Nancy’s story of Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

Name: Nancy

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 39

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 110

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Poconos

Tell us a little about the race. Mostly downhill, but some small hills at the end that kill after you’ve burned up your quads doing so much downhill in the beginning

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 21 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 17,000

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

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? Yes, Hanson’s Beginner

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, very little cross training, although I spend very little time sitting during the day

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Yes, as part of Hanson’s plan. Although I did all of my speed work on the treadmill. I also eased into the speed work because Hanson’s has you do your first speed workout at 12 X 400. No way I could do that without working up to it, I’m almost 40 years old, I don’t want to get injured.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? This was my seventh marathon, although I had been close before. I think what really helped was staying next to the pacer the whole way. I stayed next to the 3:40 pacer, but lost him mile 21 or 22. The 3:45 pacer caught up with me but helped to push me to stride it out at the end. It was hard, no doubt, I was DEAD, but I just turned off my mind and went into robot runner mode.

I wish I had stuck with pacers for previous races–I just lacked the confidence to do it, or I would try to do negative splits. Just go all out, you have nothing to lose. If you DQ, you DQ, oh well, at least you tried to get the time you really hoped for.

Although I BQ’d, I only BQ’d by 45 seconds so I probably won’t get in. Oh, well, gives me something to work toward in future races.

I think I have read EVERY one of the BQ stories on this website, they have all been so inspiring! I have also gleaned good advice that I have applied to my training (like fast leg turnover, and running less hilly race courses.)

I still get teary eye’d thinking about the race. I’ve poured my heart into running, if you’re reading this I think you know what I mean. Don’t give up!!

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

How Chiara Qualified for Boston 9 months after giving birth

Name: Chiara

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 36

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’0″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 106

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? 2014 St George Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. I wasn’t sure I was going to go for BQ so soon after having my daughter (St George was 9.5 months postpartum). I threw my name into the lottery for St George (back when it was still a lottery – I think now it isn’t) and decided that if I got in, I would go for it. Well, I ended up getting selected so I was all-in.

I used the Runners World SmartCoach which, the old version, you could specify the race date, and initial mileage. It would spit out a plan with paces, and projected finish time. It was a pretty cool program – too bad it’s not free anymore.

Race day (after having to do new mom pre-race preparations like pump and dump!), it ended up being a bit warmer than usual – the bonfires at the top of the mountain were pretty much unnecessary (usually it’s in the 30s at the start). I started the race in a tank and shorts (no arm warmers). I had a 2 liter Nathan hydration pack on and by the end I had emptied it (so ~66 ounces of Nuun).

The first half of STG was more difficult than I expected. The first 7 miles are downhill and then you climb through rolling hills for 6 miles at ~4500 feet elevation. Not being using to running at elevation, my quads were burning and my pace dropped considerably (Oxygen, where are you? :D). When I hit the half at 1:49:41, I was convinced a BQ wasn’t going to happen.

But then you get to the really downhill part of the course, and you can make up time as long as you’ve saved something. At mile 18 and 21 you get a couple more smaller climbs and with the heat, they felt hard. I was on auto pilot at this point, just putting one foot in front of the other, not having given up on my goal, just yet. I knew it was going to be close.

This course has so few turns, that my Garmin mile splits were never too far ahead of the mile markers. Thank God for that because it was close. I crossed 3:37:14, BQ-2:46. As it turns out, Boston 2016 had a cutoff of 2:28, so I squeaked in with 18 seconds to spare.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Since 1993, so 21 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? No idea. Lots. Many thousands probably.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? About 1000. My BQ was 9 months after having my daughter.

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, RW SmartCoach back when it was free

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.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? I followed the SmartCoach plan, it had one quality workout per week and alternated between tempos (5 miles) and mile repeats (x4). The only thing that changed was as the weeks went by, the prescribed pace for them got faster.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Some folks have natural running talent and can BQ on their first or second attempt. The more likely scenario is that you have to work for it. I ran two marathons in 2003 (4:26 and 4:30 finish times), felt it was nearly impossible that I would ever BQ. I took a break from running marathons and running regularly, in general.

I started up again in 2010, and by the beginning on 2013, I had run quite a few marathons (IDK, 10 maybe?) and the closest I got was BQ + 4:00. It took having a baby (which, strangely, fired me up to work hard), 21 weeks of training, and a very favorable course to get my first BQ. It was the most work I’ve put into a marathon (at that point in my life).

Before that, I think I expected I could just train for 8-12 weeks and see what happened. For those with good running genes, this might work just fine, for most, you gotta put in the time and miles and it might take a many attempts to achieve it. The point is, it’s not impossible. At 36, I proved that to myself 25-year-old- 4:30-marathon self.

The BQ(Q) – Diane Berberian

Diane in legally blind. She first qualified for Boston in 1995 before she lost her vision, but she has since qualified again as a blind runner. She’s an incredible inspiration. Check out her story below and be sure to follow her on social media! Thanks Diane for taking the time to share your story.  

Name

Diane Berberian (www.dianeberberian.org or @dianeberberian or irondiane on instagram

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

38

Height:

5’2″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

120

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Jacksonville Bank in Jacksonville. FL

 

Tell us a little about the race.

Small event in numbers. FLAT. January.

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?

