Will I Ever BQ? Questions For Fellow Runners

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently…will I ever BQ (qualify for the Boston Marathon)? My mom and I want to run the Boston Marathon so bad and qualify one day. One day  being the key word. Running 8:XX minute miles for 26.2 miles seems impossible right now! Though for her, her qualifying time is 4:00 (mine is 3:35).

My last marathon was in 4:50, which was a big improvement from my first (awful) marathon of 5:15. That first one was the worst I have ever felt in a race before, and I remember feeling so bad for holding my mom back. But at least I got some redemption in my second NYC Marathon by running faster and not stopping to walk at all! And we crossed the finish line smiling, whereas the first time I was angry, yelling at my mom, and ended up puking in the bushes as soon as I crossed. Good times!

new york city marathon finish line

So now, as we are a month or so away from beginning marathon training (ps. – we got into the Chicago Marathon!), we are discussing goals. I think we can run under 4:30, but who knows. I’m feeling particularly inspired after reading this post on Reddit about someone who went from a 4:51 marathon to a 3:33 marathon!

I know that I need to run more miles, and will aim to run about 40-50 mpw. And I know many runners/bloggers I read are running anywhere from 30-50, if not more…so that’s where you all come in.

I have a few questions for my fellow runners, whether you have BQ-ed or not:

  • If you have qualified for Boston, how long did it take you? How many marathons?
  • What would you say has been a key factor in getting faster/more comfortable at running faster speeds?
  • If you run over 30 miles per week, how do you balance strength training and cross training? I see a lot of runners who still manage to do spin classes and yoga classes…I can’t seem to fit it all in my schedule! Do you do 2-a-days?
  • OR do you forego cross training for more miles (i.e. – running 6 days a week)?
  • Has anyone reading this gone from a 4:XX marathon to a 3:35 or less? That’s the time I need to qualify. Or do you know of any running bloggers who have?
  • Have you ran the Chicago Marathon? Thoughts on the course? I’m mostly nervous about the hit or miss weather!

Any answers, tips, advice, etc. would be greatly appreciated! I am feeling motivated and ready to at least get a sub 4:30 in my next marathon. Thank you for your help!


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What We Can Learn From Shalane Flanagan’s American Record Attempt

This past weekend, Shalane Flanagan went for the American Record at the Berlin Marathon. She needed to run below a 2:19:36 (crazy town). Although she didn’t get it, she did run a 2:21:14, and ran 48 seconds faster than her personal best.

Shalane FlanaganPhoto source

In April, she also ran the Boston Marathon (I was there!), and led most of the way, running at a blistering pace. She didn’t win, but she ran the fastest time an American woman has run at Boston, and many of the women who ran that race (and who ran Berlin), ran PRs.

The winner of the Boston Marathon, Rita Jeptoo, ran a course record that day (by almost two minutes!!). Furthermore, the second and third place females also ran under the course record.

So what’s my point? My point is that elite runners are able to break through mental barriers. When Shalane set a pace, other women went after it no fear. They knew they were running faster than their personal record pace but went for it anyway. That’s why so many ran below the fastest course time in Boston. They didn’t doubt their abilities.

Here’s a great quote Shalane gave in an interview about Rita Jeptoo in that race:

Rita gave me credit again at the awards ceremony that night, and credited me with her record run and she said she actually didn’t want to run that fast early on, and I think she was a bit frustrated. But she told me she couldn’t let me go. If she gave me any room, she may not make it up. It was too much of a gamble, so she just had to stick with the pace.

Shalane is known for racing hard and “wanting to hurt” in races. She’s not afraid to go out fast. All of these elites aren’t afraid of going out fast and working for it. I want that kind of grit when it comes to racing, especially in longer distances.

PS – She was aiming for 5:19 mile splits when trying to get that American Record. So crazy to me!!

I admire that she laid it all on the line and told the media exactly what her goals were. Sometimes I’m afraid to do that for fear of not meeting those goals, or being WAY off.

I want to learn how to be mentally strong in races like those elite runners. Running really is a mental sport.

Sure, in marathons (and in training) your legs get tired and achy, but sometimes it really is all about your mental fortitude. Can you push through and ignore your body being tired? When you start thinking, “I can’t do this,” can you immediately stop and switch your mentality?

