This week we are meeting Jessica (@sugarruns) as she prepares for her first appearance at the 2017 Boston Marathon. Jessica is a runner who started off with the half-marathon distance for years before she doubled that and took on a marathon. She’s been on fire ever since!! I hope you enjoy reading her story and following her journey to Boston.
Hi Jessica, tell us about yourself.
My name is Jessica Rinehart. I’m 31 years old and live in Long Beach, CA. I’m an insurance broker (full time job) and a run coach and blogger on the side. I started my blog to document my training for my first marathon in 2014 and fell so in love with the running community I met through Instagram and locally through my run clubs. I loved sharing my passion for running and decided to get RRCA certified in July 2016 so I could help others reach their running goals.
When did you start running and how many marathons have you run?
I started running about 8 years ago and primarily focused on half marathons. The distance was manageable for my life and the marathon distance scared me. I was pretty decent at halfs, finishing my first in 1:45 with no real knowledge of pacing or anything like that. I never really got out of that finish time range with halfs because I was mostly doing it to stay in shape and have fun.
I was 29 and had “Run a Marathon” on my bucket list to try to do before I turned 30. I signed up for Big Sur because it gave me enough time to train and was 2 weeks before my 30th birthday. I definitely made the mistake there because while Big Sur is a breathtaking course, its without a doubt one of the most challenging with the hills and headwinds. I learned that I was anemic during my training – I was exhausted all the time and eventually felt like I couldn’t keep going on with my training because I had such a hard time getting oxygen to my muscles. Once I went to the doctor and found out, iron supplements improved my running tremendously.
I ran 6 marathons in 18 months. I started with Big Sur in April 2014 and just recently finished Chicago in October 2016. Big Sur was a surprisingly good finish of 3:48. I then ran Portland Marathon 6 months later with a 3:37 (so close). Just 7 weeks later I raced CIM and qualified with a huge PR of 3:25. So, I qualified 8 months after running my first marathon.
Compare a typical week of running when you first started out to now.
When I first started running it was about 4 days/week for about 2-3 hours/week. I used a training plan I found online and never knew my paces and only estimated miles based on Map My Run.
Now I train 6-7 days/week for about 7-8 hours/week. This doesn’t include all of the additional things I do outside of running miles to take care of my body (chiropractic work, massages 1 x/week, foam rolling, strength training, cross training, stretching, etc.). I’d say I spend about 10-11 hours/week training. It’s so hard, but the joy I get from running and succeeding at my goals because of this time commitment is much more rewarding.
Compare your experience at your very first marathon to your Boston Qualifying race.
In my first training cycle, I went up to 22 miles. I don’t know many recreational runners who run a 26+ mile run during their training. So, you go into the race thinking, “I’ve never actually run 26.2 miles.” Fear creeped in a lot during the race. I waited to hit the wall and when it came (at mile 22), I felt like quitting. Finishing that first race is like no other though. I teared up seeing the finish and knowing what my body just accomplished. It’s very emotional. I wasn’t worried about time – I was overjoyed with what you’ve done.
The Boston Qualifying race experience was similar to my first marathon. I will never get that experience again. I turned the corner to see the CIM finish line and teared up seeing the clock well below what I needed it to be. Nothing will ever compare to that. I’m an emotional runner.
At what point did you think, “I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon!”?
When I went into Big Sur, my goal was to finish under 4:00, which I thought was lofty given the course and I had no idea what I was doing. When I came in at 3:48, I thought, “Give me a good course, and I will qualify. I just need to cut 13-14 minutes off my time” It was an immediate obsession after that.
What do you think helped you qualify for the Boston Marathon?
Consistency and diligence. I had a huge goal and nothing was going to stand in my way. Dedication is key. Qualifying for Boston is hard. I’m glad I made the sacrifices I did to get there and don’t regret any of it.
Any advice for someone who wants to qualify for the Boston Marathon?
Don’t give up. It is so easy to get discouraged with the marathon. You spend months training and it doesn’t pay off sometimes on race day. Maybe reassess your goals. After qualifying for Boston, I ran 2 more marathons with the same finish time. I thought – “well, maybe that’s as good as I’ll ever be. I’m just a 3:25 marathoner.” I finally changed up my nutrition and started seeing a chiropractor weekly and hit my goal of a 3:20 at Chicago. Don’t give up on your dreams, but maybe try to figure out what you could be doing differently to get better if you feel stuck.
Do you have any goals for the 2017 Boston Marathon?
Yes! I’d love to run a 3:15 at Boston, but more importantly, my goal is to have a strong race.
I hope you reach your goal, Jessica, and have the best experience in Boston. Although your CIM finish will be hard to beat. Thank you for sharing in your victories and what it took to make it to that Boston starting line.