The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Derick

Name: Derick

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 29

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 153

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Kiawah Island

Tell us a little about the race. Pancake flat course with half marathoners splitting off at mile 9. 50° and 100% humidity at the start approaching 60° by the finish. Just one other guy with me after the split. Ran together until he started slowing at the half. Seemed like everyone was falling apart on the 2nd half as I was passing everyone I saw. Struggled hard with quad pain last 7 miles, but managed to maintain pace for the most part.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 15 years, on and off, 5 continuous

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 13000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1870

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 19

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? Yes. My quads were what always failed on my late in the marathon. After a couple of PRs that spring I had a foot injury. After a few weeks off, I only ran about 25miles/week that summer and biked heavily. Didn’t start increasing mileage until September after nearly breaking the half PR I set before the injury.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yeah, that was one of my only runs during the summer.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I had planned on running a marathon the previous December, but bailed late. Started hitting 60 mile weeks and ran 3 20 milers. Had some huge PRs in 8-15K races along the way.

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How Nicolas Shaw Qualified for Boston Marathon

Name: Nicholas Shaw

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 22

Height (at the time of first BQ): 5’8

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 135

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Baltimore

Tell us a little about the race. I had no idea I was going to do the race until the day before I was offered a free entry through the company I worked for. I was doing about 40-60 miles a week of essentially only base mileage. Since I knew it was a hard course and I had never run more than 16 miles at once I was expecting around a 3:15. I ended up going 2:54 while getting progressively faster throughout the race, needless to say I was pretty shocked.

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? 15,000

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

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Probably 15 most in the begining of the year (10K or shorter though)

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, Base mileage and lots of fruits and veggies

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Did some general strength and lifting

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Was only a collegiate track team at the beginning of the year, but once I graduated all I did was base except for the occasional set of hill sprints.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Don’t use generic training plans. Do your own research and figure out how your body works. There is too much genetic variance among individuals to follow cookie cutter training plans. If you can figure out the way your body adapts to certain stimuli you can optimize training.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Nathan

Name: Nathan

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 28

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5ft9

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 138 pounds

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? 138 pounds

Tell us a little about the race. The race had perfect weather for running, 50 degrees and overcast. When I was in the start corral I didn’t have so much of a nervous feeling but a more confident feeling of knowing my goal and how I was going to run the race. I knew that the last 10km of the race had the most hills so my goal was to run even splits throughout and not attempt a negative split, went through half way in 1:27 and just concentrated on hitting the splits, miles 21-24 was almost a gradual incline and was the slowest 5k of the race for me and I then had to stop for 3 minutes as I had cramp, I began to panick as each step caused me to cramp up but I managed to get to the 26 mile marker knowing that I was still on for sub-3 hours and almost had a sprint finish to ensure I did get under 3. I crossed the line in 2:59:30. For the next 3 months I had to wait for the registration for Boston to open and hope that more than a 5 minute cushion was sufficient and just a couple days after registering I got confirmation that I was Boston bound.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 2 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 2000

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

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 My training was not structured, I just ran for at least one hour per day, 6 days per week. Mostly easy runs but would do a long run every weekend of 16-20 miles always with some MP miles either in the middle of second half of the 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 in your training? If so, how? I didn’t do much speed work per se but I would frequent a local Parkrun which was a nice change to just run fast over a relatively short distance, made MP much more manageable.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Be consistent with running during your training, don’t obsess over the stats, just run most days and do that for at least a few months. Run by feel and some days that will feel easier than others, run a variety of paces during your training. When you turn up for your BQ attempt be confident and focus on how good you will feel when you achieve your goal.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Vanessa Jimenez

Name: Vanessa Jimenez

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 25

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’6

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 125

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

Tell us a little about the race. It was amazing weather for the race: low to mid 30’s at the start and low wind. I started out slower than I wanted for the 1st mile because of the crowd of people, but hit my stride by mile 2. From there on I just zoned in on what I had been doing in training. I took gels at miles 6,13, and 19 and rotated between Gatorade and water at aid stations. I averaged around 7:50 pace up until mile 22 when an excruciating side cramp killed some of the fun. From then until the finish it was all I could do to just keep moving along. I’m not proud to say that I did walk about 100 feet somewhere around mile 24 but I picked it back up and continued on, hitting my goal of a first marathon BQ at 3:30:40!

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Off and on since middle school- 13 years-ish

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? Not sure- about 500 miles total since I began training for the race

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Just the marathon and a 5k about 8 months prior

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 Higdons novice 2

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 teach and take many Pure Barre classes which is a fantastic low impact cross training for running

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? No, the only speedwork I did was some tempo runs

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Set a realistic goal, but let yourself dream a little. Do the training and trust what you’ve already discovered your body can do. Growing up as a dancer, I view a race as a performance. Follow everything you did in rehearsal, just throw in that extra level of sparkle and passion, and if you screw a few things up, there can always be another performance.Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

Stefanie B’s story of qualifying for Boston Marathon in her first marathon

Name: Stefanie B

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 23

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’2″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 103

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? NYC Marathon 2013

Tell us a little about the race. I qualified in my first marathon, and had no expectations. My main goal was to finish, but to run sub 3 hours was icing on the cake. I was coming off of competitive college training, and was still being coached by my previous college coach. I knew I was capable of a good time, but still did not have a goal in mind since it was my first marathon. Marathon morning was freezing (in the 30s’) and extremely windy so conditions were not the best. My most memorable memory will always be how my shoelace came untied within the first mile of the race – I will never forget that! (and yes, I had to stop and tie it…was only the first mile of 26!).

