The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-384 – Stephanie Bombs to BQ

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Link epi4384.mp3

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -

Hello and welcome to the RunRunLive Podcast episode 4-384

How are we doing? 

Looks like spring is finally arriving up here in New England.  I was out in the woods this week doing a little, slow trail running with Buddy the Very Old Wonder Dog.  You can feel nature getting ready to explode.  Buddy is getting pretty slow, but I wait for him to catch up and he does ok.  He even breaks into a run every once in a while. 

It hasn’t greened up yet, but it will towards the end of this month. The ground is wet, and the snow is mostly gone.  But even the mud smells fecund in its dormancy.  There are a lot of trees and branches down.  From all the nor’easters we had.  I might go for a walk with my old dog today and bring my axe to clear some of the dead fall out of the trail. 

My wife is always telling me I shouldn’t drive around with an axe.  I’m not sure I understand the safety concern.  I was sharpening my axe last week and wondered how many people in the world still know how to sharpen and axe?  Such an ancient thing.  We humans have been rubbing stones against metal for a few thousand years.

Yes, the dog is still alive, I’m still alive and the woods are coming alive. 

Today we have a great story for you.  I talk with Stephanie who decided to become a runner the day the bombs went off in Boston 5 years ago.  From the emotional beginning, she’ll be running her first qualified Boston this year, on that anniversary.  Compelling stuff.

In section one I’ll talk about active tapers.  In section two I’ll talk about hope and emotional intent. 

Yes, I’m a little bit more than a week out from running my 20th Boston Marathon.  If you want to follow me my number is 18051.  Solidly in the midpack with a 3:33 qualification time.  It looks like we are going to get good running weather.  50’s and overcast.  This may be a good year.  But you never know in New England.

I’m in my taper.  This week still has a few quality workouts in it but next week I’m sure we’ll be shutting it down.  My weight is good.  My fitness is good.  I’ve got a little pirifomis pain but I’m working through it.  All in all I guess I don’t have any excuses!

Racing is like life.  You have to find that knife’s edge between too little and too much.  Too fast and too slow.  It’s a balancing act. 

Picture yourself walking along that mountain ridge.  It drops off into the depths precipitously on both sides.  But we have trained.  We know how to walk the edge with confidence and aplomb.

On with the show!

I’ll remind you that the RunRunLive podcast is ad free and listener supported.  What does that mean? It means you don’t have to listen to me trying to sound sincere about or Audible.. (although, fyi, my MarathonBQ book is on audible) We do have a membership option where you can become a member and as a special thank you, you will get access to member’s only audio. There are book reviews, odd philosophical thoughts, zombie stories and I curate old episodes for you to listen to.  I recently added that guy who cut off is foot so he could keep training and my first call with Geoff Galloway.   “Curated” means I add some introductory comments and edit them up a bit.  So anyhow – become a member so I can keep paying my bills.


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Section one – Active Taper-

Voices of reason – the conversation

Stephanie Ames Virding

March 20 at 4:58pm · Spring Valley, NV

Hi everyone!! Here is my introductory story – the video thing is not so much my forte’!

Grab a sammich and sit back…it’s a little long, but I think worth the read!  :)

We all have a story about where we were the day the bombs went off…This is the day I became a runner…

I grew up watching the race, the Red Sox, the Bruins, and doing so many things the great city of Boston has to offer. Five years ago, my husband and I moved to Las Vegas. On Patriots Day 2013, I was in my living room watching the race on TV. When it was finished, I turned it off, and shortly after that got a phone call from my mom, in tears, yelling at me to turn the TV back on, that “something really bad had happened”. And there it was…the news unfolding…my brother was running the marathon that day and his wife and my dad were near the finish line waiting for him. With phone lines down, it took some time to connect with his wife and my dad – oddly, Facebook messenger was operating and this became our life line. It would then be a couple of hours before we got word that my brother was ok….

Having just recently moved and retired, I was looking for some change in my life that would be healthy, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted or needed to do. I was overweight and sedentary. Most everything took so much effort. Everything about the bombings though felt personal. MY city had been attacked and for a few hours, I wasn’t sure if I had lost half of my family. As I watched the world wrap its arms around Boston, I also watched the running community and how they responded. I wanted to be part of that - I was all in! I was going to be a runner!

My brother helped me get started and we talked daily about what happened and the continued news reports…I bought a pair of running shoes. Set a start date. Set a goal – get to the end of the street and back – 1 mile. I was able to “jog” about 20 feet before I had to stop and say, “What the hell????” “This is SO hard!!”. It only made me want it more…

My brother instructed me to find a 5k event to keep me working toward goals. I did and six months later, I crushed it with a time of 40:53!! Hahaha!! I slept the rest of the day - BUT, I knew I wanted to get better and faster. I found a local running club and then my brother suggested signing up for the BAA 2014 Distance Medley. I was going to be back home for marathon weekend anyway – no way I would miss it! So, the 5k was no problem (although still a huge distance for me at the time). I figured I had enough time to train for a 10k, but that half marathon?? Holy hell…I didn’t know if I could do that. Marathon weekend and the first race for the Distance Medley came.

