The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Most Popular Marathons

I started this post thinking it’d be interesting to see at which marathons BQ(Q) respondents tended to qualify.

Here is what I learned – people BQ all over the damn place.

Of the 162 responses I have posted so far, runners have qualified at roughly 102 different marathoners.* In a world where a small number of marathons get the most attention, that’s pretty remarkable.

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The vast majority of the marathons were named by only one runner. However, a couple of marquee races were named by multiple respondents –12 people qualified at the New York City Marathon, 11 at Chicago and 11 at Baystate (widely considered one of the best marathoners for BQ).

After that it trails off to ones and twos. I’m not sure if NYCM, Chicago and Bay State are any faster, more likely, they’re just very popular.

What can we learn from this data? I’m not sure. Perhaps that it isn’t worth your time trying to cherry pick the right marathon; you can qualify just about anywhere.


*This count is a bit rough since its possible people are using different names for the same marathon.

Top Ten Stand Alone Posts and Pages

Of the over 700 posts and pages on this website, here are top ten “stand alone” pages which are neither Boston Qualifier Questionnaire responses nor book reviews. Its a funny grab bag of stuff. Check ’em out below:

  1. Fitness Habits of Disgraced Generals
    A silly little piece chronicling the fitness habits of Generals McCrystal and Petraeus.

  2. The Egoist on the Fixed Gear
    Some thoughts on the bad behavior of some New York City cyclists.

  3. Divine Madness
    A resource page on the cult/new relgious community/running group also know as “the Community”.

  4. Running Heroes – The Six Women of the 1972 New York Marathon
    A short piece on the running activists who protested the 1972 marathon

  5. Milo and the Calf
    The story of Milo of Croton after whom this website is named.

  6. The Hero Brought Low: Representations of Milo in Art
    s the title says, a short piece on the way Milo of Croton has been represented in art.

  7. Phil Coppess – Hero to Working Stiff Runners
    An appreciation of the incredible amateur runner whose twenty year old course record at the Twin City Marathons still stands.

  8. 12 Thoughts on the New York Marathon Course
    An overview of the New York City Marathon Course

  9. Weight and the Marathoner
    On the role body weight plays in marathon performance

  10. Alex Honnold and the Viewers Guilt
    My thought on climber Alex Honnold and watching free soloing.

2015: My Physical Year

What is there to say about my physical year? I did more than I did in 2014, but still not nearly enough. It’s never enough. I could beat myself up over that, but instead, I’ll let the numbers do the talking.


  • I ran 1383.6 miles in 2015. That’s about 300 more than in 2014. I was shooting for 2000 (again) and guess what? I failed (again).
  • Those 1,383.6 miles were spread across 176 sessions, for an average of 7.85 miles per run. In total, I spent a little over 228 hours running.
  • Nearly half my running (631 miles) was done in Prospect Park where I ran 80 different times.
  • My longest runs were my two marathons, Vermont City and New York City. I also ran one other race, the Brooklyn Half Marathon.


  • For my fortieth birthday this year, E got me a very nice bike. So far, I’ve put 416 miles on it.
  • I also put 206.8 miles on my dear old Pista for a total of 622.8 cycling miles in about fifty hours.

Swimming and other stuff

  • I swam a bit this year as well, not much, but some. It ended up being only about 5 miles in only about three hours.
  • In addition to my running races, I also did the New York City Triathlon, which I loved, and which I hope to do again this year.
  • I also did the occasional body weight work, but not enough to really track.


I had high hopes of this year, but again did not meet them. I think in the coming year, I need to revaluate how much time I really have, and how much commitment I genuinely have, and set my goals appropriately. But that’s for a post for a later day.

Bridges Project: Willis Avenue Bridge

You cross five bridges during the New York City Marathon – the Verrazano, the Pulaski, the Queensboro, the Willis Avenue, and the Madison Avenue. By the time you get to the Willis, if you’re like me, you’re hurting, but if you’ve got some sense of your surroundings left, you’ll notice it’s a pretty nice (and new!) bridge. The Willis Avenue Bridge connects Willis Ave. in the Bronx at E. 135th St. and Bruckner Blvd. with 1st Ave. in Manhattan at 125th St. It has a wide pedestrian walk way on the west side and provides excellent views of the Harlem river. I didn’t stop during the New York Marathon, but I did stop on a training run I took up there a couple of weeks before.

