Did Orangetheory Help Me BQ?

I feel like I could write about 234,908 posts about all of the things I learned, tried, tweaked, etc. during my journey to BQ.  So I’ll just do that until you or I get bored, whichever comes first… So far I’ve covered nutrition and pacing and my race tunes. Today’s topic is Orangetheory.

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How to BQ: The Right Tunes

I’m continuing my post-Phoenix Marathon brain dump, which I hope can help me with future races, but also help my readers who are looking to optimize their own performance.  I previously provided an overview of all the thoughts I had during the race, and then I wrote about how pacing and nutrition played key roles in my success. Next up: MUSIC!

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How to BQ: Pacing and Nutrition

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I spent years working toward my goal of running a Boston qualifying marathon time.  Recently, it all came together for me at my 21st marathon, the Phoenix Marathon, where I ran a 3:28:56, over six minutes faster than the BQ application cutoff for my age.  This race was obviously a PR for me, but I was shocked with how much I was able to improve over my three most recent races culminating at Phoenix.

First, I PR’d at Chicago with a 3:42.  I credited a fast course, good weather, improved training (mainly Orangetheory and running hills at altitude), and a stronger mental game. (My previous PR of 3:44:46 was achieved way back in 2012; for my thoughts on what went on in the five intervening years, check out my slowdown story and my thoughts about getting back on the BQ wagon.) Two months later, I PR’d again at Kiawah with a 3:37, an unexpected five-minute improvement.  Again, I credited a fast course, good weather, new mental strategies, and my altitude training.  But I also ran negative splits for the first time in a long time, and I felt like that made a huge difference compared to Chicago. Then less than three months after that, after training back at sea level, I PR’d and BQ’d at Phoenix with 3:28:56, a whopping eight minute improvement over Kiawah, and a 13 minute improvement over Chicago in less than five months.

As someone who thought that Chicago might be as good as it gets in terms of race conditions, that 13-minute improvement was unfathomable — especially without significant changes to my training. (During the buildup, I frequently Googled “What is a reasonable marathon time improvement?” and “How long does it take to BQ?”  Here’s my answer!) So what made the difference?

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