and if you get the BQ, take it. The Boston experience is unique. It can be intimidating. Everyone is fast, the course is challenging and the conditions can be harsh but it will still rank high, if not at the top, of your marathon experiences.

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The BQ(Q) John

Name: John

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 53

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 146

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

Tell us a little about the race. Home course. Live on and train on it year round. Usually bad weather to run. Warm and humid.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 40+ years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? don’t keep records but it’s a bunch

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? unknown-see above 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

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Lift 3 times a week 5 times a week core

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? yes. one speed-fast day and long run with bq pace

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Get lean and run lots of miles. over 50. get a big base before you start running the bq paces. know your fitness pace, not the pace you want to run. time trial 5k and 13.1 and use daniel’s tables to figure out your bq race pace. don’t train with other runs. don’t make friends during the race, don’t talk to other runners. all business.Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

Max Elbaum, Author, Activist, Boston Qualifier

Max Elbaum isn’t just an accomplished runner, he’s also the author of the excellent Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin Mao and Che. Revolution in the Air is the first serious look at what happened to the American Left after 1968 and its an excellent read (I reviewed the book here).

Huge thanks to Max for taking the time to do this,

Name: Max Elbaum

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 51

Height: 6’3″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 170

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Napa Valley

Tell us a little about the race. 3:26:53. Every mile within 10 seconds of 7/53 per mile pace. Cool day, excellent running weather, very pretty course.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 4 years seriously, another few years of occasional jogging before that

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 8,500

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 2,200

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? No Run every day, 1 long run on the weekend, 1 speed workout during the 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? No

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how?  Yes. My first marathon had been 4 years before, 4:14, trained for that with long runs but no speed work. After that I incorporated speed work into training and my times improved, got into the 3:30s and then the 3:26 at Napa

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I turned 50 after my fourth marathon and had been getting close to a BQ. So I started on the chase. I missed the first 3 times I tried for various reasons – too hot a day, had a cold, like that. But didn’t give up and in my eighth marathon – Napa in 1999 – I made it with minutes to spare. Boston in 2000 was worth all the effort. After that I got off the speed-at-all-costs train, kept doing marathons and ran a couple more BQs but more concerned with being able to run for the long haul than running a new PR or getting another BQ. I’m now 69, about to turn 70, have run 38 marathons, all different ones, rather than do any course twice use the marathons to explore new places. good luck to all, enjoy every mile.

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – Bob Pollmann

Name

Bob Pollmann

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

53

Height:

5’5’

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

135

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

St.George Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

It could not have went any better! I had completed a great marathon training build up, so was plenty fit. Did a lot of early AM training, so the early start was perfect. Ran comfortably the entire race, getting mile splits on roadside timers on the course, I was ‘hot’ at every point – under my predicted/desired pace, as I was shooting for anything under 3:00 – 2:59:59 would have been ‘just fine.’ I only ate two gels along the way which proved to be adequate, and drank every several miles. I actually dropped some faster miles at the end of the race, and finished well below my goal of just under 3 hours, and ran a 2:53:52!

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

20 + years

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

No clue

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

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, not this time. Pretty much just ran.

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

Did speed work early in the prep phase – based on the ‘Canova’ model

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

I think that the key is getting in the solid ‘race pace’ runs – making them longer and longer