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

Marc G’s story of Qualifying for Boston

Name: Marc G

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 26

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’9

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 165 lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Carlsbad

Tell us a little about the race. First ever marathon, first year of running. Told a girl I would break 3 hours and she was waiting at the finish for me. Went out in 1:22 or so feeling like a rock star, finished in 2:59 seeing purple elephants flash before my eyes. But I did it. Didn’t run another one for well over 10 years. Bet if I would have run 3:00 instead I would have run another the same year.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 1 year

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 3000 (including childhood play I guess)

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1000

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? Yes

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Maybe I went to the gym, surfed, and swam a bit

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Our club did speed work one day a week

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

Boston Qualifier Scott’s Story

Name: Scott

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 27

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

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 140

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Erie

Tell us a little about the race.

Ran 2:58 relatively even split. Flat course. A little warm and sunny (mid-60 F)

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? 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? 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? No

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

Did very little to no cross training.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Did little speedwork. Shortest were some 400 repeats.

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

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Art

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire: Kevin McCabe

A great, detailed story of qualifying for Boston. Thanks Kevin for taking the time to write this up!

 

Name: Kevin McCabe

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):  36

Height (at the time of first BQ): 6’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 184.4

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Peak to Creek Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. Peak to Creek is great race in Western NC. It’s a net down hill race (Total Ascent: 285 ft, Total Descent: 2946 ft). It is about 6 miles of rolling hills to start (pace yourself in this section) because the next ~8.5 miles are steeply downhilll and you will get any lost time back. The next ~8.5 are flat, and the last 4 are slightly down hill. It’s run in Pisgah National forest along Wilson Creek and is quite beautiful.

My strategy was to run 7:11 over the first 6, then 6:50 down the hill, hang on for the next 8.5 at 7:11 and try to speed up on the downhill finish so I’d come in around 3:08. I ended up running about 7:20 to start, then about 6:43 down the mountain, but had so much energy left I ran about 7:00 pace for the next 10 miles, so I was able to ease up to about 7:20 into the finish to keep from blowing up over the last few miles and finished in 3:06:34 (a minute and a half faster than I had expected).

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? 6,400

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1600

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 18 races >5k, 18 5k’s

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? No

 

If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Historically followed Hal Higdon but had to modify due to heavy race volume

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

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Somewhat, I had been a triathlete for 6 years prior to BQ and had even done an easy effort half-ironman 6 weeks before. I think adding the swimming and biking helped me recover from the huge volume I ran in the spring time and huge intensity over the summer.

However, in the year prior to my BQ I had focused primarily on running. 7 months before my BQ I had completed my first 100 mile event which had required me to run ~250 miles a month as training. As a comparison, I had never exceeded 145 in a month training for a marathon.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? After the 100 miler in April I took about 6 weeks off completely. But starting in May my local run club hosts an all comers track meet. I spent 12 weeks attending every track meet running all 4 running events and the race walk event. I managed to set track PR’s in every distance except the 200m (100m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, mile, 3000m, 5000m). I was only running about 20-25 miles a week during the summer (primarily due to heat in NC). But every Saturday I would run a 5Km race.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Training for the 100 mile event really opened my eyes to what a solid endurance base can do for your speed. I also learned that in order to run fast, you have to run slow. Training for the 100 my usual long run pace was between 10:30-13:00 min/mile but I’d be running between 3-4 hours. My “fast” runs were between 8:45-9:30 (~130-155 HR). During training I was worried that I was losing speed. However, during my training I ran a very tough train marathon in 3:33, the next weekend I ran 2 marathons back-to-back. In all 3 marathons I started with an easy pace and picked up speed in the second half negative splitting two of them.

I had previously run a 3:16 and 3:24 marathon but faded BADLY in both. The increased mileage/endurance base helped me keep from fading in my BQ. After I had built up a sufficient endurance base, I worked on building up my speed. From there, I spent about 6 weeks balancing the two.

