The Breaking B.Q. Project: Grandma’s Marathon Results
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 three months ago with the hopes of learning more about the mysterious process of breaking the Boston Marathon qualifying barrier. The last time we heard from our five Breaking B.Q. Project participants, several were in peak training for Grandma’s Marathon while others were focusing on baseline fitness. We followed along a day of training with Eddie, Lauren D., and Rachel, and learned more about the dedication and sacrifice required to reach their goals.
Finally, a week and a half ago, the big day arrived for three of our participants: Eddie, Lauren D., and Rachel were registered for Grandma’s Marathon with the hopes of hitting the B.Q. mark. 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? We spoke with our participants to find out!
Three B.Q. Attempts at Grandma’s Marathon
We’re dying to know: what was your result at Grandma’s Marathon? Did you B.Q.?
Eddie: Sadly, no B.Q. I was 2 minutes from the B.Q. time and 7 minutes from my goal. I’m taking some comfort in the 14-minute PR that I ran, but I’m very disappointed.
Lauren D.: My result at Grandma’s was incredible and far exceeded my dreams and goals for this race. I ran a 3:26:57, which is a B.Q. by over 8 minutes and a PR by over 7 minutes. Not only did I B.Q., but I won’t have to worry about being a Boston Marathon Squeaker!
Rachel: I, very, unfortunately, was not able to race on race day. Over Memorial Weekend I was in a bike accident. I am not an expert biker by any means, but I am fairly proficient and competent. I have been biking for a long time. It was a freak accident and it left me severely bruised and battered all over my life side. My left knee had a deep wound and I broke my left elbow. I had a sling and a cast but other than that I was mostly fine. What hurt the most was knowing that running Grandma’s was going to be difficult or not in the cards at all.
I cannot tell you how much I went back and forth about running the race. I knew that I probably could run with my cast, but I wasn’t able to run for two weeks after the accident because my knee was screwed up. I began to wonder if running with a cast was forcing this race too much. I wasn’t ready to bow out of the race. Training for a marathon is such a commitment and it was hard to let go of my dreams and goals. In the end, I decided not to race.
Briefly, take us through race day. What went well? What didn’t?
Eddie: Getting to the start was seamless and pre-race preparation went as well as I could have asked. At the start I was feeling good, there were a ton of Mill City Running friends who were also running which was awesome, plus my coach made the trip from Louisiana. I don’t think I had a long enough taper for the race, I didn’t feel fresh enough at the half and that combined with the heat and humidity did me no favors at all. I was struggling to take in fuel - the first time I have experienced this. While I got fluid in, I am certain it was not enough. I was on pace through mile 18, but the wheels fell off after lemon drop hill.
Lauren D.: I was pretty calm on race day; a little nervous, but mostly I was just ready to show up and get it done. Everything seemed to go quite smoothly for me and I felt very prepared when it came to the details - everything had been planned out in advance and I was able to execute my plan. My fueling strategy worked well: I took at least 1 gulp of water at every aid station, gels at miles 7,13, & 19, and dumped a cup of water over my head at every aid station. Despite the heat, I never felt dehydrated and I could tell my body was absorbing the water. I also had a plan to run on the left side of the race course, which ended up being ideal because that is where the only shade was. My mental low points actually came quite early in the race, which is unusual for me (and I think most marathon runners). My lowest point mentally came just after the 10K mark and lasted until mile 9-10 because the full sun had finally come out and I was feeling discouraged about the heat. It was really hot! I managed to get myself out of that funk and knew that if I was able to keep my pace until mile 20-21, that I would be able to gut it out and pull it off. I ended up having a pretty fast finish for miles 25-26.2.
How prepared were you feeling to attempt the B.Q. on race day?
Eddie: I was prepared to attempt the B.Q., but the conditions had me doubting whether I would make it.
Lauren D.: Going into the race I was feeling pretty confident. I knew how well trained and prepared I was compared to past races and I knew I had it in me. But, I was definitely worried and anxious about the weather. The forecast kept changing but was generally not at all favorable (hot, humid, full sun) and in the past this has not gone well for me. My last several weeks of training in Nebraska had been very hot (>90 degrees) and humid nearly every day, so I was hoping that my body had adjusted to it and that I still had a decent chance. I was not going to adjust my goals or change up my race strategy or paces.
Rachel: Part of the reason I also didn’t force the race was because about a month before my bike accident I injured my quad. I cut back my mileage and then took some time off. My build up before then had been really good, but with only two months before race day the wheels came off a bit. The accident was just kind of the last straw. I was not feeling prepared to B.Q. at Grandma’s.
What have you gained from this experience (not only participating in the project but in training and attempting a big goal?)
Eddie: I have gained a ton from the training plan put together by my coach, Barrett. I am faster, stronger, and a more competent runner than I thought possible.
Lauren D.: It took me 2 years to get to Boston once I decided I wanted to try, and through that time I think I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge about what works for me and what doesn’t when it comes to racing, motivation, training, and goal setting. One of the most important things I learned is how to bounce back from big failures since getting to Boston took me 3 total attempts including a DNF. Achieving this goal required me to dedicate myself completely and it is so much sweeter knowing how hard I had to work and how much I had to sacrifice to get there. I’ve enjoyed sharing my experience with others which is a very important step in the goal setting process for me. If anything, I hope I have helped or inspired others to chase their big scary goals.
Rachel: Training for a B.Q. is always motivating. I love putting myself on the line every day to get the best of myself. To see what is possible. I truly think I will reach this goal, but unfortunately, it was not in the cards for me this time. I have had mixed feelings about participating in this project - it was so great to see other people’s journeys and have another layer of accountability. And to see other people go for it - always inspiring! But when things don’t work out and you don’t even end up running, it can feel embarrassing. I’m sure it would not have been easier to have tried and failed, but in some ways, I would rather have had that outcome. I am putting this out there because I know I am not alone in putting my heart on the line and then having life get in the way.
What’s next for you?
Eddie: I’ll be making a second attempt at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and have a plan put together to train through the summer with that as my next goal race. Training starts in earnest this week after a low week resting from Grandma’s.
Lauren D.: Achieving this goal was worth every step and sacrifice I made, but I am ready both physically and mentally for a break. I will take a full 2-3 weeks off completely from running (where I will eat and drink everything I want), then this fall/summer I am switching to the trails to take a break from intense road racing and the constant focus on my pace. I will be running Ragnar Great River and the Superior Fall Races (marathon distance). After these races, I will hopefully feel very refreshed and excited to tackle intense training again for Boston in April! I ran a 3:26 in poor race conditions, which has me wondering how fast I can go in good race conditions. I’m excited to find out!
Rachel: I am not giving up on a B.Q. attempt but I have no actual plans in the works yet. I am running a few shorter races and the Chicago Marathon with my sister to raise money for the American Heart Association (no B.Q. attempt- just going to run and enjoy the experience). I need to remember the joy of running and appreciate the community.
Is there anything else you would like to add about the race, the project, your running, etc.?
Eddie: I’d add that the support and presence of the Mill City Running Race Team on race day was unbelievable. We had really strong cheer squads along the course and a number of racers in both the half and full. Without a doubt, this was the highlight of my race.
Big Audacious Goals
On behalf of the entire Minneapolis Running community, I’d like to thank Eddie, Lauren D., and Rachel 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.
Stay tuned as we follow the training of Kari and Lauren B. as they gear up for their fall B.Q. attempts.