Romayn Richards got a BQ in his first marathon attempt but learned a lot along the way…

I completed my first ever half marathon on 09/19/2020, with an unofficial time of 1:26:43 (per Garmin), and instantly decided I wanted to try running a full marathon.

I figured if I was going to run a marathon, why not sign up for a Boston Qualifier (BQ) marathon, just in case I’m able to achieve my age group’s qualifying time of 3:00:00. I knew from the beginning this was going to be a long shot, but I had to have something to aim for. 

Initially, I signed up for the Millinocket Marathon (in Maine), scheduled for early December. This gave me a little over 12 weeks to prepare. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled and the only remaining BQ marathon in all of New England for 2020 was the Manchester City Marathon (in New Hampshire), on November 8th, which gave me exactly 7 weeks to prepare.

Coincidentally, a guy I occasionally road bike with owned a copy of Daniels’ Running Formula (2nd edition). He offered me the book after I mentioned wanting to run a marathon. I not only read the entire book, but I ordered and read the entire 3rd edition; all within a week timeframe! (Thank you, Amazon!)

I then reached out to Run SMART for help with preparing for my first marathon in the small amount of time I had. Thankfully, they quickly responded and provided me with a very simple training schedule for the 6 weeks I had before the marathon.  

3…2…1… GO!

The first 15 miles felt absolutely perfect.  I held a 6:21/mile pace (WAY TOO FAST), and I had no doubt in my mind I would finish in under 3:00:00. But after mile 15, things began going south very quickly. My legs were fried, my form began failing, my breathing was sporadic, and my running form no longer felt fluid. I’d be lying if I said the thought of quitting never crossed my mind during the last 11.2 miles. 

Fast forward to the end: my final 3 miles were all over 8:00/mile, and I practically stumbled across the finish line. My wife told me that when my father saw me approaching the finish line he asked “Why isn’t he running?”

Thankfully, I officially finished the marathon in 2:58:20. I will not attempt to sugarcoat anything… This was hands down the most physically and mentally challenging event I’ve ever experienced. I obviously dug myself a hole early on by trying to hold a unrealistic pace, and I spent the final 11.2 miles paying for it!

Looking back on it, I would not advise anyone to attempt to prepare for a marathon in 7 weeks… It’s now almost 72 hours after the marathon and still barely able to walk. I have a peroneal tendon injury on my right foot that’ll likely take a few weeks to heal, both quadriceps still hurt to touch (let alone stretch), and I have nasty blisters covering the entire tip of three of my toes. 

But now that I have my first marathon under my belt, I would like to reach out to Run SMART for a proper training plan, seeing how I have adequate time before my next scheduled marathon (18-24 weeks), which is tentatively scheduled from early May 2021.

I cannot thank Jack and the entire Run SMART team enough for all their help!