On the Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards Debacle

The little blue-and-golden tickets that get a runner into the world’s most famous marathon just became a lot harder to come by.

I first heard it from Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point.  Having had my head in the sand for the past few weeks, my first thought was that it was an early April Fool’s joke (which actually happened last year when someone set up a fake Boston Athletic Association page announcing new qualifying times).

These suckers just became a whole lot more valuable.

But a look at the real BAA page confirmed it: Across the board, qualifying times for the 2013 Boston Marathon have officially been lowered by 5 minutes and 59 seconds.

The worst part

They had to do something.  Registration for this year’s race was open for all of eight hours before the race filled.  (I set about 30 alarms to make sure I didn’t miss it, and I was lucky enough to get a spot.)

The natural response, of course, is to make it harder to qualify.  I get that.  Amby Burfoot, who has a great article about why he doesn’t like the new requirements, cites an estimate that the new requirements will lower the number of qualifiers from about 57,000 down to 41,000.  (Thanks to Tim from Midpack Runner for pointing me to this article.)

Mission mostly accomplished.  But here’s what I hate about it.

Since this won’t completely alleviate the problem of too many people trying to register for too few spots, the BAA went one step further: Registration will now take place on a rolling basis, so that the fastest qualifiers in each group will have the chance to register first.  Only after they’ve had their chance will slower qualifiers be able to register, if spots remain open.

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Are You One of These 4 Insanely Irritating Runners?

As far as people watching goes, race day is one of the few things that rivals a trip to Walmart. There are so many different types of runners, it’s an endless parade of entertainment!

With the good, we also must take the bad. In running as in real life, we sometimes encounter people who are absolute tools.

Are you one of these? If so, knock it the <bleep> off. You’re not making any friends.

The Showoff

We’ve all seen them: Runners who wear a finisher’s shirt from an ultramarathon or Ironman triathlon to a 5K.

Apparently, we’re supposed to be impressed that someone of such high and lofty status is gracing a meager little distance. Bonus tool-itude points if they’re wearing compression to a short-distance race, or if they brag about the shorter race being their “cooldown” from their intense workout earlier that morning.

Don’t Be a Tool:

When I first started running, one of my mentors told me something very, very important about race-day wear: Never dress more than one step up from your event. If you’re running a 5K, don’t wear a finisher’s shirt advertising anything more than a 10K. For 10K, the cut-off is a half-marathon. Catch my drift?

The iRunner

Someone recently told me about a guy who runs marathons while live-streaming the experience through Skype, Twitter, iPhone cameras…I had to jump online immediately to find out more!

Now, dear reader…I’m not one to judge people based on the first time I see them, but when this man’s picture popped up on my computer screen, I instantly labeled him the King of the Tools and wished I could dump a bucket of water over his head.

For something as beautifully simple as running, lately I’ve been seeing an influx of technology during races. People stop in the middle of the pack to take pictures of themselves with their digital cameras to upload on Facebook later. They type up a quick message on their Blackberry at mile 16, because the Twitterverse needs to know how much “my legs feel lk 2 tree trnks. LOL.” Even during my Ironman, I passed an athlete who was walking and talking on his cell phone. During the race.

Don’t be a Tool:

Sure, we’re a wired society. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

Running is a great thing — your body is accomplishing something amazing! Rather than be distracted by all your technology, soak in the experience of your race. Stopping in the middle of a race to take a photo or shoot off a text is not only distracting you from the true race experience, it’s dangerous to the runners behind you who are moving forward when you’re -ahem- not. During your race, delegate the photo-taking-Twitter-updating role to one of your spectathletes.

The Stopwatch

This past December, after two years of trying, I finally achieved my goal of a sub-2-hour half-marathon. Race after race, I was turning in 2:01 and 2:02 times, so to finally get a 1:58 PR was amazing! Nothing could have made me upset. Nothing!

Until the next day.

I was talking with a fellow runner who asked me how the race went. My chest swelling with pride, I gave him my 1:58 time.

“Really?” he asked.

I smiled. “Bet you didn’t think I was capable of it, huh?”

He scratched his head in confusion. With absolute seriousness, he clarified: “Huh. I guess I thought since you did the triathlon and Ironman stuff that you’d actually be, like, faster.”