Entrance to the bridge from the Manhattan side is at the intersection 1st Ave and 125th. On the Bronx side, you enter the pedestrian pathway at 135th Street and Willis Avenue. This one is among the newest bridges in New York City. If you’re in upper Manhattan or the South Bronx its worth checking out, even if you’re not at Mile twenty of the New York Marathon.

More great information on the Willis Avenue Bridge can be found on Phil’s website. 

Race Autopsy: the 2015 New York City Marathon

Race reports are boring for everyone but the runner who writes them. This one is probably no different. Yet when you spend over four hours running around New York City for no goddamn reason, you want to memorialize it somehow. Here’s some thoughts on my day.

4:30 AM We’ll start at the beginning – our apartment, 4:30 am. I wake up after not much sleep, make coffee, drink it, toast a bagel, eat it. Peel a banana and do the same.

5:30 AM I’m out the door and off to the Prospect Park Track Club bus to the start.

6:30 AM We arrive on Staten Island. It is almost four hours before my scheduled start time. I love the New York City Marathon, and I understand how difficult it is to get 50,000 runners into the park for the start, but sitting on a trash bag in a parking lot for four hours sucks.

I talk to some PPTC team mates and some stranger from Italy and Illinois. I listen to a podcast and generally mill about. The time passes, slowly.

9:45 AM I make my way to the starting corral. Chaos reigns. For a minute it looks like a couple of hundred runners in my corral are not going to get a Wave 2 start, but eventually, the powers that be relent and we make our way to the bridge.

10:15 AM Gun goes off and we’re running. I’m using a 3:59:00 pace band I downloaded off the internet and I follow it religiously for the first 16 or so miles. The pace chart called for going much easier than I wanted to up and over the bridge. I hoped that taking it easy early on would pay dividends later on down the road, but as will become clear, it wasn’t to be.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM* I  cruise through the early miles and get to 4th and Union where PPTC, E and friends J and M are cheering their heads off. I look for my son, but as I will learn later, he’s dead asleep in his stroller. The miles through Park Slope and Fort Greene are my favorite part of the course. Huge crowds, tons of bands, and drum circles. Friends, it seems, on every corner. I see R, L and T all within a mile stretch. T is so excited he trips me. I’m hitting my mile pace goals without too much trouble. I begin to think this is my day.

 12:15 PM The Queensboro Bridge. Last time I ran New York, this was where the wheels really came off the bus. But today, I’m feeling good. Those around me? Maybe not so much. New York really isn’t a PR course, and that’s for a lot of reasons. The hills, the winding course, and the fact that the roads are packed with runners all make the course amazing, and not particularly fast. I make it through the bridge without too much trouble, but not at the pace I was hoping for.

12:15-1:15 PM The crowds on First Avenue are enormous, and they make a hell of a lot of noise. But somehow (and maybe this is hometown bias) they don’t have the organic wonder of the Brooklyn scene. Still, they help. I’m definitely starting to feel the miles. I begin making deals with myself. I do math — hoping I can come up with a calculus that gets me across the finish line in under four hours. Yet despite my best efforts, at the base of the Willets Avenue Bridge, it all begins to go wrong. My left leg starts cramping. I stop to stretch, but that makes the cramping worse. I walk a bit, run a bit, and plod along. I see my hopes of a four hour marathon fade.

1:15-2:15 PM Dark days. I run some, I walk some. The cramping in my left leg comes and goes. I begin itemizing everything I did wrong in my training. Missed too many runs, ate too much bad food, didn’t do enough speed work, didn’t do enough in weekly mileage, didn’t get enough sleep. It’s a long list,* and I have plenty of time to itemize it.

Still, this is New York, and it is fucking amazing. Reggaton DJ in the Bronx, gospel choir in Harlem.  Huge crowds at every corner.

No other city is like this, no other marathon is like this.

2:15-2:30 The finals stretch through Central Park. I’ve given up on a good time. Now, I’m just trying to have a good time. I waddle along, knowing a PR is well out of sight. I high five the kids, I remember how lucky I am to be here at all, I thank my stars that I’m not being carted off the course by the medics.

