Road to the Boston Marathon- Entry #1


Entry #1: Mapping Out the Course
By: Noah Mark Bitney

“Winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.”

— Meb Keflezighi

“Getting the best out of yourself.” Since I began my running journey that has always meant getting to the Boston Marathon — the most well-known, exclusive, and desired of all races for runners! The fact that you have to qualify to run it is exciting and difficult enough, but even if you qualify that doesn’t even mean you will necessarily get in. Due to field size limitations, you usually have to be several minutes faster than your qualifying time. 2020’s “Cut-Off Time” was 1:39 below your qualifying standard with the biggest field size they have ever allowed with 31,500 runners!  BUT, of course, COVID happen and so in 2021 they had a 20,000-runner field size, and the “Cut-Off Time” was 7:47 below your qualifying standard.

This won’t stop me however . . . I’m FINALLY coming after you Boston Marathon, and Grandma’s Marathon, you are going to get me there!

Hello Grandma’s Runners, my name is Noah Mark Bitney. I’m one of the Grambassador’s for Grandma’s Marathon 2022, and I’m what I like to call “your everyday runner!” What I mean by this is that I’m nothing special when it comes to running. I work a full-time job as a Store Leader of Kwik Trip, I have a beautiful wife, and an adorable 10-month old son at home. Running used to be a hobby for me, but over the last few years, I’ve turned it more into part of my everyday life. It is who I am, it’s a part of me, and I will do it until I’m unable to do it no more.

My running journey began way back in 2015 with the Eau Claire Half Marathon after spending all of 2014 making some good lifestyle changes. I’ve run four marathons, and four half marathons since that first race all that time ago. Since I began running, I’ve always had Boston Marathon in the back of my mind, but now I’m heading for it and giving it my 150% effort!

As a Grambassador, I would love to take you along my journey of my attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon at next year’s Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota! So, starting off I want to show you my “map” or plan for what the next 8+ months are going to entail.

Mile 1: Build Up Weekly Mileage

I’ve done a lot of research, and asked a lot of runners who’ve run Boston before on how they got to Boston. The best and most frequent piece of advice I got was to build up your weekly mileage, or simply put run . . . A LOT! So, starting off I’m going to take 18 weeks to build up to 60 miles a week! Then I will get into the real training after those 18 Weeks, where I will focus on more than just mileage.

Mile 2: Speed, Interval, and Long Runs

As I train, I also need to work on my speed. Once a week I will do a speed run (run at a faster pace), interval run (faster at a distance, then slower for a distance, for a specific mileage), and then of course my long runs. My long runs are to happen on Saturdays as race day is going to be on a Saturday, June 18th, 2022. Slowly, as I build my mileage up, I will build my speed. My race day goal is to cross that finish line in under 2:51:30!

Mile 3: Nutrition & Fuel for Runs

Probably one of the biggest challenges that faces me ahead is eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet. I will be the first to admit I’m a VERY picky eater and find it hard to eat a nutrient-rich diet. I love food, and I love my sweets. However, if I want to get the most from my training and have the best chance at qualifying come June, I need to figure out how I can best fuel myself for my runs. This will include tracking my meals, snacks, and practicing different foods before runs. This will be a real challenge but I’m up for it, and so any tips I will gladly take because I’m going to need all the help I can get here.

Mile 4: Strength & Mobility Training

My next biggest challenge is staying consistent with my strength and mobility training. This is key to marathon training to not only make myself a stronger runner but to avoid injury which could put me not only weeks but possibly months behind. The plan I have heard is to incorporate one “leg day” training a week, one Yoga Class a week (at minimum), and finally to make sure I stretch every day. . . including my rest days. Hips, legs, and core training are all really important to prevent running injuries as I put on that high mileage.

Mile 5: Track & Share my Progress

Finally, I’m going to start using a running journal to track how I feel after my runs, what I did and didn’t do correctly, pre/post-run routine, any strength training I did, stretch (did I do it?), and what I think I could do better on next time. Along with tracking my runs, I want to share my journey every step of the way. My main platform is on Instagram and you can follow me (@noahmarkbitney) as I share my road to Boston. I hope to also keep going with this blog as I work towards Grandma’s Marathon and that Boston dream!

These are my “Five Key Miles” (steps) to getting ready for Grandma’s Marathon and that Boston qualifying time. This is my plan to build myself up for the real training, which will begin in February! How about you? What are your goals for Grandma’s Marathon next year? Do you have a plan to get the best out of yourself? Let us know!

Noah Bitney

Noah is one of our Offical Grambassadors for the 2022 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend. Meet the rest of the ambassadors here.

Follow HimInstagramTwitter

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Running this past summer, where I was able to redeem myself on the Grandma’s Marathon course after an injury in my first Marathon here. Not only did I outperform my previous 4:09:52 Course Record, but I smashed my PR by 18 minutes at Grandma’s this year! It was my first real race post-Covid, and it was such a great experience to get back out there racing again! 

Favorite Non-Grandma’s Event: Eau Claire Marathon #RunEC! I’m also an ambassador, and now a committee member for that race organization. 

Go to post-race beverage: CHOCOLATE MILK!!! 

2022 Running Goal: To FINALLY qualify for the Boston Marathon. I’ve got a long winter ahead, and it’s time to get myself into shape! 

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2 thoughts on “Road to the Boston Marathon- Entry #1

  1. Noah,

    Best wishes on your 2022 journey. Having a long-term plan is great and give yourself short-term flexibility.

    If injuries pop up again, you can still reach your goal depending on the injury.

    I’m a 2:49 marathoner at 56 yo. I’m available if you want to talk.

    1. Hey Kevin Zanker,

      What are your top recommendations for reaching a sub-3-hour marathon?

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