The city was on fire with an energy I can’t begin to describe! I am forever grateful to have been able to be part of that weekend. I ran the 10k with my brother and my dad, at my dad’s pace. He had been so affected by everything the previous year, that this meant everything to him. I had been training with my running club coach and was able to complete my very first half marathon as part of the Distance Medley, in Boston, the city I love so much. My finish time was 2:41:32. I vowed I would never do another one – the training, the anxiety, the effort – it felt impossible…

And those are the things that propelled me forward to want to do better at half marathons. I spent the next couple of years being 100% driven toward better running, faster times, and overall fitness. I lost 90 lbs. I brought my 2:41 half time down to a 1:48. Then I had a conversation with my coach…the 5th year anniversary of the bombings, the thing that started me running was coming up in 2018. I would be turning 50 the week before that race. I decided that I wanted to run Boston to bring my running journey full circle. I thought being a charity runner would be a good idea to make this happen. He stated that in no way was I going to run charity (although we both support charity running 100%). I was going to qualify. I had all the right things inside me, driven by determination and Boston to make it happen.

I had no desire to run multiple marathons to try to BQ and get to Boston. It would mean the most to me to run April 2018, and if I got in, it was meant to be. If not, it wasn’t. I wasn’t going to be a multiple marathon runner. So, the training began and I did everything that was within my power to make it successful – nutrition, training plan, cross training, strength training, reading multiple books about mental focus & motivation – all of it.

May 29, 2017, I stepped up to the start line of Mountains 2 Beach Marathon. I was ready. I was hungry for it. And I got it! Although I was shooting for a 10 min window & hoping at worst a 5 min window. I came in at 3:56:31, with around 3:30 to spare. Although this isn’t a guarantee, it was enough to keep me somewhat confident, until registration time. I kept with my belief that of it was meant to happen, it would. And it did…I made it in by 6 seconds! Wooosh!

After basking in the glory, the butterflies, and flip flopping stomach, I was going to be running Boston! I was ecstatic!! Then, it was time for training to begin. My coach of four years, the only way I have known running and the coach I trusted to guide me, unfortunately made inappropriate sexual advances toward me. My husband and I fired him on the spot.

But then I was panicked…What do I do? How do I train? How does this all work? I have an amazing support system of running friends that worked me through the grief & loss of my coach and helped get me get invested in a training plan to keep me on track. I have been following Hal Higdon’s Boston plan, with lots of success. I don’t have a time goal. My goal is to simply take it ALL in. Just to enjoy the entire experience, the crowds, the energy – and everything that got me to this point. I have two injuries slowing me down – residual pain from two hammy tears and now a bone bruise in my heel, but NOTHING will keep me from that start line in Hopkinton!

In just under four weeks, I will be running a race I NEVER thought possible when I first started running. I will be bringing my running journey full circle, as I bring it back to Boston, to run the race that started it all for me. I will be turning 50 a week before the race. I will be bringing closure to an event that changed my life completely and fully. And I will be doing it all with amazing friends and my incredible husband who has supported every step of this journey (and just ran his first 5k!!!).

Section two – Hope and intent –



Alright my friends you have hoped yourself – with good intent – through to the end of episode 4-384 of the RunRunLive Podcast. 

Next time we talk will be post marathon. Should have something interesting to say.  We’ll see. Boston is always an adventure.  Then I have to throw myself into ultra training for the Burning River 100 in July. 

I’ve been watching my way through a couple good shows on Netflix.  The first one, I think I told you about is Altered Carbon.  This is a hard scifi series based on a very good hard scifi novel. 

I would recommend reading the novel before you watch the series though.  The show sticks very closely to the novel’s narrative but in doing so it becomes a bit of an insider game.  If you don’t know the backstory of the universe you might think it is some sort of soft porn snuff movie.  

The universe’s conceit is that humans have discovered alien technology whereby you can put yourself on a chip.  Which means you can be reanimated in any body or ‘sleeve’ and few people suffer ‘real death’.  Leads to some tricky cultural problems when people can live forever.

I’m starting the second novel in the series as we speak.

Another one I’ve been working my way through is Peaky Blinders.  Which is about a gang in Birmingham after the great war.  It’s very well done.  It’s a bit like Boardwalk Empire.  The characters are compelling. 

It occurs to me that it is the embodiment of a Clockwork Orange set in the roaring 1920’s. 

(If you don’t get reference google it.  The Stanley Kubrik rendition of this Anthony Burgess novel in 1971 was quite the cult classic – you owe it to yourself to watch it.  You’ll never listen to Beethoven’s 9h the same way again.)

This is another one where if you have a weak stomach for the vinni-vin-vino or the ultra-violence you might want to stay away.  I myself was having dreams of murder last night. 

I’ll give you a running related slice of content recommendation as well.  As part of the marathon run up this year the BAA is putting out a podcast.  So far, they have interviewed Boston winners Jack Fultz, Bill Rodgers and Sarah Mae Berman, and also our friend Dave McGillivray.

Sara Mae won the race before women were official.  Great to remember, with all the dynamics of women in society today and current trials and tribulations, it wasn’t that long ago that the maximum allowable distance for women to compete at was 200 meters.  Seems absurd today, but that didn’t change until the 70’s.  Worth a listen.  Very inspirational. 

These women changed the world, like Stephanie is changing the world, like we all can change the world by filling that moment between stimulus and response with our intent. 

I’ll see you out there.


MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Direct download: epi4384.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 8:11am EDT





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