Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Road to Boston: Guest Post by Bethany

Surprise Post #2!!!

I was going to have one more surprise post after this one, but the guest poster
couldn’t pull it off… which is ok, because these two posts are so inspirational!!

If you missed it…. Surprise Post #1 was The Road to Boston: Guest Post by EMZ

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Bethany from Our Love on the Run
Her and Ryan are getting married on May 27th!!  24 more days!!!  :)  Go congratulate them!! :)


Hi everyone, my name is Bethany from http://ourloveontherun.blogspot.com and this
is my story of how I first qualified for the Boston Marathon.
This post is a bit long, but if you have dreams of one day qualifying,
please try to read the whole thing!
I started running when I was 12 years old as a way to drop some unwanted
weight. I never imagined at that age where running would someday take me and
what a major role it would play in my life. My first "run" was once around
my block and I could have walked it faster than I "ran" it. The run left me
winded and I remember bending over, putting my hands on my thighs. Over the
next couple of months I worked up to 1 mile. I still remember my mom driving
in the car to clock the run for me and when she said "1 mile," I felt a
great sense of accomplishment. I slowly built up my milage over the next
year and a half and finally signed up for my first 10k in 1998. It was $10,
I was the youngest female runner, I was about 25lbs lighter than when I
first started running and my time was 1:02 and change. There were maybe 200
other runners(a race that is now $20+ and has over 1,000 runners).
By the time I entered high school I was running about 5x a week and the
summer going into my freshman year I hit double digits for the first time,
running 10 miles through my town one afternoon.
I ran consistently for 7 years before deciding to run a half marathon. I
always knew that I'd run long distance races someday, it was just a matter
of timing, location and of course money. I remember seeing the Boston
Marathon on TV as a kid and thinking to myself, 'someday I'll be there.' I
completed the half marathon in 2:13:00, it felt surprisingly easy, altho I
had already been running for 7 years and 13 miles wasn't much farther than I
was used to running anyway. I ran a couple more half marathons before I
decided it was time to try a full. I ran my first full in 2005 in a time of
4:54:00. I trained alone and didn't really know what I was doing, I also
didn't know a lot of marathoners at this point.
In 2006 I ran my 2nd marathon in a time of 4:58 and 2 months later I ran my
third in a time of 4:16.
Here is the progression from memory:
#1: 4:54:00
#2: 4:58:00 Goofy's Challenge
#3: 4:16:00
#4: 4:11:00
#5: 3:50:03
#6: 4:05:00 Goofy's Challenge
#7: 3:49:56
#8: 3:38:51
#9: 3:49:00 Goofy's Challenge
#10: 3:45:00
#11: 4:20:00 MCM with a friend
#12: 3:45:00 Goofy's Challenege
#13: 4:05:00 (with Ryan, got engaged at start line)
#14: 3:29:13
#15: 3:56:00 Goofy (Ryan's 1st sub-4!)
#16: 3:40:02
#17: 4:17:00 Alaska, with Ryan!
#18: 3:34:00
#19: 4:32:00 Goofy, with Ryan!
#20: 3:55:00
#21: 3:42:22
As you can see, I've gradually got faster over the years. I credit this to
experience, the more you run, the better you get, the easier it feels both
physically and mentally. I believe I have been so sucessful in running
because I took things slow right from the start. I consistently ran for 7
years before going long distance. I always had a super-solid base and
because of this training was easier and didn't take a toll on my body. I
personally think a lot of people dive into it too fast. I understand, it's
easy to get carried away but the longer you wait the bigger base you will
have and you will be a stronger runner and be less likely to experience
injuries. I personally think you should not begin to train for a marathon
until you've had at least 1 year of injury-free running. So many people
start training for a marathon with injuries and things gets worse and people
are setting themself up for disappointment.
I first Qualified for Boston at the Marine Corps Marathon. I should mention
that after my first marathon I decided to make up my own training plans
rather than follow a standard plan online. I made this choice because I felt
that a lot of plans were too much for me(I was teaching 8 aerobics classes a
week and was full time in college) and I felt the training plans were adding
unnecessary stress to my daily life.
My training consisted of about 40 miles per week with 1 long run on the
weekend, 1 longish run mid week and a 10k race or a half marathon here and
there. My training was and still is very laid back, I never stress, I never
overdo it and I always listen to my body. If I miss a run, I miss a run,
it's not the end of the world and bodies can always use an extra day of
My PR prior to qualifying at Marine Corps was 3:49:50, run at the Country
Music Marathon in Nashville, TN. To qualify I would have to take off 9
minutes. Marine Corps was my 8th marathon and I was incredibly confident (in
