I qualified for Boston!!

I still can’t believe it!! Sunday I ran a 3:28 Boston qualifying time!! I’m absolutely over the moon.

The days leading up to the race

I was definitely questioning my ability to do this. I thought back that just 2.5 years ago I ran a 2:11 half marathon, that’s not that long ago. I had set the goal of qualifying for Boston after I became a citizen in 2020. At that time my fastest marathon was a 4:12. Qualifying for Boston seemed impossible. But I had improved so much!! In February I ran a 3:41 marathon while sick. Knocking 12 minutes off my time shouldn’t be so hard right?? But I was doubting hard. I couldn’t fathom 26 times 8 min miles. I trained all throughout the summer and had a hard time keeping this pace for 7 miles in the Alabama heat and humidity. Trust the training, I tried to tell myself. The last week I made sure and rested as much as I could and ate tons of carbs. The day before I ate a bagel for breakfast, ran 2 sloooowwww miles on the treadmill, then ate a banana, a jacks bacon egg and cheese biscuit, then a whole turkey sandwich with a baguette, drank a Gatorade and 3 pizza slices for dinner. From 3pm on a laid in bed. I came up with a for sure game plan. 8 min miles all the way, even paced!

Race Day

As I got up I looked at my memories on Facebook. Wow! On this day 2 years ago I was in Boston, at the finish line, promising myself I would cross this line one day as a race participant.

I got up, made some coffee and a bagel and sat down to eat. I had practiced this, I knew I would use the bathroom in about 15 minutes. To me, this is CRUCIAL! But I couldn’t go. I started getting nervous. I didn’t have any time to spare to use the bathroom mid race.. I’m not one of those who can squat and go.. I need a newspaper and a lot of time lol. Charlie took me to the race and said it would be okay, we talked about there being a lot of woods on the course, I could sneak off anywhere. At the race I stood in line twice for the Portapotties, both times no luck. I barely made it back to the start line, 30 seconds to spare. Kissed Charlie and Frank and ran to the start.

Off we went, in the dark. I was in the front pack! This is new. As I saw people starting to engage in conversation, I turned up my music, focus Sam! I felt something hit my leg, a big bug I thought… then I felt something slipping from my pocket. Oh no! My gels were falling out. I counted.. I lost 2, that is not good. I immediately thought about the book I read from Matt Fitzgerald, “the come back quotient.” I told myself I would use Gatorade to make up for the lost gels. I should be able to get the same amount of calories. After all, that’s why I practiced with Gatorade during training. I knew my stomach could handle it.

First 2 miles were in the 7’s, oof that’s fast! There were 2 guys running in front of me. I can’t see good in the dark and was glad they knew where we were going. Until they stopped… they turned and asked if I knew where we were going… no! I did not. The pacer and group came up behind us and the pacer thought we’d turn right? We ended up added about a quarter mile to the race. Everyone was down about it and complaining about the race. I wanted to as well, but I knew this would ruin the race, I can’t get negative now! I turned up my music and thought again about the book. I can still do this! I thought, if I run 7:50 miles for the rest of the race I should definitely make it. I started focusing on the absolutely gorgeous sunrise and ran out in front of the group. Every now and then looking behind me to make sure I was still going the right way.

At this point we were at mile 5, still not having seen 1 aid station. When I finally saw one I drank every bit of water out of the cup, since I didn’t know when I’d spot the next one. When I saw the next stop, the cups had not yet been filled with drinks. They were empty. I literally stood still during the race to look in them since no one was there.

This part of the race was so beautiful, through the woods, alongside the water. The leaves on the trees were changing colors and there were bright yellow and reds everywhere. It was so peaceful. At 14.5 miles was a turnaround point. There was a guy there with a bunch of bottles of water. He gave me one and said just return it when you get back here. I drank as much as I knew I could stomach and thanked him loudly! How nice!! At this point I kept seeing all the people that were on their way to the turnaround point. Everyone was smiling and giving thumbs up, all supporting each other, knowing everyone is doing the very best they can on this day.

At mile 20 I knew it was about to get really hard. I could feel my hips locking up, and a twinge on my hamstrings and quads with each up and down of this hilly course. I did more math this race than the duration of high school. Each mile I calculated if I was still able to make 3:30. I kept ending on 3:28. Perfect! A little buffer if I slow down the last miles. But I didn’t slow down, I forced my body, with everything I had to keep moving.

