An Update from the Breaking B.Q. Project
Editor’s Note: This year, Minneapolis Running will be following the journey of five runners striving for a 2018 or 2019 B.Q. We’ll cover their training, track their progress, and cheer them into the finish line with the hopes of lining up in Hopkinton next spring. We call it the “Breaking B.Q. Project.”
An Update on the Breaking B.Q. Project
We started the Breaking B.Q. Project about two months ago with the hopes of learning more about the mysterious process of breaking the Boston Marathon qualifying barrier. We drew our inspiration from the Nike Breaking2 Project, which, as we watched earlier this month, expanded the limits of the human body and put on quite a show! (Eliud Kipchoge went on to run 2:00:25!) For our own project, we hope to inspire more runners to remove limits from their minds and training and to set big audacious goals.
The last time we heard from our five Breaking B.Q. Project participants, several were gearing up for Grandma’s Marathon while others were focusing on baseline fitness. We followed along a day of training with both Eddie and Lauren D. and learned more about the dedication and sacrifice required to reach such a big goal. But where are they now? We spoke with all five participants to find out!
May Training Update
What does your current training look like?
Eddie: Current training is at it’s peak. I am running about 60 to 65 miles a week at the moment with two intensive workouts each week. This week, for example, was mile repeats and then a fartlek run.
Lauren D.: I am currently peaking for Grandma’s marathon. I’m at 60-65 mi weeks right now, and my hard workouts have made a distinct shift from short and fast to longer tempo runs. I will start my taper on Memorial Day!
Kari: I’m about 2 weeks post completing the Eau Claire marathon (not my goal race for the year), and so I am finishing up a reverse taper and picking miles back up to start my Chicago Marathon training cycle. Chicago is still about 20 weeks out, so I’m in between training cycles. Eau Claire didn’t go 100% as planned due to a chest cold I picked up during [the] taper, BUT the great news is my legs felt great during AND after the race. Eau Claire puts on a very nice run – highly recommended!
Rachel: My training was reaching its peak (around 55 miles per week) when I strained my quad. I had tight hips after a long run and did too deep of a stretch and pushed through pain. Pro tip – don’t do that! It turns out I severely strained my quad and this resulted in a tiny tear. I reduced my mileage to around 30 miles for a week and when that didn’t clear it up, I called in the experts. I have taken a full week off and I am going to PT every other day (with a lot of PT on my own!). It is feeling a lot better and so I hope to get in one or two more weeks of quality training before tapering.
Lauren B.: My training is hovering between 30 and 40 miles a week. I generally have 2 workout days that are a tempo/longer interval (think 1000 or 800 meter repeats) and then shorter intervals (100-400 meter repeats), 1 or 2 days of recovery runs, 1 or 2 days of cross training (I road bike!), and a long run.
How has training been going?
Eddie: The training has been going very well. I am actually worried it is going too well! I have one nagging muscle strain in my groin but that has improved after a visit to The Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis and I was given some physio and stretches to complete. I was worried it was a hernia but thankfully it was not. I ran a huge PR at the Get In Gear Half which was on the plan as my tune up race.
Lauren D.: I think this has been my best training cycle to date. I am peaking at the lowest mileage I have in 2 years, but I am feeling very good about it. I just completed a 19-mile tempo workout this last weekend that was my best workout of this cycle – 1-mile warm up, 12-miles at my goal marathon pace, 1-mile easy, 3-mile progression, 1-mile cool down. I was shooting for an 8:00 pace (on target for a 3:30 marathon) during the 12-mile tempo, and almost all of my mile splits were 7:20-7:50 pace. During the progression, my final split was 7:17. The best part is that my body did this with ease – it didn’t even feel difficult. Such a huge confidence booster!
Rachel: Before my set-back, training was going well. I was able to reach all of my mileage goals and paces in my workouts (not that it was easy!)
Lauren B.: I have been having a really great spring so far! I ran my first 10K and finished as the first overall female on a course that was described as “challenging” by the race organizers. I still have an opportunity to do better with strength training – I’m confident it’s going to make a huge difference for me.
If you’re getting ready for Grandma’s, how are you feeling about the race? How are you feeling about your B.Q. attempt?
Lauren D.: I’m feeling ready and confident. The only thing I am anxious about is race day weather – I know Grandma’s was blazing hot last year and heat/humidity are my running kryptonite. But it’s the only variable that is out of my control – I know that the rest of my training has been meticulous and I have put forth my best effort.
Rachel: I am trying to have a positive outlook on Grandma’s. My quad setback was majorly discouraging, but I am trying to convince myself that my training up until then went well and that my time off won’t hurt me too much. And, in my reasoning, it is better to be able to arrive at the start line healthy than to not make it at all. I’m not sure if my B.Q. will happen, but I am going to do my best.