a non-cocky way) that I would BQ. I knew I had it in me and that it would
only be a matter of time before I did BQ. If I didn't BQ at Marine Corps,
then I would at my next marathon. At this point, it wasn't a matter of if,
it was a matter of when.
The morning of the marathon I wore a brand new shirt, brand new socks and I
nervously ate an entire package of Clif shotblocks for the first time ever
about 3 min before the race started, oops. Oh, and I ate Mexican food the
night before and I walked around DC for over 10 hours the previous day and
skipped lunch.
My plan was to run with the 3:40 pace team, a guy named Bill who was running
his 30-something marathon of the year. I started off in the group with about
100 women under age 35 who were determined to stay directly on Bill's
heels!! I was trapped in the middle of this group and missed the first
waterstop. At mile 3 I picked it up just enough to get about 20 yards in
front of Bill, here I had the whole road to myself! At mile 14 I met up with
a girl named, Ryan, who was also looking for a BQ. We ran together the rest
of the way and talked about everything under the sun like 2 old friends.
There's not much I can say about this race, it was FUN, the weather was
perfect and everything went well. I visualized myself crossing the
finishline sub 3:40 the entire time. I pictured myself putting my arms up in
the air and bursting into tears.
At mile 25.2ish Bill suddenly ran by me yelling "let's go ladies, GO! GO!
GO!" At this point I freaked out a bit thinking we weren't going to make it
so I took off running as fast as I could. When I crossed the finishline in
3:38:51 it felt completely normal. I did not throw my arms up in the air and
there were no tears. It just was. I looked down at my watch and hit "stop"
then casually went over to get my medal. It was VERY strange, almost like it
was no big deal. I think maybe because I was so confident I knew I had it
long before it actually happened maybe, I don't know. It still feels weird
til this day. I think bc I truely, truely believed it would happen (at this
race or the next one) I wasn't surprised.
I guess my story really isn't all that exciting. I put the work in over the
years and I kept dreaming until my dream became a reality. I am NOT a
naturally faster runner, not even close. Sure, there will always be natural
talent and people who will BQ on their first or second attempt and people
who are much faster than me right from the start, but that was in no way,
shape or form me. I've taken 1.5 hours off my mrathon time over the years,
I've gone from a half in the 2:10s to the 1:30s, and a 30++ min 5k to a sub
20 min 5k. A lot of people don't realize that I was once a "slower" runner
because they didn't know me back then, but I wish more people knew. Any
struggle that you might be having, I've had it too. Running is easy and
natural for me now and I rarely feel uncomfortable and hardly ever suffer
now, but believe me, I've been there and experienced it all.
If there is anything you can take away from my anti-climactic story, it's
that you CAN. It really burns a hole in my stomach when women who have run 1
marathon in a time of 4:15 say they know they will never qualify. Give it
time. No one expects you to BQ on your first, second or even third attempt.
If a BQ is what you want, then go for it, reguardless of what your current
PR is right now. You don't have to take 30 min off your time in 1 race, just
slowly chip away at it a little each time . Each race you run you'll get
more experience and it'll make the next race that much easier. It's a
process, it doesn't happen overnight. Even if you have a "failed" attempt at
a BQ, there really is no failure at all bc that race is all part of the
overall quaifying process. You don't need to quit your day job, you don't
need to run 60 miles a week, you don't need to run yourself into the ground
etc. A BQ is a reality for most women I'd say if you put in consistent
training over a period of time. Is it a reality that you will BQ on your
first marathon? No, probably not. But if you take your time, plan out your
training, stay focused and stay healthy, a BQ could easily be in your
future. Don't go writing anything off just yet, ESPECIALLY if you have only
run a couple of marathons or none at all. And once you know you can BQ, try
not to be too upset if you don't get it, there will be more chances and in
the end it makes it that much sweeter. Once you know you can do it believe
it to the fullest, so even if you miss it, that's ok, you'll get it next
Well I hope you have enjoyed reading this and I hope you have got something
out of this very long post. Please feel free to send me an email if you have
any questions or need some support. Please feel free to comment with your
goals or your improvements or victories, I would LOVE to hear them! Btw, I
would love to share some of my old race photos from back in the day but
digital cameras weren’t around back then! Lol Thanks, Zaneta!!!


Thanks for stopping by! I love hearing from you! Have a GREAT day!! :)

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