The Breaking B.Q. Project: The Final Results Update
Editor’s Note: This year, Minneapolis Running followed the journey of five runners striving for a 2018 or 2019 B.Q. We covered their training, tracked their progress, and cheered them into the finish line with the hopes of lining up in Hopkinton next spring. We call it the “Breaking B.Q. Project.”
A Final Update on The Breaking B.Q. Project
We started the Breaking B.Q. Project back in March with the hopes of learning more about the mysterious process of breaking the Boston Marathon qualifying barrier. We tracked Eddie, Lauren D., and Rachel on their quests for a B.Q. at Grandma’s Marathon and revealed their results at the end of June. Later, this summer, we followed along a day of training with Lauren B. and read how she was preparing for the Last Chance to B.Q.2 Marathon in Fox City, Illinois on September 9th. Then, we learned some surprising news – we would have one more Breaking B.Q. participant in Fox City, our very own Nathan Freeburg, owner and creator of Minneapolis Running!
You may remember Nathan’s previous B.Q. attempts when he wrote about them in 2014 and 2016. Running the Boston Marathon has been a big goal for Nathan for a long time, but after recently adding two new members to his family, he knew his goal would get a lot more audacious. Nathan was quiet about his goals at first, especially after his last documented experience, but as I followed his training all summer, he seemed fit, excited, and prepared to blow his goals out of the water. (I was blown away by some of his marathon pace workouts, look for more details about his training and experience soon!)
We all know that achieving a big goal is the combination of the right training, the right day, and if we’re being real, a little bit of luck. So how did race day go? I spoke with Lauren B. and Nathan to find out!
Two B.Q. Attempts at the Last Chance to B.Q.2 Marathon
We’re dying to know: what was your result at the Last Chance to B.Q.?
Nathan: Not great. I think my finish time was 3:27. I was hoping for a 3:06 – 3:07, to qualify me under the 3:10 mark.
Lauren B.: At the Last Chance to B.Q. race, I finished pretty strong. I did qualify for Boston(!) but just barely, with a 3:34:19. (I needed a 3:35.) This wasn’t my first marathon but it was my first attempt at qualifying for Boston so I’m really proud that I made it! It was also a ~6:30 PR for me.
How prepared were you feeling to attempt the B.Q. on race day?
Nathan: I felt very prepared. My training runs all would have led me to believe I could hit this audacious goal. Looking back, I could have run more miles or done longer tempo runs, but I also know that given my life situation (kids, job, travel, etc), I don’t know how realistic it would have been to train “harder.”
Lauren B.: I was prepared to run a better time than I ended up with at the end of the day. My training went as well as someone could ask for during a marathon cycle.
Briefly, take us through race day. What went well? What didn’t?
Nathan: It seems that everything besides my running went well. The course and weather were perfect. My pre-race rest and nutrition seemed to be as good as ever. On race day, I felt so nervous that by the time the gun went off, my legs were wobbly and rubbery. Through 10K, I felt great. Right on pace, and maybe even a few seconds under. By about mile 10, I was panicking, feeling there was no way I could run this pace for much longer. By the halfway mark, I knew I was in trouble, and by mile 15, I sort of resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to do it. I backed way off the pace and just made it about finishing.
Lauren B.: Race day is a little bit of a blur. The race started at 6:30 a.m. so we arrived early, dropped off my “elite” water bottle (basically, I taped GUs to it so I wouldn’t have to carry them) and got in the porta potty line. I made it to the start with enough time to feel settled and off we went. I was very careful not to start off too fast and overall followed my pacing/hydration/fueling plan exactly as planned. However, my Garmin kept losing signal and I spent a decent amount of time trying to “run down” my pace to the right split time. At the end of the day, I think that’s what caused me to slow down at the end and miss my overall time goal. Regardless, I’m super lucky to have qualified at all on my first attempt!
Having successfully achieved your Boston Marathon Qualifying time, what advice do you have for other runners aiming to achieve the same goal?
Lauren B.: That’s a great question. I think I would have to say consistency is key. You might have setbacks or a training cycle that doesn’t feel perfect, but as long as you continue to move forward and don’t give up you can achieve your goals!
What have you gained from this experience (not only participating in the project but in training and attempting a big goal?)
Nathan: The marathon is not my race. Or rather, I’m not mentally strong when it comes to running fast for 26.2 miles. I also think I’ve put so much pressure on myself, and perhaps attached an unhealthy amount of self-worth to achieving this goal, that I choke under the pressure of it.
Lauren B.: A few things that I gained from this experience are: I am more consistent with strength training. I learned that a big goal doesn’t have to be as intimidating as I thought. I have an amazing support system
What’s next for you?
Nathan: I’m not sure. I have a few ideas, but for the next week or two, I’m just going to be a little lazy. One thing I’d like to do is run all the other race distances at my B.Q. equivalent time, and get really good at that. This means a 1:31:16 half marathon, a 41:12 10K, and a 19:52 5K. Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll go after the 40-44 BQ time…but we’ll see!
Lauren B.: I’ll have a few weeks of down time, run the TC 10 mile for fun, and then work on building a solid base to work up to a spring race. Marathon? Half marathon? TBD! I’m sure I’ll go for another Boston qualifier next year at some point.
Your Big Audacious Goals
On behalf of the entire Minneapolis Running community, I’d like to thank Eddie, Lauren D., Rachel, Lauren B., and Nathan for participating in our project and sharing with us the highs and lows of shooting for a big audacious goal. We hope you have learned something from their experiences, whether it be about training, goal setting, or yes, even disappointment.
What are your big audacious goals? How can you challenge yourself to work toward them?