Not sure? I have always been a low mileage/week due to injury prevention

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

~37 miles per week

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

30 or more of varied distances but only 1 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, I had a coach. Speed work was weekly, tempo runs and long runs. Although he tried to get me to do more miles my body kept breaking down. That was the year I became a triathlete. LOL

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

Yes

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

Absolutely. I could not and still do not tolerate high mileage so I did lots of swim and bike. Actually did so much that I did an Iron man triathlon that year.

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

Absolutely. I was a very strong runner both mentally and physically.

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

I need to add that the first year that I qualified was 1995 and chose not to go to Boston since I loved triathlon more. I did not even try again until 2012 when I was legally blind and qualified with the qualifying time being slower. I am no         where near the 3:42 that I was in 1995.

Legally blind endurance athlete Diane Berberian

The BQ(Q) – Lucy

Name

Lucy (@libgeeksgirl)

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

37

Height:

5ft

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

8 stone (112 pounds)

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

London 2015 (UK)

Tell us a little about the race.

Last few miles were hard and pace dropped a bit, but still managed my aim of under 3:30, really enjoyed the first 17 miles! Great crowd and atmosphere. Pacing was better than Manchester in 2014, although time was slower.. I put this down to the course and size of field.

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?

Maybe 4000 miles?

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

Probably under 1000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

About 15, some were triathlons

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. Myasics… Speed work, tempo run, long run

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 train for triathlons, so also swim twice a week and cycle regularly.

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

Yes. Do speed work sessions weekly. I think they really help my running.

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

I think consistent running and speed work are important. There’s no way to run faster without running faster!

 

The BQ(Q) – Danielle

Name

Danielle

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

36

Height:

5’2”

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

105

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Myrtle Beach

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

8 years

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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?

1500

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?

No

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

Pilates

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

Yes. Twice a week

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

Time and experience.
Also long slow distance runs aren’t enough. I had to pick up the pace in the long runs.

The BQ(Q) – Elizabeth C (Boston Bound)

I love all the BQ(Q) responses, but I really love the ones from people who’ve put in a lot of time running before they ran a BQ, I mean runners like Elizabeth who’d run over 18,000 before her BQ. Congratulations, Elizabeth! Great work!

Name

Elizabeth C http://www.ElizabethClor.com, Boston Bound

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

36

Height:

5’5

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

114

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

B & A Marathon

What was your finishing time?

Tell us a little about the race.

This race is run on a paved “rails to trails” course in Severna Park, MD. It’s relatively small with approximately 200-300 finishers. The course profile is mainly flat with some inclines, and just one significant hill.

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

14 years

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

18,000

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

2150

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.

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

Yes. I did speed work twice a week, and sometimes I incorporated speed into long runs.

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

For me, the problem was more of a mental block than a physical one. I think I could have BQ’ed 5-6 years sooner if I didn’t have a mental block + performance anxiety.

The BQ(Q) – Kimberly B

Here’s a great new BQ(Q) with Kimberly who qualified by running a 3:26 at Columbus. Congrats, Kimberly!

Name: Kimberly B

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 38

Height: 5′ 8″

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

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

What was your finishing time?  3:26

Tell us a little about the race.

The weather was great in 2006 with lows in the mid-30s and high topped out in the mid 50s, I think. The course is fast and flat with very nominal ‘hills’ on overpasses and crowd support on the cloverleaf designed course that also happens to wind through the OSU campus area is amazing and easy for friends and family to see you multiple times if they want.

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

6 months

Did you run in college or high school?

I ran track in High School but didn’t run again for about 20 years when my daughter started running track in junior high

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

I don’t keep a running journal and aside from maybe 300 a season in High School and 100 a season in junior high I averaged about 50 mpw in the 6  months leading up to the Columbus marathon so maybe 2600 mile lifetime total before BQing at my first marathon?

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

Maybe 1200?

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

I ran a race series with 5ks, 10ks, 15k, half-marathon and a 20 miler  … I think I ran a race about every 3 weeks from May thru Sept leading up to my BQ at the Columbus Marathon

Did you follow a canned program?

Altered, but I did Pfitzinger/Douglas marathon training for less than 55 mpw

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

No, just ran on my own and made my training plan on some notebook paper

Did cross training play a role in your training?

Yes, I was working at the local Y as a swim instructor and aerobics instructor as well as doing 3x/week strength training with plyometrics at the end and stretching for 20 minutes each day (mostly pilates)

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

Yes, I followed the protocol of Pfitzinger’s book I did the 2 mile time trial and based my weekly interval workouts on my time according the directions in the book and I did my Lactate Threshold/tempo/marathon pace workouts too as best I could fit them along with the training races as they fit into the racing series schedule I signed up for.     Multi-speed training is the key to reaching one’s personal potential.  I am a strong believer in specificity of training.

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

Pay attention to your body, take a rest day if you are fading in your workouts, take some time off if you get injured and instead of aiming for some random ‘time’ posted on the BQ page you should instead focus on becoming your very best and attack each workout with purpose.  Know what the goal of a long slow run is, know why you need to find your range for VO2Max workouts, know what a Lactate Threshold workout is for and hit that zone.  Do not race every workout nor do every workout at LSD.   Live with purpose and run with purpose.    Have FUN.