Finally, it took 3 years of work for me to get to my BQ from the time I set it as my goal. I didn’t have a necessarily linear path to achieving it, and may have been aided by a coach. I’m proud that I was able to get there on my own through trial and error and sheer dumb luck. I feel there were soooo many factors that helped me get there that this form wouldn’t fit but I listed the major factors in my training. Below are some additional factors in roughly descending order of impact:

1) BIG endurance motor – training for the 100 made the marathon seem easier and built up the aerobic motor
2) speed work – increasing speed while maintaining cadence
3) varied pace during training—really slow during long runs(10+min/mi), fast during speed workouts (<6:20 min/mi), in between for group runs (7:40-8:30 min/mi)
4) eliminate alcohol, caffiene and reduce sugar intake during training
5) Rest – used fitness tracker to monitor resting heart rate and hours of sleep per night/week
6) consistency – had 3 separate groups of friends on different days to run with (all were faster than I and could BQ by 20-30 minutes)
7) walking – I added a 2 mile walk every afternoon during work
8) diet – I ate fairly healthy but it was hard given the quantity necessary
9) data – I started keeping track of and analyzing my data (mileage per wee/month/year, resting HR, weight, etc)

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire: Charlie

Name Charlie

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 45

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5-7

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 140

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tell us a little about the race. OBX Marathon

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 30 years

Did you run in college or high school? Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 20,000+

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1100

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? Focused on increasing long run every couple of weeks until I could go 26 miles

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? No

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? After having run Boston 3 times now, I would say weekly/monthly mileage is the single most important factor. Being able to run 50+ miles weeks consistently is most effective training, then sprinkle in all the other extras.

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – Simon, Raymond and Benard

This is a cool one, and a first for the project. Three runners from the same club all qualified at the same race and sent in a joint response! For two of them, it wasn’t the first time they bq’ed, but for one of them it was.

Its also worth mentioning that Bernard Onsare is an elite runner, he WON the calgray marathon in 2013. Interesting, he also doesn’t track his miles.

Anyway, cool to see a group of runners do this together. Thanks so much for taking the time to share you story Raymond, Simon and Benard!

 

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Raymond, Benard and Simon

Names: Raymond Ong

Simon Ong

Benard Onsare

 

Club Website: https://www.facebook.com/obathletics/

Raymond’s Social Handles: https://www.instagram.com/rayong111/?hl=en

Simon’s Social Handles: https://www.instagram.com/simon.ong88/?hl=en

https://twitter.com/simonong88?lang=en

https://sites.google.com/site/yycmarathoner/

Benard’s Social Handles: https://www.instagram.com/benard.onsare/?hl=en

 

Sex: Male

 

Age: Raymond Ong 24 (first BQ)

Simon Ong 29

Benard Onsare 34

 

Height

Raymond Ong, Simon Ong, Benard Onsare 5’8

 

Weight

Raymond Ong and Benard Onsare 58 kg (127 lbs)

Simon Ong 78 kg (171 lbs)

 

At which marathon did you get your BQ?

Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017

 

Tell us about the race

Toronto Waterfront Marathon is one of the fastest running courses in North America. The organizers claim it is the second fastest course in North America. Although there are “mini” hills, the course is pretty flat and fast. Race morning starts with a temperature of 14 degree Celsius, which is optimal for anyone looking to run a personal best, or to obtain a Boston-qualifying time. There is relatively no wind, unlike previous years. However, as the race progresses, the temperature can reach to as high as 21 degree Celsius, making it hard to maintain the planned marathon pace. There is an aid station at every 2 to 4 km, which helps the participants to stay hydrate and fuel.

 

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

Raymond Ong earned his first BQ this year, and he has started running consistently for 3 years.

Simon Ong has earned his first BQ at Toronto in 2014, but this year, he managed to earn a second sub 3 marathon under his belt. Simon has been running for 6 years.

Benard is running his 23rd marathon, and has been in the elite marathon field for over 20 years.

 

Did you run in college or high school

Both Raymond and Simon have no running experience in high school or college. As in the article found in the Impact Magazine (http://impactmagazine.ca/fitness/running/simon-ong-raymond-ong/), Raymond went through a struggle with alcohol and smoking, and Simon went through a weight struggle. Raymond took up running under the influence of his brother, Simon, who lost over 60 pounds from running alone. Both Raymond and Simon took up running in their early mid-20’s.

