Lora Fox, mother of 3, recently qualified for the Boston Marathon with a 3:49 time. I asked her to take a few moments to answer a few questions regarding her training and racing.

Name: Lora Barkenbus Fox

Race: Charlotte’s Thunder Road Marathon December 11, 2010

Result: personal best and Boston marathon qualifying time of 3:49:04

Why did you select this race and what was your goal?

I had not run a marathon since 2003. Since that time I have given birth to three children. I decided to do a marathon this year to celebrate my fortieth birthday. My original plan was to run it in four hours. A co-worker insisted that sub-four was a realistic and better goal. I then learned that for my age, I could qualify for the Boston marathon if I finished in 3 hours and 50 minutes. So I made that my goal. I selected Charlotte only because my brother and his family live there. I knew nothing about the course.

Describe race day—the conditions, your routine, the terrain?

Race morning was fairly cold. Luckily, the start of the marathon is very close to the downtown convention center. Before the race I stayed in the nicely heated convention center – doing dynamic stretching, taking in liquids, people watching, and enjoying the indoor plumbing.

The race had about 9,000 people participating, most of whom were only running the 5K or half marathon portion. There were no corrals so the start was a bit disorganized. I reached the starting line about 1.5 minutes after the starting gun.

The terrain was “rolling” – not too hilly, not too flat. The course is a bit like the Music City Marathon – lovely old neighborhoods with lots of cheering for the first half, then more industrial and artsy areas for the second half. The art district neighborhood “No Da” did a good job cheering – someone even set up a large cardboard wall, painted to look like bricks, with a doorway through the middle. It was fun to have crowds cheering for us runners to “break through the wall.”

As always, having family to be on the lookout for during the race made the whole thing more fun. My dad was at mile 8, 14, 20 and the finish. My husband brought the kids to mile 12 and the finish. My brother jumped in at mile 14 and ran the rest of the race with me. He was a great help and made me laugh by jumping up and down when people cheered for us. I told him “I hope you can live with yourself” because he was giving those people the impression that he was running the whole marathon and was fresh as a daisy.

In training, what was the best piece of advice you were given?

Take advantage of the downhills. Hustling downhill doesn’t raise my heart rate and I have the momentum of the decline to move me forward. I am convinced that taking the uphills a bit easy (not exhausting myself), and then taking the downhills fast, made it easier to hit my mile goal times.

What and why was the best workout you did in preparation for this race?

The long slow runs once a week are necessary for any marathon, but the runs that I believe helped me meet my time goals were the interval workouts – mile and 5K repeats at or faster than goal pace.

If you raced it all over, what, if anything, would you do differently?

I would try to figure out a way to relieve some of my leg pain. I was not limited by my cardiovascular system or my muscles – but the pounding in the calves and quads slowed me down toward the end. I was hesitant to take anything because I know some meds are not good for you when you get dehydrated. But I would like to research this issue some more. If my legs had been less sore, the last six miles would definitely have been more fun and faster.

Now that you accomplished this feat, what is next on your agenda?

Right now I’m resting my body and working on my swimming form. I’m also reading Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. Her story, and the photos of the race official trying to physically remove her from the race, are really something.

Come February I anticipate ramping the workouts back up and getting ready for triathlon season. I hope to have a great racing season (sprints and Olympic distances) and make my new sponsor, ACME Multisports, proud. And at the end of the summer I plan to do my first half ironman distance!