Thank you for your kind words, Constance.
I can tell you about my traing. Hope that is helpful.
I was using the NYCM 18-weeks competitive marathoner training schedule and followed it almost on a day by day basis. I also checked around and found some training schedule specifically aimed for runners who want to BQ. That schedule was as intensive as or more than the NYCM one. So I think training program was important as the starting point.
I had trouble in improving my pace for at least in the first 3 months.
In the beginning, I would make 10 sec/mil faster one week, only to get 15 sec/mil slower the following week. The cause was usually shin splints or mild hip joint pain by the training of previous week. This was going in cycles when I thought about quitting.
Then, the information I read that speed work would not have any result if mpw was less than 25-30 week. Some even thought that 35-40 mpw needed before it would show some effect. Since I was on the 25-30 mpw in the beginning, I decided to progressively increased mpw to 35-40 to test that theory. During that periods, I would have shooting hip joint pain about two days after my usual LSD training on Friday. The intensity of the pain lessened fairly quickly with Jacuzzi & cold pool soaking, extra stretching. And I would do regular runs on Monday through Wednesday. By Thursday run, I would almost pain free and Friday came another LSD. Then, there would be another cycle of the runs and hip pain. Sometimes, the pain would just start at the beginning of the run and last for abut 1-2 minutes, then the rest of the run would be pain-free.
Since to BQ was my goal for the second marathon, I did not want to register for the Portland race unless I was 80% confident about BQ. At that time I did not have any training result to indicate for reaching that goal.
About 4 times when the pain was high and the pace was low, I wanted to abandon the training. I got talked out of it partly by family and friends, partly by myself. As it was not easy to give up 3 plus months worth of training. I stayed on and kept training until mid-August, thats when I began to see some net gain on my pace. Only about a week or 10 days before the last day for Portland registration that I had the confidence to sign up.
At Portland Marathon, the good starting time, 7AM; the good weather- cloudy all day; the comfortable temperature~55F; and flat course all helped me.
Training partially with a of 6-7min/mile running partner, last few days of carbon-loading (I was much more careful this time than for the first Marathon), speed work, hill training and 2 1/3 weeks of tapering (instead of three weeks) all may play a role in helping me to have 31 minutes faster finish time. This proved that one can BQ at menopause. Paying good attention to body signals and adjusting the intensity of workout and athletic goal is an individual decision. From the past six months experience, I feel that it just takes longer time for our body to show improvement as we get older. We can still BQ at 50 and beyond. If I can do it, so can anyone. I hope this is helpful.
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