In future races I’m going to think back on Shalane’s races and be motivated to push through. A good analogy I read recently was this: Squeeze your fist as hard as you can. Now squeeze harder. You could squeeze harder couldn’t you? Same thing goes for pushing your body. You can probably push harder when you think you can’t.

Now I’m really pumped for my next 5K and especially my half marathon in November!!

Have you watched any of Shalane’s recent races? She is one of my main running inspirations!


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Qualifying For The Boston Marathon

As you know, my mom and I went to Boston this year to watch the marathon. It was amazing and so inspirational. We vowed we’d be back to run it one day! We will work to qualify, even if it will take a few years to do so.


I was looking through the forums on LetsRun, and came across one about the Boston Marathon. Here is what someone commented:

I used to feel honored to wear my BAA Marathon shirt. Now, many others I see are “charity” runners. People who raise $$. Most are 5-6 hour marathoners. I know this is old news. But, is there any race left that is a qualifier race?
Maybe they can give the charity runners a different shirt?

This is one of those things where I can see both sides, but am not sure how I feel. I mean, I know that I personally want to work towards a qualifying time. Mainly, because I love a good challenge, and I love that feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a goal. Though, I do think that if it wasn’t realistic for us to qualify in the future, we’d consider running for charity. We ran the NYC Marathon for charity, and it was a great experience.

This comment also touches upon the “time issue” when it comes to marathons. Just because people run 5-6 hour marathons (my first was 5:20), does that make us any less of a marathoner? I’d love to run a 3-4 hour marathon but if I can only run 4:50 right now, why should that count against me?

I do understand the concept of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. It’s prestigious and many runners view it as the “Holy Grail” of marathons. Many work for years to get that BQ. So should charity runners be “allowed?” I mean…I think so. These runners are committing themselves to raising thousands for charity, and running 26.2 miles for a cause. Isn’t that great? I’m glad other people commented basically telling this person they are wrong, and that if they want to run a race solely based on qualifying time, then they should be working towards the Olympic Trials :-)

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is: Should marathoners be bothered by charity runners? As this comment said, should they get different shirts/jackets? Does it really matter?

What are your thoughts? Have you ever ran the Boston Marathon? Or ran for a charity?


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Motivational Monday!

Happy Monday!

The weekend went by so fast. Dan and I headed down to southern New Jersey for my old college roommate’s wedding on Saturday – which was beautiful! We had a great time despite the fact that he was in a lot of pain from having bruised ribs…all from playing football at a BBQ with co-workers. We were in the ER Friday night but thankfully everything is okay, and we went just mainly as a precaution to make sure he didn’t break a rib.

But we made it to the wedding and even though he was in pain he managed to dance with me for a little bit! :)

10311279_253487041501500_95392355_nAnyway…I posted this quote on my Facebook page last week (you should follow me if you aren’t already!), and I wanted to post it again today because I love it:

elon-musk-quoteThis can relate to so many things in life. How often are we told that something is impossible? Or made to feel like our aspirations are merely dreams? But Elon Musk is right. If something is important enough, go after it. Do everything you can to achieve that goal, even if it’s something that won’t be achieved for years.

For me (and my mom), that is currently a Boston Qualifying time. We know that it’s far off…but we still are going to run a couple half marathons and another marathon this year and work on slowly chipping away time.

As Nike says, just do it.

What is a goal that you are working towards that seems “impossible?”

Or have you accomplished something that seemed so far off or “impossible?” Please tell me!


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Boston, I Love You

Wow, Boston was just amazing. I was only there for 2 days but my mom and I had so much fun!

We left Sunday morning after Easter Mass. We stopped for lunch in Falmouth because we wanted to check out Cape Cod, though we kind of wish we didn’t. It was pretty dead (obviously) and we wished we could have driven to Provincetown but it was just too far. We should have just gone straight to Boston and explored there.

Anyway, after we left Falmouth we went to our hotel to take a quick nap. Then went into Boston to check out the finish area and get dinner.


finish line

It was crazy to be walking down Boylston Street and imagining how things were one year ago. But you could feel the buzz…you could feel that everyone who was there wanted Marathon Monday to come back strong and be truly inspiring. And it was.

