An Introduction to The Breaking B.Q. Project
The Boston Marathon. It’s the most iconic marathon in the country, and arguably one of the most iconic marathons in the entire world. Thousands of runners vie for their shot to run this classic April race, but not all those who try will make it. The elusive Boston Qualifying time goal is one held by many but achieved by far less. 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.”
Related: The Nike Breaking 2 Project
What is the Breaking B.Q. Project?
The Breaking B.Q. Project will follow the training and racing of five Midwest runners who are training to qualify for the Boston Marathon this year. Our participants are: Eddie of Minneapolis, MN who will shoot for his B.Q. at Grandma’s Marathon (June 17), Lauren D. of Lincoln, NE, who will shoot for her her B.Q. at Grandma’s Marathon, Rachel of Iowa City, IA who will shoot for her B.Q. at Grandma’s Marathon, Kari of Andover, MN who will shoot for her B.Q. at the Chicago Marathon (Oct. 8), and Lauren B. of Bloomington, MN, who will shoot for her B.Q. at the Last Chance to B.Q.2 Marathon in Fox Valley, Illinois (Sept. 9).
Eddie, Lauren D., Rachel, Kari, and Lauren B. are ordinary runners, like you or I, who have made significant progress in the marathon and who believe that they can accomplish their goals. This isn’t to suggest that anyone who tries [to B.Q.] will make it, but that as a runner, you’re probably faster and stronger than you think. (We firmly believe that all runners should set big, audacious goals for this reason!) Each runner will attempt to hit their Boston Qualifying time according to their age and gender standards in a 2017 spring or fall marathon.
About the Breaking B.Q. Project Participants
We spoke with each of our Breaking B.Q. participants to learn more about their running history, training adaptations, and goals.
Share your brief running history:
Eddie: In June of 2014, following a frank conversation with my mother, I realized I needed to get in shape. The next day, I decided to do something about it and go for a run. I couldn’t run a mile, hell, I don’t think I could run a quarter of a mile. But there is such a thing as the runner’s high! I wasn’t sure what I was experiencing, but it felt good, so I kept running and started to eat a little better. In the space of 4 months, I lost around 50 lbs and felt superb. A friend and colleague at work encouraged me, and, after a while, convinced me to run a half marathon (2014 Monster Dash Half). From there I ran a few half marathons in 2015, had fun, got injured, and learned more about running. In 2016 Jeff at Mill City Running convinced me to join the race team. I ran the Twin Cities Marathon in 3:31 and was inspired to shoot for a B.Q.
Lauren D.: I have been a lifelong athlete and picked up running in graduate school to continue competing in something. I have stuck with running ever since then, although have gotten a bit more serious about it in the last four years or so after I ran my first marathon.
Rachel: I started running in high school after I realized I liked the warm-up for volleyball better than volleyball itself. I was an average runner (not setting any records), but I really loved it. I got the amazing opportunity to run for Hamline University in St. Paul. Coach Schmaedeke was the best coach I had ever had, and though I was plagued with injuries (including a hip fracture) that sidelined me a lot, I always felt like I belonged. I ran my first marathon the summer after graduating college with my best friend and have continued running for fun while I am working on my Ph.D. at the University of Iowa.
Kari: I was an athletic youth, but NEVER a runner. I started running after my first daughter was born about 13 years ago as a way to try and lose the baby weight. I never signed up for a race until after my son was born in 2006, and at that point, I jumped right in and ran the TC 10 Mile with some coworkers and got hooked. I spent the next several years running anything from 5Ks to half marathons, but it took quite some time to make the leap to the marathon. I just couldn’t imagine running that half marathon and then turning around and running back to the starting line! I ran my first marathon (Twin Cities) in 2011 and have run 6 total (TCM 4x, Minneapolis Marathon, and Lake Wobegon).
Lauren B.: I ran a bit off and on between 2007 and 2011 but was super inconsistent. I’d pick it up, have an ache and then stop for months. For example, I ran a half marathon in the fall of 2013 by training only 1 day a week. (Super poor choice!)
In April of 2014, I decided I wanted to complete a full marathon before I turned 30. I chose the 2014 SOMO Marathon in Key West with the mindset that we’d at least have a great vacation if I became injured during my training. I trained and “raced” using the Galloway run-walk technique but, if I’m honest, I still failed to run consistently during my training. Somehow, despite my inconsistencies, I was hooked. For me, it’s so many things. The quiet time during a long run, being outside, the sense of accomplishment, the continual challenge to push yourself to see what you can achieve….I could go on.
After I finished my first marathon, I thought “I can totally do better than this” and quickly found that the 2015 Med City Marathon was, conveniently, on my 30th birthday in Rochester, MN. For this second marathon, my goal was to run the whole darn thing. I ended up knocking over an hour off my time (4:23:19) and was ready for a bigger goal.
