The Road to Boston

 

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JT PEEBLES

Have you run the Boston Marathon before?  If so, how many times? 

I have returned every year since 2013 and will be running my 4th consecutive Boston Marathon this year.

What is the hardest part of the course for you?

The hardest part of the course for me is cresting Heartbreak Hill and pushing through to the final miles. In this stretch there usually isn’t as much crowd support and it gets very mentally tough to hold pace.

How does Boston differ from other Marathons? 

I’m just as excited as the first time because nothing is quite like the Boston experience. The entire city is very encouraging, friendly, and extremely helpful when they find out you are in town to race.

How and where did you qualify? 

My friend Seth and I decided to race the Dallas White Rock Marathon in December as fast as possible. We set the goals of breaking 3 hours for my first marathon and beating my mom’s all-time marathon PR of 2:58:58 which happened to be on the same course 23 years earlier. Race day came again and brought steady rain in 40 degree temperatures. I gave it my all and crossed the finish line in 2:59:13, which qualified me for the Boston Marathon, but was 15 seconds shy of my mom’s PR. She lovingly laughed and said, “Don’t worry, baby…  You’ll knock it down soon enough.”

What is your favorite part of Marathon weekend? 

Other than all of the race day hype, my favorite part about the weekend is interacting with other athletes from all experience levels and backgrounds to swap stories of their journey to Boston. I can’t count all the fun conversations I’ve had with other racers and their families over the years.

How do you train for Heartbreak Hill and the last miles of the race? 

In preparations for this year I have taken a different approach and have used Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning book. I hope that this will see me through the last quarter of the race with more endurance and strength than years prior. My goal is to run just under 2:55 in my new Distance V’s. It’s taken hard work, but I feel stronger than ever and thank the Lord for being out there with me every day.

 

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ALISON HOOVER

Have you run the Boston Marathon before?  If so, how many times?

This will be my 3rd consecutive year running the Boston Marathon, and Goldilocks is hoping that this time is the charm! Conditions are never predictable, nor are they controllable, but after one “too hot”, and one “too wet”, here’s hoping this one is just right. I know, as most runners do, that running is a privilege, and it can be taken away in an instant or hindered by that injury that always lurks around the next corner. I feel fortunate enough just to have the opportunity to have made it this far, and as a result I try to give every race my all, because you never know if you’ll get the chance to do it again.

What is the hardest part of the course for you?

No matter the weather, the hardest part of the Boston course for me isn’t so much the course itself, but the fact that you are packed in the corrals like sardines, and it doesn’t thin out like other large marathons. Every sardine there is a fast runner, because they had to be in order to qualify, so you don’t get to clear any space for yourself, and run elbow to elbow (to elbow) for many miles. For me, this is a challenge as I don’t do well in crowds. The first six miles are slightly downhill, and normally this is where I would get a bit of a “jump” as I love downhill running. In fact, in my first attempt at the race, my qualifying time landed me in a later wave, but in the first corral. There was a bit of a gap between Wave 2 and 3, and for a few miles I was one of 6 or 7 women running out front, wind in our hair, feeling like we were Shalane Flanagan (or in my case my hero, Lanni Marchant). It was the first year after the bombing, and the course was lined with military as well as families with small children, and you felt the need to high-five every single one of them for being brave enough to stand out there, and you did.

How does Boston differ from other Marathons?

When race day arrives, it also feels a little different than other races. We all know that a marathon is 26.2 miles, but there is something about the endless bus ride to the start line in this point to point race that makes it feel more like fifty There is a huge amount of nervous tension on the bus, as well as an air of celebration, and it comes in the form of every accent and language, and you realize how far everyone has traveled just to be there. The course itself also has a huge air of celebration. Each neighborhood has its own flavor and you never feel that you are out there alone. There are of course the official water and aide stops along the route, but there are also seasoned crowds cheering for you who bring their own aide to the course at just the right places: be it a popsicle, an orange segment, or even a kiss. You feel like the crowds are there for you, and they are enjoying themselves and are proud of their cities and their race, and you feel the need to thank every one of them, and you do.

How and where did you qualify?

It wasn’t until the final mile of the Mercedes Marathon in 2013 when I saw my family and they yelled at me “Mommy, if you hurry, you could go to Boston”, that that seed was planted. I had heard of the Boston Marathon, but really didn’t understand the whole process of qualifying, let alone actually wanting to run that far ever again. It turned out that I missed it by one minute, and suddenly a goal that was never on my radar, was born. A few minutes on the internet looking at charts with age groups and times, and this whole qualifying thing became clear, and I signed up for another one six months later with an actual goal time in mind. I qualified for this Boston with my fastest time of a 3:25 at a downhill race in Utah, called Big Cottonwood. It is a gorgeous course, and is my favorite marathon to date. You start at an elevation of 8000 feet with cool temps and the smell of Christmas trees, and run down towards Salt Lake City, and at mile five, you might just run by a moose.

What is your favorite part of Marathon weekend?

The atmosphere around the expo and outside on the finish line feels different than other races, and as my husband once pointed out, it can be a little intimidating because every single runner there is fit. Really fit.  At most marathons you will see every shape and size of runner, but as you walk around Boston you start thinking that every single person you see is an elite runner and that you should ask for an autograph, because quite frankly they all look as if they could be. When you do your shake-out runs down by the water, you are actually running with (okay, near) the elite runners, because everyone feels a little anonymous there without their bibs, and everyone is preparing in the same way, no matter what the pace. And as you are running your easy three miles, you might say to your husband, “Isn’t that Meb running towards us?”, and it is, and he gives you a high-five when you timidly stick your hand out.