We woke up at 6 AM Monday to take the T train into Boston. We had no idea what time we should get to the finish area to get a spot, so I just took a guess and said 7:30. We were right! Probably 30-60 minutes after we got there it was packed. I was so mad at myself because I THOUGHT to bring folding outdoor chairs but figured it’d be a pain to lug around. So we ended up buying 2…$25 each….

Anyway, pro-tip if you will ever be at the finish line waiting for a runner, stake out a spot by the Starbucks. They let you use their bathroom! Plus you can go in and get all the coffee you want :) The line did get pretty long but moved pretty quick.

I was really excited to see Shalane Flanagan. Even though she didn’t win like she so badly wanted, everyone was so proud of her. We were all cheering like crazy when we saw the pro women coming in. Shalane got a PR AND fastest course time for an American woman…so she should be pretty proud!

shalane flanagan

And let’s talk about Meb. He’s turning 39, and got a PR…and was the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983!! As he came in, the crowds went wild and were chanting USA! USA! My mom and I have met Meb, and he is such a down-to-earth individual. If you listening to his interviews before and after the race, you’ll know what I mean. He did it for Boston.


After the pros came in, we stuck around to cheer on everyone else. Boylston Street was so loud! It would get even louder when we saw a runner who was struggling a little or stopped to walk. That’s what gets you through a marathon…and what got my through tough points in NYC.



Overall, it was such a beautiful day! The weather was perfect, the streets were packed…everyone was “Boston Strong.” I totally fell in love with Boston. One day, my mom and I will be back…as runners! We were so inspired, we vowed we will try our hardest to qualify (one day).

Have you ever ran the Boston Marathon? Or been a spectator? Did you watch the live stream?

Any tips for chasing that BQ?


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Boston Strong


I can’t believe it’s been one year since the tragic events that unfolded at the Boston Marathon last year.

I remember exactly what I was doing when I found out. 

I was walking out of where I had just gotten my taxes done (yeah I waited until the very last day…) when my phone started getting texts from friends asking if I had seen the news. They know I love running and have ran marathons myself. I turned on the radio in the car, and initially didn’t think it was as big as it ended up being. I thought, “Wow I hope runners are still able to cross the finish line.”

Once I got home I realized how serious the situation was.

I’ve written about why I love the running community, and it was never more apparent than in the days after the Boston Marathon. So many stories of heroes and people helping others emerged. It showed that you can still have faith in humanity, even after the most tragic events.

My mom and I are going to watch the marathon this year. I can’t wait to see if live and cheer on the runners. It will be an amazing day, filled with what makes the running community (runners and spectators alike) amazing. 

If you will be running, let me know! I’d love to look out for you. Once I make my posters, I’ll post a picture in case anyone wants to keep an eye out for us.

I’ll leave you with this quote, which is just so true:



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Should You Bandit A Race?

Have you heard of banditing a race? Race bandits run races but do not pay the registration fee. It’s possible they may use race support (water, etc.), but some don’t since they didn’t “pay for it.”

There are lots of reasons someone may “bandit” a race.

  • Helping to pace a friend.
  • Using the race as a training run.
  • Perhaps the race is out of their budget.
  • Race is sold out, but they want to use it as a training run or run with a friend, etc.etc.

So What’s The Big Deal?


I honestly didn’t think much about race bandits until I started reading the controversial view points. It seems it’s like politics: everyone has an opinion, and you probably won’t change anyone’s mind about how they feel. Is it ethical? Unethical?

Below I will discuss the viewpoints I have found, and which one I tend to agree with.

It’s Bad-Never Do It

Plenty of runners are against race bandits, and believe you should never do this, no matter the circumstances. The point of a race may be to raise funds for a charity or organization, and you’re just deciding not to pay. I posted on a Facebook group and here’s what one runner had to say:

I’m opposed to Race bandits. With all the planning and costs that go into planning and executing a race and many of the race proceeds goes to a charity, I think its disrespectful to bandit a race.

Basically, if you plan on running it, you should pay for it. Or how about the fact that unknown runners on the course could be dangerous? Carey Pinkowski, the Chicago Marathon race director, pointed this out in a Runner’s World article.