Benard ran at a very early age.

 

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

Raymond Ong’s approximate lifetime mileage before his first BQ: 4,000 km in the last 3 years of running

Simon Ong’s approximate lifetime mileage before his first BQ in 2014: 6,000 km, however for this training, he put over 2200 km for the 22 weeks of marathon training (this year)

Benard Onsare’s approximate lifetime mileage: Does not count his miles

 

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

Raymond ran 2,524 km this year before his first BQ.

Simon ran approximately 1,880 km the year before his first BQ in 2014. This year (2017), he put in 3,800 km before his BQ and sub 3.

Benard does not really keep track of his mileage.

 

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

Raymond ran 5 races this year before his first BQ (‘1’ 3 km race, ‘1’ 5 km race, ‘2’ 10 km race, ‘1’ half marathon)

Simon ran 10 races this year (‘1’ 5 miles, ‘1’ 5 km race, ‘4’ 10 km race, ‘4’ half marathon)

Benard ran 6 races this year (‘4’ 10 km race, ‘2’ half marathon)

 

Did you follow a canned program?

 

Our training philosophy is to challenge the body and legs, but giving it enough time to adapt before adding a new challenge or stimulus. We believe in order to be a well-rounded runner; we must do a mix of everything (hills, speed, easy, tempo, long run). It’s like cooking chili, we cannot emphasize on only one ingredient. We must listen to our body, if our body is not ready for the next challenging workout, we either rest or do easy recoveries run. We limit to approximately 2 hard workouts a week, and the rest would be very easy conversational run.

 

Did you run with a club or utilize a coach?

We do not have an official club, but Benard Onsare has started the OB Athletic Club (based out of Calgary, Canada). It’s open to everyone. It is beneficial to do run as a group, because it keeps everyone honest, and accountable. Also, we are able to motivate each other, and to give each other feedback.

 

Did cross training play a roll? If so, how?

Both Raymond and Simon do weight training as their cross training. It improves speed, but also prevents running injuries down the road. However, to be good in running, we believe we have to run a lot, as we get good at what we practice often (Rule of Specificity).

 

Did speed work play a role? If so, how?

Most of our speed work is from doing hill work. When we are able to run fast uphill, then running fast on flat ground would seem much easier. Also, it teaches the body to run with better form, and it builds strength to handle the distance of a marathon. We often say to see running hills as “opportunity” to become faster.

 

Any other thoughts you’d like to share with those of us working towards a BQ?

It is important to see your training in a bigger picture. What we are trying to say is, there will be moment where you will experience the lows in training (e.g. GI upset, minor injury, sickness, unable to complete the workout or long run, etc.). In that moment, it is important to remind yourself that one “low” moment will not ruin your whole training plan. Treat it as a learning experience, and move on! Learn to trust your training plan, fitness, and have faith in yourself. If you do not believe in yourself, then it is very difficult for your mind to direct your body to achieving your desired goal. Do not be afraid of failure, as failure is part of the road to success, but success is much further down the road. Keep working, and sooner or later, you will achieve your BQ!

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – Dave Munger

Name

Dave Munger (http://mungerruns.blogspot.com)

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

44

Height:

6’2″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

190

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Richmond 2011

Tell us a little about the race.

Richmond was the perfect race to qualify for Boston — perfect weather, perfect terrain, perfect race organization. I needed a 3:25 to get in, which worked out to a 7:49 pace. I opted to go out around 7:30 and kept that up for the first half of the race. With some time in the bank I kept it under 7:49 through 20 miles. Then it was that tough slog to the finish. My slowest mile was 8:30 but I managed to hold it together enough to finish in 3:22:55, a 15-minute PR and a BQ!

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

30 years

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

20,000

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

2,700

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

10

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, Jack Daniels

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 much. I did a little strength training, Pilates, that sort of thing.

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

Yes, I did a lot of intervals and tempo work. I think that helped get me comfortable and strong for MP

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

For me, high mileage is the key to a marathon training plan. I need to run a lot of miles at an easy pace. Just getting those miles under my feet seems to be the only way to really kill it on race day. And of course, always be aware of your body and deal with any signs of injury sooner than later!