Bayshore Marathon: Race Report!

May 26, 2024

Long Journey: Many readers know I’ve had “qualify for Boston marathon” on some sort of life list for many years now. Interestingly, that target has gotten more difficult in some ways as I’ve approached it — in 2009 when I ran Thunder Road in 3:48:xx, the BQ time for my “under 35” age group was 3:40.

In 2024, the BQ time for my 40-44 age group is . . . 3:40!

(Probable reasons: super shoes, popularity of Boston and marathons in general, downhill marathons ie Revel races)

I ran my first marathon in 2005 (in 4:01) and learned how much I loved the challenge of training and racing. However, running has had major ups and downs for me over the years! I was incredibly well-trained for a marathon (similar to current fitness) in 2007, and then got an achilles injury ~2 weeks out from race day. In 2008 I had major hip issues, and an MRI showed a torn labrum (very common but at the time I wondered if I would ever really able to run/train again). In 2009, I ran my prior PR and then started to try to get pregnant and found that marathon training and fertility (at that time!) didn’t mix and left marathons behind the next 14.5 years (and 3 kids!).

I did a few half marathons when the kids were younger — one at 6 months postpartum, and the last in January 2020 before the world shut down. I never trained particularly hard for these efforts (maybe 20-40 mpw) but I enjoyed doing them. When we had babies/toddlers, I didn’t really feel like our schedules/phase of parenthood was particularly conducive to marathon training so I just figured I’d wait.

In 2020, I didn’t run at all; I focused on strength training (my BeachBody phase!). In 2021, I realized I missed it. And in September 2022, I ran a 5K as fast as I could and was really disappointed in my pace (9:03 average with a positive split – that third mile at 9:15/mi).

I came home a bit disappointed and wondered if all of my best running years were behind me. I even posted to Reddit (thread here!) asking others if improvement after age 40 was possible. Most people said yes, especially if one was not optimally trained before.

So, I decided to try. I gradually increased my mileage and in February 2023 ran the A1A half marathon in 1:58 (not my best, but sub-9 pace — faster than that September 5K). And then two things happened:

1- I became friends with and started running in a group of women. This brought a social aspect I didn’t know I was missing, and I loved it! One of the women (Jacy) is a former D1 collegiate runner who is still blazing fast but also super encouraging and never complains about slow paces (hey, keep your easy days easy, right?!). I run with this group every M/W. These aren’t speed workouts but usually a moderate effort AND also a super fun way to add conversation and camaraderie to running for me.

2- I hired a coach, Drew from Microcosm. I told him what my goals were and he didn’t think they were totally crazy, and so off we went into training. This is all virtual – he just tells me what to run on a google sheet (generally effort based, not pace) and I do it! Josh and I both started training for the Jacksonville Marathon in December 2023. Drew started piling on milage pretty early (50+ mpw, lots of 16-18 mi runs on Saturdays) and my body started adapting. I was doing some tempo miles at close to 8 minute pace — unheard of in recent years!

Setback: Everything was going well until I had a freak accident involving my car (thankfully no one was hurt and nothing was damaged except me!) on October 19th. It took me basically until January to be able to run pain-free and normally again. It was very frustrating to have built up so much fitness and then feel like I was losing it. We did rent a Peloton bike for 2-3 months, which I think helped!

2024 Training: As mentioned, by January I was doing pretty well. I started running consistent 50+ mpw weeks, usually over 6 days. I was also strength training ~2x/week. I ran the A1A half in 1:46 (though course was officially long and so probably was more like 1:44) – either way a PR and a huge improvement over the prior year. Drew ramped my mileage back up after a quick recovery and aside from one major down week when we went skiing, my mileage held steady at ~60+ most weeks until the race, with 2 weeks at 70 mpw and then a pretty tiny taper (66, then 56, then race week!).

I did a lot of long runs with MP miles in them and a few long interval workouts (mile repeats, 2 mile repeats, etc). I did not do any high-end speedwork (400m, 800m, etc). I did some weeks with a hill day, which was on the treadmill or at a local park that has manmade hills (south FL does not have any significant natural elevation!).

Okay, so THAT is your background!! Fast forward to this Thursday . . .

