Meredith’s Story of Qualifying for Boston Marathon

Name: Meredith

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 29

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 110

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Chicago

Tell us a little about the race. Flat, fast, tons of support and mental distraction. was great weather the year I went as well. Was first marathon so wasn’t sure what to expect but thought it was awesome and I went back again the following year.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? I was a 3 sport athlete in high school, college basketball and soccer player but never long distance runner. Joined track shack program 5k/10k after moving to FL 6 years post college (still playing lots of indoor soccer). Went from 5k/10k to joining sat long runs for fun. From there I liked the long running.

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? no idea

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? no idea

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 1

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, Part of track shack program.

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

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

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Tempo one day and track one day or hills one day with track the other. And long runs on weekends.

My more successful marathoning and much faster marathoning has come 11 years later. Longer tempos, pick ups during long runs (barely any track work) and increased mileage.

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

For me the mileage build during base has been really helpful in getting stronger. I don’t do a ton of all our hard speed, but a lot more sustained longer efforts, longer runs during base, and pick ups during long runs to not let pace get stagnant.

My first marathon was a 3:38 in 2005 (29 years old). Down to 3:20 in 2011 (36), and 3:07 in 2013 (38) – after living in Boone for almost 2 years – I swear elevation and always having hills involved was huge help in addition to hiring a coach in 2011 and increasing mileage.

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Rochelle

Name

Rochelle

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

20

Height:

5’0”

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

100

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Des Moines IMT Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

I was undertrained and nearly died the last few miles but was only saved because I started out faster than my BQ pace.

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

2 yrs (running marathons for 6 months)

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

1000

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

500

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

2

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?

 

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?

No speedwork or any type of formal planning, mostly just putting as many miles as I could in given my limited grad student schedule 😦

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

I got lucky that time because I ran a BQ-2:09 and the cut-off was…exactly -2:09. But I actually trained my butt off for Boston (50-60 miles per week, tempo runs, 3 20+ milers, etc) so hopefully I BQ with a muuuuuch larger window. Fingers!

The BQ(Q) Sarah Bard

Some people just give us the bare minimum when they fill out the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire. Others give us the real detail we’re looking for. Thanks to Sara for going the extra mile and really sharing her story!

Name

Sarah Bard @sarahjbard

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

24

Height:

5’3″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

~115

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Chicago

Tell us a little about the race.

Boston was actually my first marathon ever – I went to Wellesley (half way point of the course) – received an entry in 2006, ran, and had a very rough race. I had a hard time wanting to ever run again, let alone run a marathon after that. But in the summer of 2008, after a couple years of living in Montana and hiking lots, but running little, we found ourselves moving to Chicago.

As Chicago is known as a good “first-timers” race, I thought it was a great opportunity to try to redeem myself at the marathon distance (and by that I mean, finish without spending the entire second half wanting to die), and if possible, qualify for Boston so I could return to that course and have a positive experience there.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the race, but I do remember being a bit surprised by my finishing time. My first marathon/Boston, I ran a 4:02. As I noted, my goal for Chicago was to have a good experience at the marathon distance, and IF POSSIBLE (as a very secondary goal), squeak in a BQ (at the time, 3:40 for women of my age group). I surprised myself by running 3:15.xx and was on my way to Boston the next spring.

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

~12 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 idea, but I had run 3 seasons through high school, and just xc in college.

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

I’m not sure, but probably trained around 40-60 mpw for 16 weeks leading up to Chicago

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

Not many, maybe 5 or so, local 5k – 10k 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?

Yes, I hadn’t REALLY trained for a marathon before, so I bought Hal Higdon’s book. Instead of following one of his specific programs though, I looked at them all and tried to find what was consistent across all levels: primarily the long run. I used the other days as a guide, but was flexible to my work schedule and my body’s tolerance. However, I stayed true to the long run and made sure to increase steadily over training and to always make the time/effort to get that in each 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?

I’m a terrible cross trainer. So, no.

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

I don’t recall doing any specific track workouts – and at this time I had really been away from the “workout” scene for about 2 years (since graduating from college).

