Sunday, January 22, 2012

Not Too Shabby

            It has been a week since the Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, and I am still pretty excited about how things turned out. I am not an Olympian and I did not run a personal best, but I am very happy with my result. My two main goals going into the race were to run the fastest race I possibly could, and to get myself into the top 3, booking my ticket to London. I did not accomplish either of those goals, but there is little I could have done last weekend to change the result.

            I was not in 2:09 marathon shape, I ran the first 20 miles of the race perfectly for a 2:09 marathon, but I didn’t have it the last 10k. I didn’t necessarily hit a wall, my legs just started losing energy and I faded to a 5:12 average for the last bit of the race. I was lucky enough to have such a large and fast group of guys in the chase pack to help each other out, take turns leading and keeping the race honest. We all gave ourselves the best shots we could to make the team. The Olympians up front were just on a different level than we were. I truly believe that if any of us in the chase pack had tried going out in 1:03:25 for the first half, none of us would have run as fast as we did.

            Looking through the results excites me, seeing so many Americans running as fast as we did, taking the US marathon to a new level of competitiveness is amazing. I am a huge fan of the sport and I am thrilled to be a part of this resurgence of American distance running. So many former teammates, competitors, and many guys who I had never met ran personal bests, or within a minute of their best. It is great to see so many of these guys running well.

The next four years it is going to be very exciting to see how many of these guys can continue to improve and make it to the next level. Who is going to be an Olympian in 2016? There are hundreds of guys who still have not tried out the marathon, since they are still competitive on the track or still in college. There is no telling what the next 4 years will bring. Maybe next time we will have 15-20 guys under 2:12. Maybe it will take a 2:08 marathon to be an Olympian. Whatever it may be I am looking forward to continuing to improve myself as much as I can. I am still going to pursue the dream of one day being an Olympian.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Rounding the Final Turn

            Less than two weeks remain until the Trials and I am finally getting excited for the race. This past week my fitness finally caught up to where I wanted to be going into the Trials. It has been a long, doubtful road since my last marathon in Daegu. A few weeks ago I was worried that I would not be able to even finish the race but each day I have gotten my training in, hoping that one day soon that I would start to feel fast again. That day has finally come and I am pumped about it.

            The past two weeks I have run 120-130 miles and each run I have done has felt better than the last. I started feeling good when I went home last Thursday before Christmas and got some sea level training. I was only home for 5 days, but during that time I ran 92 miles. This sea level training included a 24 mile long run with Danny, where we both completely depleted ourselves.  It was motivating that I felt good, but at the same time I was worried because I felt so beat up afterwards.

            The next few days were dedicated to recovering and getting my legs sharp and woken up again. I did an easy track workout on Monday and then a long tedious track workout on Wednesday. We drove down to Sedona for Wednesday’s workout, which was 10-15 x 1k with 1 minute rest. The goal was to run and feel comfortable at marathon pace. This workout is what brought me back to life. I sat myself right behind Brett on every single rep, making sure that I didn’t lose an inch on him.  This worked for the first 14 reps but on the very last interval he blew me out of the water, running a 2:42 to my 2:55. Despite that it was the best workout I had done in over 5 months. I felt like I was back to my old self again; ready to take on whatever came next.

            Well, what came next was yesterday’s 15 mile tempo run out on Lake Mary Road. I was nervous and excited going into it. I wanted to prove to myself that I could run as well as or better than I ever had before, but I was nervous that Wednesday’s workout may have been a fluke. I went out at a pace that I thought was conservative, but it ended up being a 5:16, followed by 5:13, 5:13 for the next two miles. To put this in perspective two weeks before on this same workout my fastest mile was only a 5:13.

            I was still feeling good, so I did what I could to keep my pace as even as possible, getting mentally prepared to push the last 4 miles. Through 11 miles I hit everything between 5:13 and 5:18 multiple times, the most consistent I had ever been on a tempo as long as this. My last 4 miles I dialed the pace down and ran 5:06, 5:11, 5:04, and 5:05, finishing with a total time of 1:18:20 (5:13 pace). So my average mile was as fast as my single fastest mile two weeks before. I was pumped!

            Now as I write this we have 12 ½ days until race morning. My fitness and my confidence are exactly where I hoped they would be at this point. And if everything keeps increasing like it has the past two weeks, then there is no telling what I will be capable of doing on race day. I know I have a shot of making the team, and of running a personal best. Anything can happen over the course of a marathon, I just need to be ready to put my best performance out there.