I think he then proceeded to tell me all about how his first half-marathon (when he was 300 pounds and just starting out as a runner) was actually a 1:50, but I’m not sure. I couldn’t hear much of what he was saying over the sound of my deflating ego.

Don’t be a Tool:

Whether someone’s a 3-hour or 6-hour marathoner, they’re still a marathoner. Whether someone runs a 5K in 18 minutes or 40 minutes, they’re still a runner. You are not allowed to ask “Hey, how’d your race go?” as a way to open the door to brag about yourself. Let them have the spotlight! Give ’em a high five, smile, and shut up. It’s their moment.

The Bandit

Bandits are building up bad, bad, BAD running karma.

These racers, who participate in the race without paying for it, are stealing. There’s no way to sugarcoat it…it’s theft, pure and simple. Sure, it may seem harmless — the race is already crowded, so what’s one more person? The water’s already there, so who’s going to miss just one cup?

When you bandit, though, you’re taking away from those who have paid for the experience. The people who have signed up for the race have paid for the barricades and police to block off the road, the supplies at the aid station, insurance for the event, and the support in the days, weeks, and months leading up to the race.

Don’t Be a Tool:

If you want to race, pay for it. If you just want to run, then run somewhere else. If you seriously think you’re justified because you can bandit because no one will know, just remember the definition of the word “integrity” — it’s doing the right thing when no one is looking.

Penance for Tool-itude:

If you’re guilty of the above crimes, all is not lost.  You can absolve yourself if you promise to change your ways.  Just say ten “Scott Jureks,” and leave a bowl of chia seeds on the altar of the Endurance Gods. See you at the races!


Susan Lacke enjoys a good avocado. When she isn’t writing for No Meat Athlete, she’s spewing the gospel of running and triathlon for Competitor Magazine and its sister website, Competitor.com. If you see her, please approach slowly and use caution — she’s been known to head-butt when she feels threatened. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke



The Fight Club Method of Achieving Your Goals

Remember that scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden holds a gun to the head of the guy working in the convenience store?

Tyler asks the terrified guy (Raymond) what he studied in college. When Raymond admits he wanted to become a veterinarian, Tyler tells him that if in three weeks he isn’t well on his way to becoming a veterinarian, he’ll find him and kill him.

After Raymond agrees, Tyler lets him go and says:

“Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted.”

Willpower is often not enough

I consider myself pretty good at sticking with the commitments I make to myself.  I’ve written about the Boston qualifying thing plenty, as that’s the goal I’m probably most proud of achieving because of how much work it took.

And yet, for all of that willpower (if that’s what it was), I’ve not been able to give up coffee for more than about a month at a time.  And I have a horrible habit of chewing around my fingernails that is seemingly impervious to any lame attempt I can make to stop it.

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The Newcomer’s Guide to No Meat Athlete

As bloggers have started to publish reviews of my new ebook, Marathon Roadmap, lots of new people are showing up to check out No Meat Athlete.

And even those of you who have been around for a while probably weren’t here at the beginning, and therefore missed the rare gold nugget to be panned in the river of suck that was this blog when it started. (Most blogs aren’t very good when they start, so I’m okay with that.)  And there’s probably some stuff you didn’t know…like that I still ate fish when I started this site (and even posted a few fish recipes!).

So for those reasons, and because my brain is trans-fat deep-fried right now from doing everything it took to get this book finished and launched, I decided that a little tour was in order.

Enjoy.  Take your time with this one.

The ‘In’ Crowd

The posts below are the most popular posts that all the other posts wish they could sleep with.  Popularity here is judged by traffic, comments, and social media sharing.  (There’s a little bit of a recency bias, since as the site has gotten bigger it’s been easier to get traffic.)

Really Useful Stuff

Lots of “how-to’s” and other practical or list posts.  Most of these are about running, but there are a few others mixed in here.

Resource Pages

For posts that fit nicely together and make up a series, I’ve grouped them on individual pages.  Qualifying for Boston was an obsession of mine back when I started this site; check out that one first if you’ve ever thought about it for yourself.

Race Recaps

I try not to write too many race recaps, mainly because they’re boring unless the writer is great or the race is really interesting.  Since this writer ain’t yet great, I’ve included only the recaps of races and distances that you might find cool or inspiring.