However, like the long run, the other consistent aspect of Higdon’s training schedules is a workout, often a tempo. So, if I was feeling good/recovered, I would try to get in a tempo or a progression each week. Often I didn’t plan these out ahead of time like I would in my training now. I didn’t say: today is 8 miles of tempo at x pace. Instead I would say, ok, I’m going to start my run, then I’ll see what pace I’m at. I’ll try to pick it up each mile, until I feel like I’ve gotten in a good effort. We had just moved to Chicago, and the lakeshore path (and it’s marked mileage) was great for that. Over the course of training, I’d just try to make it a little further than I had the previous time at an uptempo pace.

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

I think the most helpful thing anyone can do is educate themselves. There are a lot of training regimens out there, a lot of people giving advice about what worked for them. However, you’re the one in your body and while it’s good to have someone pushing us and our expectations, it’s also good to be open to learning what works for ourselves specifically (and that may change over time).

When I started moving up in distance, I read a lot. I still read a lot. It’s good to know your options and it’s good to know what other people have done that has been successful. Because honestly, a lot of training is being confident in what you’re doing. So while I do think there are key things to help someone achieve a marathon goal (workouts/long runs) – both of which make you stronger and able to better tolerate what you’re asking your body to do – I think that training regimens can vary greatly across runners. Over the past 10 years, I’ve learned that my body likes reasonably high mileage, but I’ve run with other women who have faster marathon PRs than I do, and they train at weekly mileage that is about half of what I run. Am I wrong, are they right? It’s not that straightforward.

Maybe in the early days that would have made me nervous and second guess my training, but I’ve learned that we’re all different and can be successful training in a variety of ways.

Also, if you’re new-ish to marathons: don’t try to rush your training! It’s hard to play the long game, but I started conservatively with the marathon distance and it really helped over the 7-8 years that I focused on that distance. Be thoughtful about your previous running experience and build! Find hard workouts, but adapt if you need to. Take easy days. If you’re body isn’t responding, seek advice and don’t be afraid to reevaluate.

The BQ(Q) – Dorothea T

Name

Dorothea T

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

24

Height:

5′ 5.5”

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

131

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Fort Lauderdale Marathon 2016

 

Tell us a little about the race.

It was a good race. I had been training for it since September of 2015, first aiming for a 5K PR and then building up my training to the race. Picked up a half-marathon PR along the way too. But basically, the race had ideal conditions for a BQ- flat course, good weather, good support on the course. I struggled with keeping a constant pace, flipping between 7:45 and 8:00 when I should have tried to hold a 7:55 or so. This came to affect me in the end, where it was all I could do to hold 9 minute miles after mile 24. I had actually aimed for a sub-3:30, with 3:33 as a soft “B” goal. I’m glad I made it just under that in 3:32:54! But it was the first marathon I raced like a race, so that part is good and it allowed me to tap into my potential. I only hope to get faster from here!

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

10 years (started competitively in high school, ran recreationally since then)

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

~10500 (maybe more. I didn’t track my high school mileage)

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

~1500 (starting Feb 2015)

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

1 (other) marathon, four 5ks, 1 10k, and 1 half (starting Feb. 2015)

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 followed the basic outline of one interval session, one tempo session, two easy runs, and one long run a week. What these sessions looked like depended on what looked “fun” to me on that day.

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

No

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

Not really. After my April marathon, I played soccer a lot and used that to stay in shape, and then did a lot of bike riding over the summer. But during marathon training, I was glad just to have the time to get my runs and strength work in! The strength work was important. It was relaxing for me (compared to the constant pounding of running) and made me have a strong core and upper body that made up for the extra weight I carry around. I only did cycling in the early part of my training on days I didn’t have time to run, or when I was worried about injury.

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

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

Yes. Every week I made sure to get speed work in. It was almost always 1 or 1.5 mile intervals at 5K pace. 4-6 of them after a 1-2 mile warm-up, with 800 meter recovery jogs. Near the end (last three weeks) I did 800s, then 400s, then 200s. These shorter bursts made me feel like I was fine tuning my speed, but keeping it easy to recover from.