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2017 Boston Marathon-My Plan to Get There

By Amanda:

I conquered Heartbreak Hill just a few miles back. Now I’m hoping adrenaline can get me through this last mile. I’ve earned my way here and now I’m going to just take it all in over these final strides. The roar of the crowd is getting louder which means I must be getting closer to the finish. As I make the turn from Hereford St onto Boylston St I’m overcome with goose bumps. Thousands of screaming spectators line this famous street cheering runners toward the finish. Where’s Jimmy??? I only have 3 blocks to go. He said he’d be near the finish holding a big pink poster that says “Smile if You’re Running Commando”. Then I see him, pink sign in one hand, camera in the other. I give him a wink and a smile then begin to tear up. I cross the finish and begin sobbing profusely. I just ran & finished the 2017 Boston Marathon!!!

That’s the vision I play out in my head when I think about the end goal. Sometimes the story changes a bit but regardless, I made it there. Some people probably think I’m crazy when I tell them I’m going after a BQ (Boston Qualifier) as my mission for 2016. After all I do need to shave about 20 minutes off my current PR of 4:01:17(2015 Chicago Marathon) to make it happen. I was crazy when I decided to run my first marathon so why should I stop doing crazy things now?

My finish time at the 2015 Chicago Marathon was almost a 20 minute PR thanks to a lifestyle change I made with my nutrition and strength training. I started eating clean and incorporating more strength training thanks to the 21 Day Fix program. My friend Kristin introduced us to the program after she had amazing results. I started it during marathon training and after two rounds I was down 14 pounds. I was leaner and stronger than ever. People asked why I would diet in the middle of marathon training. I wasn’t dieting…I was eating better and working out.

Me and my 21Day Fix Coach Kristin after the 20 Miler
Me and my 21Day Fix Coach Kristin after the 20 Miler

The race times then started dropping dramatically as marathon training went on. I PR’d in the Alpine Races Half in September by 2 minutes, crushed Chicago in October, then PR’d again by over 1 minute at the Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half in November with a time of 1:47:28.I feel like I’m running better than ever and haven’t  peaked yet. So how am I going to pull this off and shave another 20 minutes off my full marathon time? How can I maintain my half marathon pace for an additional 13.1 miles?

The first thing I did was request the help of running Coach Eric Wallor from Full Potential Running. I met Eric over the summer in 2015 when he was coaching the workouts for our awesome run club, Dick Pond Fast Track Racing Team. He’s a very accomplished runner and coach and I found his speed work programs to be very helpful last year. I know I have the right guy. I simply told him my goal for 2016 is to qualify for Boston and I want him to help me get there. After asking me questions about my running and workout history he said, “you can do this…let’s do this!”

Amanda and Coach Wallor after the F^3 Half Marathon
Amanda and Coach Wallor after the F^3 Half

Both of us know it’s going to take time and a lot of hard work so we decided Last Chance BQ.2 Marathon in Geneva IL on September 10, 2016 will be the target race. It’s called Last Chance because it’s literally the last marathon you can run to qualify and submit times for Boston. It will be our one and only shot this year. We chose this race for several reasons: First, it’s a fast, flat 3.21 mile loop designed for BQ’s on which over half the runners historically hit their qualifying times. Second, it’s  gives me the time needed to prepare. Finally, the people who pace this event are my teammates, including my Jimmy. Knowing my friends will be there literally every step of the way is a big deal. My hubby plans to run the last loop with me so we can cross the finish together.

I will be 40 years old on Boston 2017 race day so I must qualify at the 40-44 age group time for women of 3:45. Given the fact that participants accepted into 2016 Boston needed a time 2 minutes 28 seconds faster than their qualifying time, I better shoot for a 3:40. That’s a 20 minute PR. I can do this!

Coach Wallor’s plan for me is very simple.  For the next few months I’m doing primarily speed based training full of interval runs, all out strides, and hill work. The key is to build strength and speed as opposed to focusing on mileage. In addition I’m focusing heavily on strengthening my core with various exercises including plenty of planks and yoga. I still do time based long runs on the weekend between 90-120 minutes at varying paces. I will run a couple of half marathons prior to the September full. A good test will be the Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville, KY at the end of April. We’ll see if this speed training pays off and get a feel for my progress.

Click here to watch Coach Wallor discuss his training philosophy.

After Louisville Coach will have me doing race specific workouts geared specifically for Last Chance BQ.2. The volume will definitely pick up from there. I plan to run the course several times before the big day in September! What I love most is my amazing support system. Between Jimmy, Coach Wallor, my teammates and all of my running friends, I like my chances. If I stick to the plan I have in place, my feet will touch the start line on running’s biggest stage at approximately 11am on Monday April 17, 2017…A dream come true!

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