George was kind enough to email me with his BQ story. Thanks George, and good luck in Boston!
Name: George (MarathonGeorge)
Age (at the time of first BQ): 54
Weight (at the time of first BQ):150
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Chicago 2009
Tell us a little about the race.
I was lucky, perfect weather conditions, cold at the start and I was freezing as soon as I stopped running. I ran almost perfectly even splits for the whole race, never wavering by more than a few seconds from my goal pace. I did follow, sort of, a pace group but it was more like a group of runners who I was near most of the race. There would be times, like water stops, where I would be ahead or behind the group but we always seemed to sort of end up around each other. I debated pace a lot before the race and needed a 3:45 to qualify. All of my training had been done with a 3:30 goal in mind. I just knew I had a 3:30 in me. However in the weeks leading up to the race I went back and forth, go safe and conservative and run to the 3:45 or do what you think you are ready for and risk blowing up. I went for the 3:30.
Read the whole story here: http://wp.me/pIhgU-1
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?
Did you run in college or high school?
Nope, I was a swimmer – although we did a tiny bit of running during preseason.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
1,567 so far that year and I went on to run a total of 1,730 that year. Ran 1,600 in 2008
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, give us an idea of what your training philosophy was.
After 4 attempts using mainly Hal Higdon’s programs I finally got a local coach, Fernando Braz. He had me on a marathon program from January 1 to the October race. Most Tuesday nights I ran at the track with the group of runners he was training. His program was more demanding physically, although not a lot, and also focused on mental preparation. Overall philosophy would be a mix of long runs, endurance runs, speed work and solid base building. We also did more running at Marathon Goal Pace than I had in the past particularly at the end of long runs. For example, do 15 miles easy and then run 5 at MGP to finish a 20 mile long run. I firmly believe that Fernando made it possible for me to BQ and without him, I might not have reached the goal.
Here is a quote from my log:
My confidence grew with each week. The plan was hard but I was doing well, feeling strong, feeling fit and injury free. But even so, doubt always has a way of creeping into your mind. Then there was a test that changed my mind. With 6 weeks to go, one of those hard Saturday long runs, this one 23 miles with the last 5 at marathon pace. I ran a route that had me at the PA track after 16 miles. I wanted to know just what my pace was over that final 5. After one mile I thought, “Can I do this?” My second was sub 8 minute, as was the third, with the final two at 8. The last 5 miles of a really tough run in fewer than 40 minutes? Wow, my confidence was sky-high, with 6 weeks to go.
That is what Fernando did for me – physical and mental preparation.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
As well as using Fernando I belong to the Merrimack Valley Striders which was a way to connect for local races.
Did cross training play a role in your training?
I don’t stretch, cross train, do ice baths, use a form roller – I run – just run and I run for fun.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Really, if I can do it anyone can. I am not a super athlete, was no high school star, and did very little in college. I went through most of my adult life hardly doing anything athletic. But then at 45 or so took up running just because I was a little big and wanted to be healthier. I suppose in some ways age makes it possible. I am sure even when I was young I could have never managed a 3:10 but a 3:30 to 3:45 seems doable.
Goals work – set a goal – have a plan – work hard at it. I started 2009 with the goal to BQ and I focused all of my efforts to that goal. I made every training session and every race help me move towards that goal and I tried to keep that same focus in food, sleep, and mental preparation. Boy, achieving that goal was super fun. One of the greatest accomplishments of my life. Since I BQ’d I think of myself differently, I really am a marathoner, I qualified for and ran in the greatest marathon.
The road to the Super Bowl of running was not easy. Luck played a huge part, no injuries, no colds. Training was absolutely key, without Fernando it would not have happened. But then on race day it was about executing the plan. I am too old to make any mistakes; the margin for error is very small. But it worked. The race was just like a long training run. I have done it before, only this time I had 45,000 companions.