Experiments and Crazy Stuff I’ve Done

By nature, I am a skeptic.  Especially about things related to health.  But one thing I’m proud of is that before I make up my mind about whether something controversial is terrible or dumb or awesome, I try it myself.  Here are a few posts about things like that, plus an April Fool’s joke that didn’t fit in anywhere else.

Motivational Crap and Personal Stuff from the Early Days

Remember those elusive gold nuggets I talked about?  Well, here are a few of them, along with some fool’s gold mixed in.  Most of this is from 2009, when I had no clue what I was doing.  But in the same way that a monkey banging on a typewriter for all eternity will eventually produce Hamlet, so I produced some not completely terrible blog posts.

Hope this has helped you get acquainted with the site!  For more, check out the About page, and don’t forget to subscribe to get post updates and to the email newsletter.   See you around!



Vegetarians Don’t Use Knives

Well, at least not very often.  Let me elaborate.

Today I wrote an email, to people who had signed up on a list, to let them know that today was the last day to get the best deal on Marathon Roadmap.  I was explaining how the big, sleazy internet marketing gurus tell you to “twist the knife” on the last day of a sale, so that people are encouraged to buy, for fear of feeling bad later on if they don’t.

Obviously, that’d be pretty creepy.  I’m sure that doing that would not only hurt sales; it would totally clash with the message I try to send here — that “vegetarian” should be friendly, non-pushy, and non-preachy.  (And, at least the way I see it, that’s the way offering stuff up for sale should be, too.)

So I made a little joke that I wouldn’t be twisting any knife, since vegetarians don’t really use knives anyway.  And then that image struck me as a pretty neat little metaphor for what this lifestyle is about.

What do you mean, vegetarians don’t use knives?

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Presenting the No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap

Finally!  Whew…

Months in the making, the No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap: The Vegetarian Guide to Conquering Your First 26.2 is now available for download.  You can click here to learn more about it.

I’m really excited to let you know I’ve been adding more and more content to this thing.  The ebook is 138 pages long, and includes four hours of MP3 interviews with six incredible and extremely knowledgeable vegan and vegetarian endurance athletes, including Brendan Brazier, Rich Roll, and some pretty amazing others as well.

There’s a training plan, a sample meal plan, recipes… and another 100 pages of who-knows-what!  I’ve worked my butt off putting this whole thing together, and I’m so proud of how it turned out.  Come to think of it, I’ve sort of worked my butt back on, seeing as it has kept me from running for about two weeks. 🙂

Anyway, the rest of this week is sort of the “NMA-reader only” launch.  If you get it before Friday at midnight (Eastern), you’ll get some very special free bonuses, including Fuel Your Run the Tarahumara Way, the e-cookbook I put together with my vegan-baker sister last summer.  It’s also available at a much lower price than it will be after this.

I’m hoping that by doing this, it’ll get out to a lot of you who can help me out with a few nice words about the book that I can add to the sales page for when it’s promoted to readers of other sites.

After Friday, I’ll take the page down for a little while, and bring it back next week while the book is being promoted elsewhere (with a higher price) for the week.  And then after that, the bonuses will go away and the price will go up again.

So, moral of the story… if you’d like to run your first marathon this year and do it on a plant-based diet, and you think the Marathon Roadmap is for you, get it before Friday, so that you’ll get the great price and some sweet bonuses.  Click here to check it out.

And please…let me know what you think!  I’m really confident you’ll be as thrilled with this as I am.



Vegan Ultraman Rich Roll on How to Avoid First-Marathon Mistakes

Yesterday, I talked to Rich Roll, the well-known vegan Ultraman competitor (that’s a double Ironman over the course of 3 days) who is also the author of Jai Seed, a fantastic cookbook I reviewed a few months ago.

Rich was very generous to sit down and record a 40-minute interview with me, aimed at helping out the first-time marathoner and/or new vegetarian.

The full interview, along with five others with some pretty amazing vegan and vegetarian endurance athletes including Brendan Brazier, will is included as part of the Marathon Roadmap: The Vegetarian Guide to Conquering Your First 26.2.