Pre-Race: We flew up to Traverse City on Thursday! The trip ended up taking most of the day, and we spent it reading and eating a lot of carbs while flying. I followed the 3-day carb load from Meghann Featherstun’s calculator (here). The first two days I tracked fairly accurate and on day 3 I just estimated, but I’m pretty sure I approached or exceeded the goal of 385 grams/day.

I honestly did feel kind of weighed down and puffy by the end of it but I survived. And I felt incredibly springy and energetic on a little 2 mile shakeout on Friday, so I figured it was working.

THE RACE!

I wore: Adidas short tights, a Rabbit tank, a FlipBelt, and ASICS Metaspeed Edge Paris. All worked out except I did end up with significant chafing (even though I had none in 20-mile training runs!). I stuffed 8 giant Gu Liquid Endurance gels in the pockets of the shorts and my FlipBelt.

I felt so great in the early miles of this race. I felt like I was running 9 minute pace, and my watch said I was running 8 minute pace. I could actually feel what seemed like built up fuel storage in my legs. I kept repeating to myself “I can do this all day!”. The temperature was 59F and humid at the start — from my Floridian perspective this was basically heaven.

I listened Taylor Swift from miles 1-8, which was nice and chill and reminded me to just cruise and not push. Then my playlist shifted to more uptempo music. There were some very gentle rolling slopes on the course (overall elevation gain and loss was ~400 feet) and the views of the water were gorgeous! There weren’t any true hills to speak of which was good since I definitely don’t train on them all that often!

I kept cruising, looking forward to seeing Josh around the ~12.5 mi point, since it’s an out and back and he was going at a pace a bit ahead of mine. That was super fun (I yelled something like YOU’RE DOING AWESOME!!!) and then the 13.1 mi turnaround came up quickly after. I took a gel every 3 miles, which meant 8 total throughout the race!! Every single one seemed to help provide a bit of a pick me up, and I never had any nausea or cramping, so I would do this exact plan again. I took in water (probably 1-2 oz) by pinching the cup and continuing to run at every water stop, approximately every 1.5 miles of the course.

I felt honestly GREAT until around mile 20, but I had some fear of what was to come so I tried to hold back. Mile 21 it started to feel a bit harder, though doable. I didn’t slow down much but I kept having worries about “what if something happens and I just can’t keep doing it?”. I used my gel miles as milestones, telling myself just get to 24 and then it’s soooo close to the end!

I sort of stopped looking at my splits at this point because I didn’t want to see high numbers and get discouraged — but honestly looking back it wasn’t so bad! I did start doing some bargaining with myself thinking “hey, if you run this part a little slower it won’t really impact your time THAT much.” Ha! The mind games we play . . .

The end of the race was kind of funny in that the directions weren’t totally obvious and there was not much crowd support until the very end, so I just followed the one woman fairly close to me up ahead. I’m glad she was there or I might have started to feel confused about where to go! The final ~200m of the race are on the high school track – that part was SOOO much fun. I looked up at the clock to see 3:34:something and started choking up a bit, because I was so excited to finally meet my BQ goal. I crossed the line in 3:35:01 and immediately saw Josh!!! He looked happy and said he had a good race too – he ran 3:19:51. Funnily enough that puts us at 4:59 and 5:09 under our Boston cutoff times, respectively. (So either we would both get in or not, unless the cutoff happens to fall at like 5:05!!).

But we were super happy just to meet the qualifying standard, a very longstanding goal for each of us.

this was a before pic. We took like no pictures! Hopefully I’ll get at least one decent official race pic. (Though historically I find them all hideous and unflattering. Ha!)

So what’s next? I will save that for a future post!! But if you’ve read this far, thank you for cheering me on in this fun journey. I don’t think there’s anything particularly heroic about marathon training (vs anything else one might choose to do!) but it’s incredibly satisfying to work gradually towards a goal and see it come to fruition. And the moment of finishing is just sooooo much fun. I very much hope to do it again!!

68 Comments

  • Reply Grateful Kae May 26, 2024 at 10:27 am

    Ahhh can’t believe you got this recap up already! Love it! Just sat down to catch up on a few blogs and this was perfect timing.