What is an unexpected obstacle that has come up in training?
Eddie: The biggest obstacle has been landing a new job. The job is great but I have a heavy travel schedule that has really taken it out of me both in terms of mental mindset and physical energy.
Lauren D.: Nebraska has turned very hot in the month of May – we are seeing several days with temperatures > 90 degrees already. Running in 93 degrees is tough in the middle of the summer, but when your body hasn’t adjusted to heat in early Spring it is awful. I have had to adjust some workouts because of this and my easy runs have been even slower than normal. I am not fretting about it too much, because I know that I am still putting in the work. Another (slightly) unexpected obstacle has been shoes. Throughout this training cycle I have been going through a pair of running shoes every 1-1.5 months! So much money spent on shoes!
Rachel: The unexpected obstacle was definitely my quad strain. I have never had a muscular injury in my life! Every injury has been bone-related, so this has been frustrating. Especially because it resulted from me not listening to my body.
Lauren B.: I got married a few weeks ago and had thought I would run all through the week of the wedding and on the honeymoon. That turned out not to be the case but I’m back on track now!!
What do you hope to accomplish in the coming training weeks?
Eddie: The next coming weeks I want to follow my plan which has one more 20-mile run and several 15-18 mile runs. I also plan to get in the necessary mileage for each week.
Lauren D.: I have about 1.5 weeks left of peak training and my focus is just on finishing [the cycle] strong. I have been very consistent and focused and I am not about to give up now, despite the fatigue of marathon training setting in. From January-April I have been telling myself to “put your head down and get the work done.” Throughout May (& June), I’ve been telling myself that its time to pick your head up and think about/visualize race day. After I am done peaking, I will focus on my taper. I have cut down alcohol intake for the month of May to one day a week, then for the month of June (basically my entire taper) I will cut it out completely to help my body to rest and repair. Finally, I have already been thinking about my race week nutrition and what meals I plan to cook to up my carb intake leading up to the race. I even made my restaurant reservation in Duluth for my pre-race dinner back in March!
Kari: In the next week or so I hope to narrow down on a 16 or 18 week plan with higher milage than I’ve done previously and I’m debating paying for a coach for the first time. As far as training races go I’ve got the City of Lakes Half Marathon penciled in and I’m sure I’ll pick up some other races along the way.
Rachel: I am hoping to get in a couple of good workouts and long runs to give me some confidence back. Then taper and focus on the race.
Lauren B.: In the coming training weeks I’m going to work super hard to improve my consistency with weight training, to increase my long runs to 18-20 miles by the end of June, and to continue to work on speed. I also have a goal race on Memorial Day, the Brian Kraft 5K, where I am hoping to PR!
How has being a part of the Breaking B.Q. Project altered your training?
Eddie: The Breaking B.Q. Project has been extra motivation. My team mates from Mill City have been enjoying the articles and it has given me an extra boost to achieve the unimaginable 9 months ago.
Lauren D.: To be honest, it has not altered my training at all. I had already boldly put out my B.Q. goal for the world to see and before this project I was working toward it with the same intensity that I am now. I am, however, happy to share my story in hopes that another average runner will realize that with enough commitment, work, planning, and effort, they can achieve their goals, too. I have gone from a 4:11 marathoner to a 3:34 marathoner and hopefully in June I will run a sub 3:30. Not everyone will be able to run fast enough to B.Q. – that’s what makes it Boston and that’s why the goal is so appealing! But, I think you really do yourself an injustice when you believe you could never run that fast or achieve a goal that seems out of reach without truly testing your abilities. After all, how will you ever know your own limitations unless you REALLY try?
Kari: Being part of the Breaking B.Q. Project has definitely been an internal motivator for me. I haven’t shared with very many people my very public goal, but knowing it’s out there in print drives me forward. Or at the very least, it tells me to put down the second donut and add a few miles to my run.
Rachel: Putting this goal into the atmosphere has been scary. With this injury, I feel that I am letting more people down than just me (or it will just be embarrassing to fall short on the day of the race). But it has also held me accountable to the little things. It helps to see that there are other people in the community who are trying to do brave things.
Lauren B.: Being part of the Breaking B.Q. Project has made me more cognizant of my consistency and I anticipate, as I get closer to my fall marathon, it will provide me additional motivation to keep getting it done when things get tough!
What’s Next for the Breaking B.Q. Project?
Eddie, Lauren D., and Rachel will prepare to line up at Grandma’s Marathon on June 17th in Duluth, Minnesota. Stay tuned to our website and social media accounts for updates on the training and racing of all of our Breaking B.Q. participants. We can’t wait to follow their progress with you!