He stressed that the risk to the race organizers was not one person drinking sugar water he didn’t pay for, but an unknown number of people on the course, cumulatively taking up space and resources, with no ID, no way to know their medical history, and no way to track them.

Each unregistered runner, Carey said, is an additional strain on resources, and each one on the course puts them closer to not being able to manage the event. “We forecast all our allotted resources, fluids, security, medical personnel, against a certain number of participants.”

Here’s a very sarcastic (and kinda funny) letter to bandits from Competitor. Last point that I’ve read a lot is, if one person does it, then nothing is stopping multiple people from doing it, and when does it stop?

It’s Fine-Who Cares

This is probably the least common opinion, but these people are okay with bandits. One may think, why do I need to pay 30-40 bucks for a 5K? Just for the t-shirt? I can make a donation of my choice to the organization, and run 3.1 miles if I want to! It’s not illegal to do so. If you don’t care what people think, then who cares? Plus, how much of the water or bananas and bagels get thrown out at the end anyway? Is it really a big deal if one person takes a cup of water?

I actually tried doing a Google search for “race bandit ok” and variations but couldn’t find much. If you feel this way, please leave me a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

It Depends On The Situation

I would say I fall in this camp. It really depends. If I need to do a long run this Sunday, and there happens to be a half-marathon in my town, I don’t see anything wrong with jumping in for a few miles BUT not taking any support (gels, water, etc.). I’m only going to be on the course for a few miles, and certainly don’t plan on crossing the finish. I’d never jump in a race and take a medal I did not deserve.

I’m also okay with people jumping into pace their friends. Dan jumped in for the last 3 miles of the NYC Marathon in 2011 and I really needed that. My mom and I ran 1 mile of a local 4 mile race because we were out on a run, and I wanted to run for a bit with a friend. Though we did make sure to stay on the sidewalk while they were on the roads.

Here’s an opinion posted on Google+:

I think it depends. If the organizer is raising money for, let’s say, the Make-a-Wish foundation, it’s wack to jump in for free. If it’s a race sponsored by a bank, insurance company, or for any personal financial gain, you can bandit it all day long.

I don’t foresee myself ever starting and finishing an entire race without paying, but I do think there are situations where it’s not as big of a deal…but that’s just me!

Also, did you know that the Boston Marathon (begrudgingly) lets race bandits start the race in dead last and run the course? Although this year they are really discouraging it, according to this article in Runner’s World:

Do you anticipate a greater than usual number of bandits for 2014? 

D.M.: We truly hope not. We really want to discourage unregistered participants this year more than ever given lack of space and the level of security that most likely will be present. This is the year to cheer on those who have earned the right to be here. Soon we will be announcing our plans for other race weekend events, which will give others an opportunity to participate.

T.G.: We will ask for everyone’s cooperation in not diminishing the experience for those who have properly entered–as well as not overburdening our support systems–by running unofficially. We anticipate a high degree of cooperation, just as we have received an immense degree of support from everyone in so many other areas in recent months.

What do you think about race bandits? 

Which viewpoint do you agree with the most and why?


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Half-Marathon Training?

Okay so I mentioned in my post about possible races that I want to run the Asbury Park Half…well, try to! It’s at the end of April, so I think it’s totally feasible. I should probably start running more though…

I have done a handful of treadmill runs since November, but last weekend was the first time I ran outside. 2 miles was a struggle! So pathetic :-P

But I’m ready to get back in shape and chase a half marathon PR for this year.

I Google-ed “how to BQ” or something like that, out of curiosity. I would love to have a Boston Qualifier someday, though I know it’s a long ways off. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start working towards it now.

Can you tell I love someecards?

One of the things I found was that in order to get a faster, average pace, training for a faster 5K can help. I wish I could find the link again, but now I can’t seem to find it.

Last year was basically all marathon training, and while there were speed workouts, I doubt I would have had a 5K PR. I would like to try this methodology out this year, and see if it helps me get a 5K PR and a half marathon PR!

The training plan includes a long run, hill run and tempo run each week, along with easy runs. I would like to continue lifting regularly, so I will probably cut a run-day out for a lifting day. Since I’m not training for a marathon or anything this year, I think I have more leeway to experiment with different things.