    I am so amazed and so impressed with all of this. Mostly, I think, your extreme dedication to the training process. I feel like you truly EXECUTED and planned (of course!) and really just made this happen. Honestly makes me feel like… wow I’m such a slacker. 😫 LOL. But seriously, watching you do this has been so inspiring. There are so many times that I “say” I want to stick to my gym routine or whatever but then “don’t feel like going” in the morning, or stay up too late and blow past my bedtime, etc etc. When it comes down to it, I create excuses and basically just have been lacking discipline. You don’t do that! Like, ever! And you have had this extreme consistency for MONTHS on end. It’s truly truly impressive and makes me want to do better!! I don’t doubt that you are inspiring many other readers, too. 🙂

    I can totally see the appeal in training so hard for something and I do remember the thrill of really “following the plan” from when I (briefly) used to run. I definitely think having a coach probably helps a ton, plus that social aspect, like you said, is key. You’ve got the perfect formula going! Anyway, I’m so so so excited for you and so proud and can’t wait to see what else you do with all of this!!!! CONGRATS!!!

  • Reply Lani Inlander May 26, 2024 at 10:59 am

    Take the “heroic” label and run with it! I agree with Kae. This is amazing on many fronts. One, you set a goal, made a plan to reach that goal (included a hiring a professional to help you!), and you met said goal. Two, you showed all of us over 40 not to give up on our physical fitness. Congratulations!!!

    • Reply JB May 27, 2024 at 7:49 pm

      Congratulations! You have inspired me that with some hard work and lots of miles, I can bust out a PR this fall (at 47 years old)! Really, really excellent work and you should be proud of yourself. You (and your coach) have probably figured this out, but if you turn 45 before race day in April 2025, do you get an additional 5 minutes (I don’t know when your birthday is, but I know the qualifying time is based on your age on race day, not the day you qualify, and I know you get more time after 45 years old)?

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 27, 2024 at 9:08 pm

        May bday here so doesn’t apply 🙂 I actually get 10 min w that jump! Unless they change it. But only for Boston 2026.

        • Reply JB May 28, 2024 at 11:33 am

          That makes sense! And yes, 10 minutes not 5 (3:40 to 3:50). I think you should have plenty of buffer with 5:00 minutes and no matter what, you have a BQ!

  • Reply Lisa’s Yarns May 26, 2024 at 11:54 am

    Congrats! You should be so proud of yourself. You worked hard and achieved an amazing goal. And what a power couple to both BQ by such a healthy margin! Kae and I were so annoyed that we couldn’t track you like so we’re thrilled to find you ran a 3:35!

    I learned something new in this post – I didn’t know you had hip issues and a labral tear! I had a labral tear, too, but mine was so bad that even walking was painful. I did several months of PT but ultimately needed to have the tear repaired. I am glad you could avoid surgery. It was a really hard recovery (I moved in with then bf/now husband 3 days before the surgery because I was planning to move in but expedited that plan when I found out I needed surgery so I would have his help – but talk about trial by fire!). So I am glad you didn’t have to have surgery and your hip doesn’t seem to bother you anymore!

  • Reply Anna May 26, 2024 at 11:59 am

    Congratulations! x

  • Reply Jacqui Seidman May 26, 2024 at 12:29 pm

    Congrats on such a great race! I traded places back and forth with you quite a bit through about mile 21 (I had an off- white tank, black shorts, and green ribbon in my hair) and you looked super strong and even! Also heard you cheer on Josh and respected how you got your gel wrappers into the garbage each time 😂 I would have said hello but was working too hard to talk. Glad you were acclimated to the humidity and temps, as a local Michigander I found the weather tough. Hope you enjoyed your time in TC!

    • Reply Marianne May 26, 2024 at 8:03 pm

      Loved reading this and I’m just thrilled for you, especially after the unwelcome setback.

  • Reply Gillian May 26, 2024 at 12:34 pm

    Congratulations, Sarah! That has to feel incredible.

  • Reply Patricia May 26, 2024 at 12:36 pm

    Congratulations Sarah! Seeing the notification yesterday morning of your finish time and knowing you met your goal of BQing made my day!