Why did you decide that this was the year to go for Boston?
Eddie: While I trained for Twin Cities, I didn’t really follow a plan or do much speed work and still felt pretty good at the finish. I figured that if I worked hard on base-building during the winter I could shave 20 minutes off of my time, which would also get me a B.Q. I also met a coach through work who has a robust training program that I have been following.
Lauren: After a few average marathons, I upped my commitment to my training for Grandma’s Marathon in 2015 ever so slightly and was finally able to break the 4:00-hour mark. That very day, I decided to go for Boston. Since then I have been chipping away at my time, and currently have a 46-second B.Q. that I earned at the Twin Cities Marathon in 2016. I think this will be my year because I have been ridiculously committed and consistent with my training, and I only have a few more minutes to chip away to squeak into Boston (and actually get into the race).
Rachel: I got close-ish to qualifying for Boston 2 years ago at the Minneapolis Marathon where I ran a time of 3:39 (I needed a 3:35). I thought I’d attempt another B.Q. last year, but Grandma’s was so hot that my goal quickly turned into finishing. This year I am hoping my training goes well and that the weather is cool!
Kari: I’m a pretty competitive person, so running appeals to me because I can compete with myself, always striving for that new PR (of course that gets harder as you get older!). My B.Q .time has always seemed out of reach, but for the 2019 window (assuming nothing changes) my qualifying time will go up to 3:45, which no longer seems unfathomable. My PR is 3:47:30 at Minneapolis Marathon in 2015 and I think I can get back to that – or at least I hope! This year is ‘the year’ because I think I’ll have the time this summer to devote to more training miles, and I think Chicago is a prime location for a PR. I can’t say it’s my ‘one and only’ shot, but I think it’s my first real chance at getting the time that I need.
Lauren B.: I had a tough running year in 2016 because of a couple of significant injuries. I was diagnosed with dual stress reactions on my femurs in February, just 3 weeks before my March marathon. Once I was able to start running again I ended up with what felt like a never-ending hip flexor injury for the majority of the summer. Despite all of that, I was in pretty decent shape by the fall so I decided that 2017 was going to be MY year and that a B.Q. was part of it.
Share a little bit about what you’re doing differently in your training:
(Note: in the coming weeks and months we will expand on the different training methods of each runner.)
Eddie: I’m on the “Barrett Plan,” as I call it, which consists of a robust base. I’m now averaging 45-55 mile weeks, at least one session of speed work, plus a fartlek run each week. On longer runs, I have been varying the pace and completing progression runs. This has helped a lot; I am seeing significant improvement with still 3 months to go until race day. I have a few test races coming up, including the Get in Gear half marathon. I am extremely conscious of diet and have noticed some weight loss since ramping up the miles and expect to lose a few more pounds before Grandma’s. I also plan to reduce alcohol intake almost completely as we get closer to the race.
Lauren D.: The changes I made to get to Boston were actually made in June of 2015 when I decided I had a shot at getting a B.Q. I have upped my mileage, added speedwork, and really focused on my diet. I have also hired a coach and joined a running team, which have been very positive experiences. More recently, I have really mastered listening to my body to determine what my recovery run effort should be. (In other words, I stopped looking at my watch on slower runs!)
The biggest change I made that I think will get me to Boston is consistency. I certainly take off a decent chunk of time from running after a race to recover, but I am always consistently running and never completely rebuilding my fitness from ground zero. I knew I would not be the type of runner who would decide to “get serious” and all of a sudden have magic happen and shave 30+ minutes off my PR, so instead I committed to the long haul. I think it is paying off, and I think that short of the unpredictable happening (injury, illness, horrible race day weather, race day digestion issues, etc.) this is my year. I am going to do it!
Rachel: I am doing a couple of things differently this time around. First and foremost, I am trying to eat enough. I have struggled with eating (as many runners have) and I am learning how much fuel I need to adequately recover and run my best. I am also incorporating more speed work.
Kari: I’m training right now for a spring marathon (registered for Lake Wobegon again but I may be running Eau Claire instead). My goal this spring is not a specific time but rather to run a well-paced race, maybe under 3:50? That would give me a lot of confidence for the fall. This summer my plan for getting faster is to slim down just a bit and fuel myself better. I’m guilty of eating like a runner, which is to say eating whatever I want! I’m also planning to try and increase my weekly miles and do more cross training. [These are] lofty goals but my three kids are all a little older and less dependent on me, so I just might have the time this summer. If I can stay healthy I think it’s very possible!
Lauren B.: For this training cycle I’m going to approach several things differently: I’ll definitely be more consistent with strength training, I’ll spend a couple of months doing a lot of shorter, high-intensity workouts before really getting into the longer distance of marathon training, and I will try to make healthy eating choices a more regular occurrence.
What’s Next for the Breaking B.Q. Project?
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!