How do you train for Heartbreak Hill and the last miles of the race?

I do most of my training in Birmingham AL, where we have no shortage of hills, so the hills of Boston are not the challenging part of the course for me. The late start, the crowded field, and the warm temps that go along with the late start are the conditions that create the biggest hurdles for me, but they also create the excitement that makes the Boston marathon different from the others. So much training and effort has already been applied to the process of even qualifying, that the actual running of those 26.2 miles somehow feels like your reward, because you feel like you have earned it. The company that I work for emphasizes the process of goal setting, as well as planning out the smaller steps that help you to realize that goal, so when you arrive in Boston, and receive that coveted bib at packet pick-up, there is already a feeling of some accomplishment, even though you haven’t run a step of the course yet.

 

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JEFF GALFORD

Have you run the Boston Marathon before?  If so, how many times?

This is my first Boston Marathon and plan to run this race often in the future. I’ve been running for 16 years.  Over the last four years, I dedicated myself to be the best endurance athlete I can be. One of my goals was to run the Boston Marathon. I’m now excited to complete that goal by running the Boston marathon on April 18, 2016.

 How does Boston differ from other Marathons?

Boston is such a prestigious race. Anyone who’s not familiar with running or marathon running knows Boston. I think the most frequent question to a marathon runner is: Have you run Boston? I believe that’s why Boston is different than most races. As a runner, you are defined by qualifying and running Boston.

How and where did you qualify?

I consider the Carlsbad Marathon my home race. I train there all the time and know the area very well.  The race started off a little behind schedule; there was an 8 – 10 minute delay. I was a little frustrated initially, because I was mentally focused to start at 6:15 a.m. but I think the late start actually helped me to relax a bit. I started the race well and at a slow, steady pace. After the 3rd mile, my legs started warming up nicely and for the rest of race, I was able to run at a comfortable pace. I listened to my body and controlled my breathing the entire race. I finished the race strong and didn’t injury myself in the process. I placed 18th Overall and 2nd in my Age Division. This is where I qualified for the Boston Marathon.

 What is your favorite part of Marathon weekend?

I enjoy catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. By far the most exciting part of the marathon weekend is the start. I enjoy the heart-pumping nervousness and adrenaline rush. It’s the feeling of the unknown once the horn is sounded. The thought that always pops into my head while the horn is sounding is: “Why am I doing this again??? “.

How do you train for Heartbreak Hill and the last miles of the race?

My marathon cycle starts 24 weeks before the race.  Once I build a broad aerobic base, I go into a four-week hill training phase. I do two hill workouts a week focusing on good knee lift, posture and arm swing. I don’t run too fast or hard up the hill but slowly for resistance. My duration for the workout is about one hour plus a 15 min. warm up and cool down. I’m always running on rolling hills in the San Diego area.

I simulated the last miles of the race by purposely running on empty. I keep my run to one hour and keep the run at a high aerobic pace or zone 2. The workout is reverse of an out and back which the goal is to try to have a negative split. I run the opposite: I try to have a positive split and to get to the edge of bonking on the second half of my run.

 

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TAYLOR HANNEGAN

Have you run the Boston Marathon before?  If so, how many times?

This will be my first time running the Boston Marathon, and only the second marathon I’ve ever run.

What is the hardest part of the course for you?

At this point, the hardest part of the course (and the race in general) is going to be the unknown. I’m coming off a slight injury, but also much more consistent and structured training than my first marathon. I have some idea about what to expect on Marathon Monday, but it’s also going to be wildly different than my first marathon which makes it a completely new race to me.

How does Boston differ from other Marathons?

Based on my impressions (and anecdotes from some of my team) one of the biggest differences is the energy and the atmosphere. I’ve been told that it’s unlike almost any other race, and that there are crowds along the entirety of the course. In some ways, it sounds like it’s going to be similar to the Bolder Boulder, only a whole lot longer.

How and where did you qualify?

I qualified at the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon back in October of 2014. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I signed up five weeks ahead of time; I was in good shape, but my longest run in the six months leading up to signing up was no more than 10 miles. I called it my “Couch-to-Marathon-in-5-Weeks” training plan. I did three runs over 10 miles leading up to the marathon (yes, I knew how much of a mistake that was, even at the time. I’m young and invincible though!) but also had it in my mind that if I were going to run a marathon, I was going to qualify for Boston. The race went about as expected; I felt awesome for the first 10 miles, good for the next 10, and just tried to survive the last 6. I even started sobbing coming down the finishing chute because I knew I had qualified.

What is your favorite part of Marathon weekend?

Honestly, I’m really excited for the race itself. My parents and my grandmother are all coming to watch me, and my office is having a viewing party (I’ll be those three pixels in blue with my bright orange shoes!). I have a lot of people supporting me, which is an awesome feeling. I feel like I’ve put in much more training and effort preparing for the race, so it’s going to be totally different than my first time running a marathon. That, and the after-party at Fenway Park!

How do you train for Heartbreak Hill and the last miles of the race?

I’ve been doing hill repeats for some of my hard workouts, and it’s tough to do a long run here in Boulder without climbing at least a few hills. It’s definitely going to help coming from altitude as well. Combine that with the crowds, atmosphere, and adrenaline that will come with the race and I’m hoping I’ll cruise through the last part instead of just surviving!