  • Reply Jacqui Seidman May 26, 2024 at 12:59 pm

    I don’t think my last comment published so resending. You and I traded places quite a bit during the race through 20 miles (I had an off white tank, black shorts, and a green hair ribbon) and you looked super strong and comfortable – congrats on such a great race! I wanted to say hello but was way too winded and working too hard to talk lol. I was also seriously impressed with how you got your gel wrappers into the garbages! Funny that you found the weather comfortable, as a Michigander I thought that humidity was tough! Hope you enjoyed your time in TC and congrats again!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 26, 2024 at 1:40 pm

      Jacqui!!!! Oh my goodness that was you!? You were running soooo strong. You must have finished just a few minutes ahead but I definitely could not keep up with you at the end!! You were seriously inspiring me bc you seemed at ease and I was trying to keep up w you!! So so funny. Weather is all relative I know, but if it bothered you you definitely didn’t show it!!!

    • Reply Sonna May 27, 2024 at 11:18 am

      Congrats Jacqui, awesome effort. Well done and have fun celebrating your achievement!

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam May 26, 2024 at 1:31 pm

    So awesome! Can’t wait to see what the next race goal will be… 🙂

    • Reply Caitlin May 27, 2024 at 6:27 pm

      Congratulations!!! That is amazing! I’m just getting back into running after kid #2 and I’m about halfway through Couch to 5k. I’m hoping to run a half marathon in the fall and a full marathon in about 18 months. It has been very inspiring to follow your journey!!

  • Reply Noemi May 26, 2024 at 1:38 pm

    Hooray!!!!! So thrilled for you both. What an incredible experience to meet that goal together the same race. I’m just over the moon for you.

    It’s been very inspiring to watch you come back from your set back and have such a great training experience. I’m so glad nothing cropped up (sickness, injury) to thwart your efforts. Just so, so awesome. I hope the amazing feeling lasts.

  • Reply Sophie May 26, 2024 at 1:48 pm

    Congratulations Sarah! I actually looked online to find how you went earlier and was so happy to see your time! What a journey, such planning, hard work and dedication, and how good is this outcome. And congrats to Josh too! Enjoy the achievement and you are definitely an inspiration to those of us also over 40 that ambitious fitness goals are still achievable! 🙂

  • Reply Sarah May 26, 2024 at 2:10 pm

    Congratulations Sarah!! This was so fun to read and encouraging too. My marathon PR is 3:48, set in 2011 when I was much younger lol. Two kids and multiple marathons later I’m not quite that fast at that distance but a BQ is still a goal. It’s great to see the long view of your story and imagine how it could be possible for me. Congrats again – so excited for you!

  • Reply Jenn N May 26, 2024 at 2:14 pm

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you. 🙂

  • Reply AnnaM May 26, 2024 at 2:23 pm

    Was so excited to see your race time come in, 3:35, I knew you’d love that! Congratulations!! -random longtime reader

  • Reply Elisabeth May 26, 2024 at 2:26 pm

    Yay, Sarah! Kae texted me your time so I learned your result yesterday and was pumped for you ALL DAY. What an awesome race. You worked so hard and so consistently in your training and trusted thr process; how wonderful it all worked out basically perfectly! And it’s extra fun you and Josh could run together and both crushed the current BQ qualification times.
    Congrats. You’ll remember this race forever, I’m sure!

  • Reply San May 26, 2024 at 2:42 pm

    Freakin’ fantastic, Sarah. HUGE congrats on your BQ. All your hard work paid off. I am so glad things well into place for you and you ran such a strong race…. and as I can see, you’re also a pretty much steady-pace runner (like me!).

  • Reply Lori C May 26, 2024 at 2:43 pm

    Amazing congrats!! And 9 out of 72 in your AG!!!!

  • Reply Erin May 26, 2024 at 3:02 pm

    Yayyyyy Sarah! Amazing run, amazing splits and amazing training block!!! Well done.

  • Reply Eva May 26, 2024 at 3:17 pm

    Congrats on the race and the BQ time! I’m so happy for you that you made your goal after all the hard work you’ve put in!

  • Reply IR May 26, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    Wow! This was so interesting to read and I’ve always wondered about the mile-by-mile breakdown of marathons from the runners’ perspective. If you run Boston in 2025 I will 100% come out and cheer for you!!

