For many runners, qualifying for the Boston Marathon is the pinnacle of their running careers. Some are talented enough to nab a qualification on their first marathon attempt, while most work for years to finally run a qualifying time. And qualifying is not always enough, With Boston Athletic Association’s already tough standards, in recent years a cut off time was put into place due to a higher volume of qualifiers, causing qualified runners to lose a spot.
The Rogue Racers Quest to Qualify Series will tell the story of each of the Rogue founders’ journey to their first Boston Qualifier. In this, hopefully you will find inspiration and motivation to keep pushing and keep improving.
I remember the winter of 2014/2015 very vividly. It was a horribly cold and snowy season, and I was preparing to run my very first Boston Marathon. Even the polar vortex-like conditions couldn’t dampen my spirits. Still to this day, when I stop and think about that timeframe, it brings a smile of personal satisfaction to my face for many reasons…some related to running specifically and some related to my life in general. Running had been the catalyst that began my life transformation, from an unfit and unhappy twenty-something to a fit and fulfilled thirty-something. By now, running had transcended all aspects of my life.
On reflection, I wanted to uncover a word on which to hang my life-changing running experience… one that adequately described my journey. I believe “ambition” fulfills that search. Ambition is defined as a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work. What better word to describe what is required to undertake marathon training! And, this word embodies what it has taken for me to get from point A (never running) to point B (qualifying for Boston).
In 2008, I made some rather significant life changes. These changes were health related, and mainly included improvements in diet as well as exercise routines. I had never run a day in my life, with the exception of what was required of whichever sport I was playing at the time. Also, I ate horribly. But that all changed in 2008. I decided to cut out soda, I began cutting fast food out of my diet, and then the fun really began. I ran my first race in 2009 (a 4 miler), ran my first half marathon in the spring of 2010 (barely broke 2 hours), my first full marathon that fall (4:43:06), and joined a local running group in December of that same year. And this is when things really took off. The running and racing bug really bit me, and I would never be the same.
In the early days of running, Boston was never a thought. Even after knocking roughly 25 minutes off of my marathon time on my second marathon, I was still an hour and 15 minutes away from qualifying. At that time, a BQ had never even crossed my mind as a possibility. But, once I started training with more focus and purpose, my times really started to drop. I started doing speed workouts in 2011, and saw my next marathon time drop from 4:20 to 3:48. These huge improvements were insanely gratifying, but I wasn’t sure how long to expect these kinds of leaps in progress. Sure enough, the massive time-drops stopped, but improvement continued none-the- less. I got to a point where I was learning to RACE marathons, not just endure them. As I continued to hone this skill, my times reflected it. By early 2013 I had broken the 3:30 mark, and while I was ecstatic with this time, I was still not seriously considering a shot at a qualifying time.
The process of training with a group of like-minded individuals is a powerful force. It added fuel to the fire of ambition that I already had burning inside me. By 2013, a fairly competitive “group-within- the-group” had formed, and we really pushed each other to excel. Who knew that this was the very early budding of what would become ROGUE! It was during the summer of 2013 that I formed this goal (that had originally developed from a mere dream) to actually give Boston a serious shot… to really TRY to qualify… to properly TRAIN for it! And this is when things took off. I raced a half in late 2013, and based on my time (1:27), I knew I had a chance. I was getting closer!
I toed the line at the 2013 Columbus Marathon with butterflies in my stomach, excitement swirling around in my head, and determination in my heart. I knew it was a stretch to knock 15 mins off my spring marathon time in order to BQ, but for the first time in my life I stood at the starting line with the sole purpose of qualifying. It was exhilarating! And while I wanted this more than anything I had wanted in a long time, it was not to be on this day. Running has a way of humbling us when necessary…to remind us that maybe we hadn’t prepared as completely as we could have and should have. I had the ambition, but still lacked the execution. I ran a good race, but came up 5 mins short. It wasn’t a fruitless effort however, as it actually fueled the fire even more. I wanted this, and I would get it!
I would train harder and smarter all winter, and 2014 would be my year. Cue the 2014 Last Chance for Boston Marathon, the hamster wheel of races. It was flat, fast, and offered no threat of heat since it was being run in February. Again, at the starting line, I felt those same feelings I felt in Columbus the previous fall. And this time, it was meant to be as I successfully qualified for the Boston Marathon for the first time in 3:06:29! In less than 4 years, I had trimmed over an hour and a half off of my marathon time to reach my goal. The year culminated with my Erie Marathon experience, where I broke the 3 hour mark for the first time ever.
My dream, and my goal, was finally realized when I received that heavenly piece of mail from the Boston Athletic Association telling me that I had been officially accepted into the 119th running of the Boston Marathon, April 2015!
Read about Rogue Racer, Brian’s BQ Story here.