It’s a cliché that a marathon is made up of the stories of thousands of individual runners. But as it is with most clichés, it’s also true.

In the final miles of a marathon, everyone is stripped to the bone.

Whether you’re finishing in three hours or five, you’re gutting it out after mile 22.

It’s an incredible thing to be part of, for runners and spectators alike. Runners are putting their hearts and bodies out there on the pavement. Spectators lining the course can see exactly how much you’re hurting and exactly how badly you want it. They cheer you on. They tell you you’re looking good when you look like shit. They tell you to push harder when you can’t do anymore. No other sporting event is like this – where the athlete is the neighbor of the spectator, where one weekend you’re the watched, and the next, the watcher. We forget how special this is, but we shouldn’t.

As the popularity of marathons has grown, there’s been the predictable backlash of people sick of hearing about marathons and marathoners. But you know what? At the end of the day, it’s an incredible thing to run a marathon and its an incredible thing to watch one — especially in those last couple of miles and especially in New York.

2:30 PM The finish comes into view and I’m just glad to be done. 4:23:13 will be my official time. Not my worst marathon, but also certainly not my best. They’ll be plenty of time for reflection in the days to come. Now, I just want to get the forced march out of the park done and give E and the little dude some hugs. I finally make it to the PPTC reunion school where I’m greeted with applause. Of the many things I’ll take away from this day, one is a new appreciation for what a great group of people make up PPTC.

I finally find E and L in the playground next to the school.

L runs up to me and shouts “Daddy, run!”

Yes I do, little man. Not always well, or fast, but I run. And I love it.

Daddy, run!

Daddy, run!

*Or thereabouts.

** And one I’ll go into in a subsequent post.

Not enough information in the last 1500 words? You can see my strava data here.

Training Totals for the Week Ending 9.27.2015


Run Miles for the week: 43 in 7:07:44
Run Miles for the year: 1140.9
Projected total run miles for the year: 1536.6
Weekly/Daily Average to reach 2k miles 65.1/9.3
Run Streak: 0
Did I hit every session of 18/55? N
What did I miss? 1 easy run
Runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Days until I beat my old run streak: n/a
Prospect Park loops for the week: 7
Prospect Park loops for the year: 91
Bike Miles for the Week: 0
Bike Miles for the Year: 457.9
Projected total bike miles for the year: 616.7
Weekly/Daily average to reach 2k bike miles: 116/16.6
Swim Meters for the Week 1750
Swim Meters for the Year 8200
Body Weight Work: 0
Total Exercise Time: ~7:00:00
Average Weight: 175
Books Finished: 0
Books by Women: 0
Total Books for the Year: 41
Total Books by Women: 20
Percentage of total books by women: 48.78
Books per week to reach 52 ~.76



Notes: Another solid week of running. Feeling pretty good about this training cycle. If I can stay healthy through the next six weeks, this should (hopefully!) go well.  

18 Weeks Out

So here I am, 18 weeks out from the New York City Marathon (NYCM) and its time to make a decision regarding my training. Will I shoot for the moon again, or take a more earth bound course? Mega miles, or miles and speed? The eternal debate in Sean’s world of running, and one I want to resolve, at least for this training cycle, today.


Here’s the state of play: Generally, I feel good. My body feels recovered from the Vermont shit show. I’ve gotten in some ok mileage. Not everything I hoped for, but not abysmal, either. I’m coming into this cycle in ok shape and uninjured, which is better than I can say for any other training cycle.


Now it’s decision time.


When I initially started roughing out my training plan for New York, I was hoping to use the Pftizinger 55-70 plan. But as time got closer, it has become apparent that running that kind of mileage just wasn’t realistic based on both my base fitness and overbooked life. So, reluctantly, I’ve decided to scale things back to the more reasonable, but still ambitious, up to 55 Pfitzinger plan. That plan starts this week. Some might say this is still too much (SMT?) but if Vermont taught me anything, its that I need more miles to run the type of marathon I want to run. Going with the up to 55 program should, hopefully, allow me to have enough recovery time to some some real speed work without risking injury.