  • Reply Chelsea May 26, 2024 at 3:33 pm

    A huge congratulations, again! Maybe the Boston gods will smile on us, lol.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 26, 2024 at 5:50 pm

      Yes your buffer is similar I think! Well- 2026 is always an option. (If you’re my exact age at least we get more time!!)

  • Reply Elisabeth May 26, 2024 at 5:47 pm

    Congratulations to both of you!! I couldn’t wait to check race results yesterday and was very excited to see you both BQ’d. Such a dedicated training cycle you ran. Very inspiring!

  • Reply Sesb May 26, 2024 at 6:14 pm

    You make me want to say eff my job and go part time so I can really do something nice for myself. Congrats on your time! There’s a 35 mi ultramarathon in Pinkney (just outside of A2) if you’re looking for a new challenge!

  • Reply Savannah May 26, 2024 at 7:26 pm

    Congratulations!! The way you prioritized your training plan and executed on race day is truly inspiring and quite an accomplishment!! I hope you thoroughly pause to reflect and celebrate – you deserve it!

  • Reply Megan May 26, 2024 at 8:47 pm

    Congratulations, Sarah!!! Awesome job!!! You should be so proud! I’ve been following all of your training and I’m so happy that your hard work paid off!!! Amazing!

  • Reply JGold May 26, 2024 at 9:01 pm

    Congratulations! So great to follow your training and congrats on the excellent race !

  • Reply Emily May 26, 2024 at 10:19 pm

    Congratulations Sarah!! Similarly to a few of the above I did look forward to see your Strava to check in and was glad to see the outcome. Your BQ is totally deserved considering all of the effort and consistency you’ve put into your training. It’s been fun and inspiring to follow along.

  • Reply Nicole May 26, 2024 at 10:48 pm

    I am SO impressed, CONGRATS!!!! Those are like, high school me paces 😂 WAY TO GO! You worked so hard for that and you did it!! Definitely inspiring (especially at a few months postpartum over here). Thanks for taking us along on your journey!

  • Reply coreebrownswan May 27, 2024 at 3:13 am

    That’s incredible Sarah! Well done!

    • Reply Miriam May 27, 2024 at 7:01 am

      You did it! Tears!

  • Reply Miriam Dineen May 27, 2024 at 7:00 am

    You did it! Tears!!!

  • Reply Doris May 27, 2024 at 7:41 am

    Congrats! So impressed and well deserved. I’m so pleased that you ran so well, but I’m also super impressed with the dedicated and steady training in the FL weather.

  • Reply visiblevendor May 27, 2024 at 7:43 am

    I am SO happy for you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply jennystancampiano May 27, 2024 at 8:30 am

    OMG CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! I was pretty sure this would be the outcome, based on your training- but you never really know. Marathons are hard and anything can happen. I especially loved hearing the backstory. Sometimes people think “oh, she’s just naturally a fast runner” but anyone can get faster than they are, if they’re willing to put in the training. I hope you’re feeling good today (are you sore???) and I can’t wait to hear what’s next!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 27, 2024 at 9:36 am

      I AM SO SORE!!! JENNY – where is your race report, I keep refreshing! And how are you feeling today!?

  • Reply Emily May 27, 2024 at 8:53 am

    Congratulations, Sarah!! It’s been inspiring to watch you set a goal and work so hard to meet it!

  • Reply Ida May 27, 2024 at 9:11 am

    congratulations!! training in FL while working and being a mom is no easy task. I wish Boston weren’t a moving target. Fingers crossed that you and Josh get to experience it next spring!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 27, 2024 at 9:44 am

      we are okay if not 🙂 this was definitely not my last marathon!

  • Reply Marie May 27, 2024 at 10:42 am

    Congratulations!!! Love to hear the passion for your running life!

  • Reply Nandi Siegfried May 27, 2024 at 10:45 am

    So delighted for you!!

  • Reply Sonna May 27, 2024 at 11:15 am

    Well done Sarah! What an awesome feat. Such a stellar performance in spite of all the challenges during training. And what integrity that you made a deliberate effort to drop your wrappers in the bin. Congrats, hope you have fun celebrating 🥳

  • Reply Diana May 27, 2024 at 11:19 am

    I’m so happy for you!! Huge congrats! Your journey has been inspiring!