Here’s a sample of our interview, where Rich talks about his first marathon, which sounds a lot like mine (i.e., lots of walking after Mile 18!).  He also talks a bit about the importance of following a program or working with a coach, and at length about training in the crucial zone that teaches your body to burn fat instead of sugar and go (in Rich’s case) for days.

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Enjoy the interview!



From Couches and Cupcakes to ‘Competitor’

It was one year ago that I started writing for No Meat Athlete.

One year ago, Matt called me inspirational and I accused him of being high. Obviously, hindsight being what it is, I realize could have handled that interaction with my future boss a little bit better.

Though Matt wouldn’t let me title this post with anything which may imply any impropriety of any sort, I’m going to say it anyway:

I’m glad Matt Frazier was high.

When Matt invited me to write that first post, it set off an amazing series of events. Over the last year, I’ve been allowed to come back to No Meat Athlete again and again to share information about the highs, the lows, and the just plain hysterical of running and triathlon. You read the ramblings of this No-Talent Ass Clown (my unofficial title on the site) and decided they didn’t suck…that much. For that, I thank you, even though I sometimes wonder if Matt’s been putting psychedelics in the No Meat Athlete shirts to make you high, too.

You, readers, are some of the loveliest, smartest, funniest, and most amazing people on the face of the planet. For all the shared jokes, genuine compliments, and acceptance of my addiction to spandex and cupcakes, I’m forever enamored with all of you. It’s for this reason that I’m sharing my big news here first:

I’m pregnant…

…with a food baby! PSYCH! (Please excuse me for a second while I apologize to my mother for exploiting her desire for grandchildren in the name of humor…)

Okay, seriously.

Here’s the big news:

I’m going to be writing for Competitor Magazine!

No…REALLY! You can quit laughing now. I’m really going to be writing for Competitor. They’re doing a re-vamp of the magazine and website, complete with big names like Ryan Hall, Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor…and some No-Talent Ass Clown named Susan Lacke is their new humor columnist.

If you still think I’m joking, check out my first column. See?

And yes, I insulted my new boss by calling him a freakin’ schmuck in my first post. I guess some lessons are harder to learn than others. At least I didn’t say he was high.

Don’t worry, Lovely NMAs — I’m not leaving you! As long as you’ll still have me, Matt’s letting me keep my title as NMA’s Resident Triathlete. You’ll still be getting my ramblings on this site once a month. In between NMA postings, I’d love to have you join me on Thursdays at Competitor.com and every month in the print magazine. I’ll also be guest-posting on other sites whenever the opportunity presents itself.

So Much Can Change in a Year

I feel so lucky to have gotten to be a part of your lives for the last year. Every day, I wake up and pinch myself: Stuff like this doesn’t happen to people like me! I still feel like it’s some sort of cosmic mistake, like the Universe is going to knock on my door one day and say,”Sorry, we meant to give this amazing life to someone else. We’ll be taking that back. Here…have a Slim Jim and some Doritos instead.”

Yes, even the Universe is high.


I thank Matt for giving me my start as a writer and for putting up with my endless BS with more patience, understanding, and constructive criticism than Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, and all the world’s Kindergarten teachers combined. I thank my running and triathlon buddies for letting me recruit them into helping me test products or write articles to share with you. I thank my friends and family for actually admitting they know me when we’re out in public, even during those times I sweat profusely while wearing spandex.

Most importantly, I thank you, NMAs. As one (very small) token of my thanks, I’m offering a one-year subscription to Competitor Magazine to a lucky reader! To win, help me spread the word about my new column: Share my first post with Competitor.com on your Twitter or Facebook, then come back here and let me know you shared it. Yes, the honor system applies — given how awesome you’ve been over the past year, I trust you.

If I could wrap my arms around each of you and squeeze the (vegan) stuffing out of you, I would. You’ve made this past year incredible — I can’t wait to see what the next year’s got in store. I’m hoping for lots of health, laughter, and running carrots.

About the Author: Susan Lacke serves as No Meat Athlete’s Resident Triathlete. When she’s not swimming, cycling, or running, she can usually be found tripping over nonexistent obstacles or face-down in a plate full of cupcakes. Susan often lays awake at night trying to think of ways to make you laugh in 140 characters or less on Twitter: @Susan Lacke.