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 10 years (since I was 13)

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, haha. Basically ran 30-40 mile weeks during High School. When I went to college, I was consistency running 70-80 mile weeks.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Again no idea, but I was still doing at least 60-70 mile weeks since I was still being coached my my college coach.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Maybe somewhere between 8-10. I did several local 5ks races, and a half-marathon leading up to my 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? No, Basically followed my college coaches plan and philosophy which was based on Jack Daniels. He believed in running minutes (not miles), and of course incorporated tempos and interval training.

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 did not cross train much during marathon training since I was running high mileage weeks.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes – at the time I still wanted to keep my times fast for 5ks, so my coach would give me speed work at the track as well (i.e. 400s, 800s, etc.).

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? It is a very great accomplishment, and you should celebrate when you qualify. Unfortunately for me, I have yet to run a Boston Marathon since I injured myself after my first marathon, and almost injured myself prior to Boston 2015. I had to cancel Boston 2015, and so now I am looking at Boston 2018. My advice to you is to train smart, eat right and listen to your body.

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How Lauren D qualified for the Boston Marathon

Name:  Lauren D

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 30

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 135

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

Tell us a little about the race. Sugarloaf Marathon was my second marathon; I ran my first at Baystate in October 2016 and I think I was just on the verge of 3:35 at that point if everything went perfectly, but I had a tough day (chest cold and then nausea/vomiting) and finished walk/jogging in a disappointing 3:48 and change. After that race I put in a TON of work for Sugarloaf, had a decent but not 100% perfect race day, and all the work paid off. I toed the start line perfectly healthy, nutrition strategy was on point, and I paced the race really well (1:46:36 first half, 1:46:05 second half). The first half felt easy even with the big climb in miles 8-10, the last 5 or so miles were torture in the sun, but I knew if I kept moving I’d have the BQ at that point so I just got it done. I slowed a little in the last few miles but had enough gas left for a hard kick at the very end.

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

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? 2700

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 10 – not all goal races/100% effort, though

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, Designed by my coach – medium-long, long, workout, and 3-4 easy days.

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Not really. I strength trained a little but dropped it in favor of more mileage pretty early on (time constraints).

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes – lots of hill sprints and strides early on, a very few track workouts (mostly 10k pace or slower) in the last 6 weeks. Longer tempos at marathon pace or a little faster throughout training. Timed intervals on the road – between 10K-HM pace with recovery just a little slower than marathon pace. HILLS. I didn’t run the hills hard outside of the short sprints, but I ran a lot of them and especially tried to get them in toward the end of medium-long and long runs when I was tired.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Keep working! Lifetime mileage and a healthy dose of mental toughness will get you there.

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – Jen S

Name: Jen S

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 25

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’5.5″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 115

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?  Baystate Marathon, Lowell, MA

Tell us a little about the race. I had no idea standing on the start line that I was going to run a BQ, or go sub-3:30, or run a 43-minute PR that day. But crazily, all three happened in one race! All I knew going in was that I felt fit and strong, and the only real goal I had for the race was for my run to reflect that. Baystate is a flat and fast course, and the weather was perfect for a marathon that day (low 50s, crisp and clear, calm winds), as it usually is during fall in New England. I felt good and strong throughout the race and ran fairly even splits (<1min positive split from the half).

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

Did you run in college or high school? No

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? <1000?

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 8, all were shorter running races and some triathlons including my first half 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? No, 1 tempo, 1 speed session, and 1 long run per week. Easy recovery days mixed in to bring up the mileage totals and flush out the hard efforts.

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, I think it was a pretty big factor, in retrospect. The year I BQ’d was the first year I started doing triathlons, and so I’d done some more cycling than usual and WAY more swimming that I ever had in my life (still a terrible swimmer, though!). Tri training helped push my fitness into new territories, and if I had to distill the “secret” of making big gains in marathoning into a line or two, it’s that you just have to be overall quite fit (doesn’t have to be triathlons, just whatever effectively builds up your aerobic capacity) before starting to do marathon-specific work. The combo of those 2 things will get you quite far, in my opinion. Sounds obvious, but I’m guessing it’s not done in practice as much as it should be!

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? I did longer tempos (9-11 mile range, during the week/in addition to the weekly long run) and I think they are really helpful for me. Plus they are my favorite kind of workout.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Just the 2 things: 1) be fit and 2) medium-long run tempos.