Here are the first 2 weeks of this training plan I found by Mario Fraioli:

5k training plan

Currently, I’m just working on re-building my base because I highly doubt I can run for 60 minutes right now. I have done the hill workout though because I love doing hill workouts on the treadmill, and it makes it way less boring.

I’d like to run easy for 2-3 weeks before starting the plan. We’ll see where it takes me! I like trying out new things and seeing how they work. I was very scared to try out Hansons Marathon Method but I loved it and definitely plan on using it again the next time I’m marathon training.

Also-side note-do you guys use Daily Mile to track your mileage? Or a good ol’ fashioned notebook? If you use a notebook, how do you break you run down? I was using an excel sheet but don’t know how to reformat it for a new year, so I will have to start using something else.

What are you training for in the near future?

Do you want to BQ? Is it going to happen sooner or later for you? Hopefully I can get there one day!


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Motivational Monday!

A new week, yet again. Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend! Now time to get back to work ;)

Here’s a quote I found today that I love:

This resonated with me and marathon training. One day, I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It will take me a while to get to that point…but it is still a goal of mine. I have plenty of time to train and hit that goal one day! *crossing fingers*

What is a goal you have that you know may take a while to accomplish, but you work for it anyway?


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Why I Love The Running Community

…and I think most of what I will say about the running community is also true of the general fitness community. (PS-This may be a longer post)

After everything that has happened the past few days, I have been reflecting, and began thinking about the running community as a whole.

I knew no one who was running Boston, or up there for the marathon.Yet, I still felt as if I did. I felt sad  and heartbroken hearing the news pour in. I saw this quote on Tumblr, and it made me realize why:

As a fellow runner, I feel as though someone just attacked my brothers and sisters. Praying for you, Boston.

The running and fitness community is amazing. We are strangers, yet I have created relationships with other bloggers and readers. We support each other despite not knowing each other. This was first evident to me when I started my blog on Tumblr. And it is even more apparent now as I read the stories of runners, and the acts of kindness they experienced. Here are a few examples I read from Kate’s blog at SoCal Runner Gal.

She was running at Boston…and the “runner love” started at the starting line. She realized her pants had a hole in the butt (!!), so her and her friend walked around the athlete’s village seeing if anyone had an extra pair of pants or shorts. This is what happened:

We found a woman who gladly gave me the tights right off of her body.  The very tights that were keeping her warm while we sat for hours in the cold.  That is typical of a runner.  Runners support one another even if they’ve never met.  I was incredibly grateful for this woman’s generosity but not at all surprised that I found someone in a crowd of marathoners willing to help out a stranger.  Runners are supportive, kind and generous human beings.

She also said:

I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, “Man! People are awesome!” as I smiled and ran.

Which is so true. I got emotional just watching the marathon on TV because I remember what it’s like to be running a marathon and having the spectators cheer you on and believe in you. When I was struggling in the New York City Marathon, a man hopped in the race and said he’d run alongside me for the next block, and said “You can do this!!!” He gave me the little extra push I needed…and I had no idea who he was…

Thankfully Kate finished the race before everything occurred. But I have read so many other stories of people who were stopped at mile 24-25, and the acts of kindness they experienced from strangers.

I saw this posted on Facebook by a woman, who is asking people to share the photo so she can find the man who did this…it is an incredible gesture. She was stopped around mile 25, and was emotional after hearing her family was okay. Then this happened:

The woman took the space tent off her husband, who had finished the marathon, and wrapped it around me. She asked me if I was okay, if I knew where my family was. I reassured her I knew where they were and I would be ok. The man then asked me if I finished to which I nodded “no.” He then proceeded to take the medal off from around his neck and placed it around mine. He told me “you are a finisher in my eyes.” I was barely able to choke out a “thank you” between my tears.

That literally brought tears to my eyes when I read it!

I’m not really sure where I am going with this post. But I just have been so touched by the things I am reading regarding acts of kindness and helping. We are all part of the running/health/fitness community, and we support each other without knowing one another. And that is what I love.

I will leave you with this quote that I found yesterday that is so true in my opinion:

Feel free to comment with your own thoughts, I’d love to read them.

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