  • Reply Melinda May 27, 2024 at 12:54 pm

    Congratulations, Sarah! I have loved reading about your training and am so excited that you had a great race. So inspiring!

  • Reply Christine May 27, 2024 at 2:42 pm

    Congratulations!! What a great race! Your dedicated and smart training paid off. So happy for you!

  • Reply Meghan May 27, 2024 at 2:45 pm

    Congratulations! So excited or you (and inspired by your training!)! I’m glad you liked Bayshore and TC!

  • Reply coco May 27, 2024 at 5:22 pm

    What an outstanding performance!!!! It’s so great that you had this experience with Josh, it made me extra special no? and you both BQed and enjoyed the experience. Amazing!!! BIG BIG BIG congrats!

  • Reply Sarah Price May 27, 2024 at 10:03 pm

    Congratulations Sarah!! I have followed your progress (and the injury setback) and I am so happy for you. What an accomplishment! Congratulations to you and Josh. Hope you get a few rest days.

  • Reply Jordan May 27, 2024 at 10:54 pm

    Congrats Sarah! So happy for you — and inspired 🙂 Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

  • Reply Jewel May 27, 2024 at 11:03 pm

    Wow, Sarah! Congratulations! I put my daughter to bed and thought I’d check in and see how your race went (while I munch on chips no less). It must be super satisfying to see the fruit of your labor that has been years in the making. You truly live by your advice to all of us in regards to planning, that much is true. You should feel so damn proud of yourself. You’ve earned this moment and I can’t wait to see what else you have planned. I guess I’ll get up off this couch and turn on my Peloton now! Thanks for inspiring us women! You rock!

  • Reply Elizabeth May 27, 2024 at 11:24 pm

    Such fantastic news! I loved this race report and also cheered when I saw your time on Saturday. YOU DID IT!!!! Huge congratulations on a job well done. And while it’s true that the training is its own reward—what a huge boost and relief to have also had it pay off on race day. So happy for you.

  • Reply Amanda May 28, 2024 at 8:16 am

    Congratulations Sarah!! Thrilled for you, this is awesome. Thanks for the very interesting recap also. Glad you had a great experience in Traverse City!!

  • Reply AM May 28, 2024 at 8:37 am

    Congratulations, Sarah!! Thank you for taking us on this journey with you. How thrilling that you made your goal!

  • Reply Erika May 28, 2024 at 9:01 am

    Congratulations! An inspiration to us all!

  • Reply Kathy Johnson May 28, 2024 at 9:56 am

    Congratulations! I SO much enjoyed reading about your training and race, even though I have no desire to run a marathon EVER. I think it’s inspiring to hear about other people’s big goals and how they break them down–you are one of the people I turn to for that inspiration. Just so happy for you and appreciate your taking us all along for the ride.

  • Reply Lisa May 28, 2024 at 10:35 am

    Congratulations Sarah! What an accomplishment! There’s nothing quite like finishing a marathon…except finishing a marathon AND qualifying for Boston! It’s wonderful to see your hard work pay off as we’ve all been cheering you on. Time to celebrate!!!

  • Reply Joy May 28, 2024 at 12:45 pm

    Congratulations! I am so excited for you and inspired by your hard work and perseverance.

  • Reply Heather B May 28, 2024 at 12:57 pm

    Congratulations! So happy you met your race goal! I’m not a runner but have found it interesting to follow your training journey.

  • Reply Sasha May 28, 2024 at 5:01 pm

    Congratulations Sarah! Admittedly I’m not a runner so have skipped most of the recent posts around training, but am very proud of you for your achievement!

  • Reply Happy Things Friday: 31 May - The Optimistic Musings of a Pessimist May 31, 2024 at 1:03 am

    […] put up an AMAZING time at the Bayshore marathon last Saturday! She’s been so dedicated following her training plan and it was truly […]

  • Reply Nola May 31, 2024 at 7:58 am

    Congrats!! Way to go! I dont run, but I occasionally think about trying. Thanks for sharing!

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