Mile 25! One more freaking mile! I got this. But wow! What a challenge, this mile had a little over a 1000 feet incline. It was my slowest mile, dropping to an 8:24. I got so nervous that I just sprinted at 6 minute mile pace to make sure I could still get under 3:30. I turned a corner and an elderly couple were looking up trying to cross, I yelled “EXCUSE ME!!” At the top of my lungs. Thank goodness they stopped in their tracks and I sprinted passed them. Around the corner there was a huge crowd, all cheering. The announcement was made that I qualified for Boston!! I was going so fast down the hill across the finish I couldn’t even spot Charlie and Frank. But they immediately met me after. I freaking did it was all I could think! This, that seemed such an out of reach goal just 2 year ago.

Aftermath

We took off to the hotel to shower, I’d have just enough time before check out. When we got there, Charlie told me to look in the closet. I opened the door and there it was, a t shirt with “Boston Qualified” on it!!! I couldn’t believe he bought that and snuck it with him on the trip. Messages from friends and family kept coming in and my heart felt overwhelmed with all the love and support from everyone. What an amazing experience!!

Support

I could not have done this without Charlie. To have him there to go to bed on a Saturday at 8pm just because I have a long run the next day. And be so supportive of my constant need of new running shoes. And all the calf and foot massages! He made sure everything went smoothly. A celebration key lime pie, and random chocolates, are a runners dream. Even after the race he had gotten me breakfast to eat after my shower. So many little things add up to a huge support

You can do this too!!

If you’re 10 pages in on your google search right now and landed on this blog, searching for a way to qualify for Boston. I’m telling you, YOU CAN DO THIS! I looked everywhere to find people who came from an almost 5 hour marathon like me, who had progressed to a BQ time. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to message me on here or instagram.

Faster than ever!

Breaking 4 hours in the marathon at the end of January got me even more excited and determined that I can and will qualify for the Boston marathon. During my week off I purchased “Faster Road Running” by Pete Pfitzinger. Since the plans in his “Advanced Marathoning” book worked so well, I decided to stick with what works. Having a couple 5k’s on the calendar I figured I’d start there. I was on the training week where there was supposed to be a practice 5k and ran one in Frisco, Texas with my best friends Stephanie and Angel.

To my surprise I ran a 22:05 for this 5k!!! tying my PR from 2008!!! I couldn’t believe it! And still am questioning, since the course was short according to my watch. But I will take it! Since the beginning of this training block I’ve been averaging about 45-50 miles per week and doing 1 workout per week with intervals and 1 with 100 meter strides. The rest of the mileage I take it pretty easy, except for a general aerobic run, where I run a little bit slower than tempo pace, but not too fast to get tired. For me, that is about a 8:45-9 min mile pace.

This past weekend I decided to sign up for a 10 mile race close to home, in Mooresville, Alabama. It was the prettiest little town! The post office there is the oldest post office still in use in Alabama, dating back to the 1800’s. I went into this race thinking that since I almost beat my 2008 5K PR the week before, maybe I could break my 2008 10 mile PR? I didn’t put too much thought into it, since I didn’t tell anyone about the race, and honestly didn’t think I could do it.

I warmed up for a mile and got to the wave start. My starting group had all (fast looking) men and one other woman. I immediately stayed back with the other woman, but noticed our pace was 8:30.. this would not get me to break my 1:20:30 record. I picked it up to an 8 min mile pace and stuck with the group of men. This made me nervous, cause there’s no way I could keep up with these guys right? The pace felt easy, but that has tricked me before. I decided if I’d still feel this good at mile 5, I would push the pace to a 7:55 from there to finish. From mile 2 to 3, my watch pinged a mile about 2 minutes before the 3 mile marker. I immediately knew with this 2 min error, I had no change for a PR. I should just relax and enjoy this pretty route. But then I thought.. well, I feel great, so lets pick up the pace instead, maybe I can still do it. I picked up the pace to run in the 7:40s. By mile 4 the course had corrected. (my guess the wind blew over the mile marker and someone just put it back where it ended up) I was feeling great still, so kept my pace. By mile 8 I felt like I was flying, my legs were moving fast and I still didn’t feel like I couldn’t breathe. The last mile I picked it up to 7:20 pace. That got me! but who cares, I was almost there. I flew (what I felt like) through the finish line with a new shiny PR of 1:17:30!!!

None of my miles even hit 8 minutes! I cannot explain how good it feels to see my hard work over the past year pay off. It has taken 1 year and 3 months of consistency and discipline to see progress I want to see. I’m so excited to see how much faster I can get.