Of course, NYCM isn’t my only event of the year. In between now and then I have the New York City Triathlon, and the Presidential Traverse, both of which are pretty daunting events of their own. Yet both are certainly open acts to the main event – a sub four hour marathon come November. I’ll be working in some specific work outs for those events as well, including biking, swimming and interminable stair climbing, but NYC is the goal, and running is the name of the game.


Curious to see how this works out? I will of course be tracking it all in the weekly totals posts. Stay tuned for updates on how many miles I’ve run and how many books I’ve read. You’ll be riveted, I’m sure.

This Years Main Events

Last night, it became official – I’m running the New York Marathon in November. And with that, my racing schedule for the year is pretty much set. More for my own amusement than anything else, here’s what my endurance year is looking like — goals are in order of importance (yes, sometimes finishing is more important than having fun):

Date Event Goal
May 16 Brooklyn Half-Marathon A: Enjoy myself

B: See what the legs have for Vermont two weeks later


D: sub 1:45

May 24 Vermont City Marathon A: PR

B: Sub 4

July 19 New York City Triathlon A: Relearn how to do triathlons


C: Sub 3:00

Late August Presidential Traverse A: Finish

B: Have fun

November 1 New York City Marathon A: PR

B: Sub 3:45


I’ll surely add some 5ks and 10ks here and there, and I’m thinking about doing an open water race in June, but these are the goal events. I’ve never had this many goal races in a single year. It’s a little intimidating, but also very exciting.

So far, I’m happy with how the training for Vermont is going. I’m running better than I have in a long time and I’m excited to see what this aging body can do. If I can stay healthy, this is going to be a hell of a year.

Friday Inspiration – Gutting it Out

For weeks now, people have been talking about Meb Keflezighi gutting it out in the final miles of the New York Marathon and crossing the line with local Staten Island runner Mike Cassidy.

Meb and Mike bringing it home

If you read this blog, you probably already know this story – Meb has battled injuries all fall and wasn’t a hundred percent coming into this race.  In the latter miles, he fell off the pace and seriously considered dropping.  But, being a fucking bad ass, he stuck with it, eventually meeting up with sub-elite runner Mike Cassidy.  The two of them brought it home, trading the work at the front, and crossing the finishing line hand in hand.

Here’s Meb describing what happened.

And here’s Mike Cassidy’s article on the “time of his life”.

Its a powerful story and something that can only happen in running.  In no other sport do the world’s best run with the work-a-day hobbyist.  In no other sport can a amateur get so close to a pro.  Its one of the many reasons why, while I am struggling with my running these days, I’ll also love this sport, I’ll always deeply admire Keflezighi and I’ll always love the New York Marathon. 

Some Thoughts on This Years New York City Marathon

So it looks like the New York Marathon is on.  I am of two minds about this.  I love the New York Marathon, more than a race it is a celebration of New York with tens of thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators.  If I’m not running it, I always go out and watch. This year, the debate about whether or not the race should go on is vigorous, its on the front page of the New York Times and its clogging up my running clubs listserv.  For what its worth (which is nothing) I think the race should go on, but I can understand why others feel differently.

In times of trouble, as in the months after September 11th, the New York City Marathon has been a statement that New York is unstoppable, that life goes on no matter what.  But in 2001, the race was almost a full two months after 9/11.  This year, the race will be happening less than a week after the most destructive natural disaster in New York history.  Thousands of New Yorkers will surely be without power, thousands more will be struggling to get to work.  If I was them, I imagine I’d be pretty pissed to see resources going to a footrace when they could be going to getting the lights turned back on.

Still Con Ed doesn’t marshal marathons, and the New York Road Runners Club can’t drain the water from the subway stations.*  The race is a testament to perseverance, both for those who run it and for New York as whole.  Holding the race shows that life is moving on, that we are rebuilding, that nothing stops New York.  That is why, though I understand the anger many are feeling about the decision to go forward, I’m glad the race is happening.  I hope Meb wins, and that he raises a FDNY flag at the finish.

The finish line in Central Park

On Sunday I’ll be thinking of the communities struggling to rebuild after the storm, but I’ll also be on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn like I am every year, cheering on the runners.  Hope to see you there.

* The NYPD generally plays a huge roll at the marathon, but this year they’re a little busy.  My understanding is their role will be slightly less than in previous years.  We’ll see.