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Olympic Trials Marathon Recap (Jan 29 2012, 02:42 AM)
One Last Hurrah in the Mountains (Oct 25 2011, 03:23 PM)
Double Double (Sep 29 2011, 08:53 PM)
World Mtn Running Champs - Report (Sep 21 2011, 10:26 AM)
Transrockies (Sep 21 2011, 05:15 AM)
Wow, Epic Course…Epic FAIL! (Sep 7 2011, 05:30 PM)
 

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Olympic Trials Marathon Recap

Published by
Maximus   on Jan 29 2012, 02:42 AM

I’m glad that’s over. Every four years I go through a long stressful buildup to what I consider to be the most important race I’ll have on the calendar. The Olympic Trials is just like every other race, only it’s not. No one treats it the same, and as hard as I try, my mind just won’t let me treat it the same as every other race. I’ll try to keep this a short report but there was so much that I could tell you about leading to the Olympic Trials this January that I could write much more than you would ever care to read.

No matter what people want to believe or perceive from my year of training and racing, this year and everything I did during the year and beyond have been about maximizing my potential at the Trials. I took things a little differently, sure (see my article in Running Times for more on this), but for me it was the way I needed to do it. Multiple races in a weekend for strength and durability, hills and mountains for endurance and strength, core work (pretty obvious), keeping busy with work to keep my mind occupied, etc. Training went very well this year as evidenced by other race results, including a World Championship win.  I stayed healthy too. I told myself going into this year that I wouldn’t be one of those guys that just trains like mad because it’s an Olympic year and fry myself. I felt like I was doing pretty well with that and had a plan leading up to the Trials to prevent that. But then just as I was putting that plan into action I had a small set back just after Thanksgiving. My Achilles flared up out of the blue. It was just a really tight gastroc muscle and really didn’t interrupt training for more than a couple days but that felt like it was enough to derail me or send me over that edge where I never really felt quite like I did leading up to November. I’d been training in three week blocks of about 120-140 miles through the year with a down week between. My plan leading up to Jan 14 was a block of 100-120 miles followed by a block of 80-90 miles, then a two week taper. That would give my body a chance to really absorb all that training and rest a bit. That whole period felt awful. I’m speculating now that I might have been a bit over trained. As messed up mentally as I already am, that did not help. 
But, the Wednesday before the trials I finally had that workout I’d been looking for. It was one of those rare workouts where it just feels like you could float to a 2:10 marathon. You’re running effortlessly, with your HR down, legs churning. It was a beautiful, perfect weather, sunny, 50 degrees with no wind.  Ryan Bak and I cruised through a 10:00 two mile, then cranked out 4 X 800 at 2:20-2:23 nice and relaxed. I was excited because I knew doing that workout in Bend, it would be about 5 sec/mile faster at sea level in Houston. That was reassuring and a confidence builder.

I was back. Feeling like I had the fitness back and ready for a good race. I did not foresee what would happen in the race. I assumed the lead pack would go out at about 2:10 pace or slower, at least for a couple miles. I knew a fast honest race would be the best scenario for me but I didn’t mean for that honest pace to be 2:06 for the leaders and 2:08 for the second group. Honestly, that caught me a bit off guard even knowing that I had to be ready for anything. I can say “what if” all I want but 2:08 pace through the early part of the race then 2:09 pace halfway was too fast for me and unfortunately I knew it. I had to go with it though. You don’t enter the trials just trying to get in the money or make top ten, you go to get First, Second, or Third. And had I had enough strength to finish an even race I would have captured one of the three coveted spots on the team. It’s always a long shot whether you can have the race of your life on that day but if you’re ever going to have that day you’ve got to put yourself in a position even early in the race to have that once-in-a-lifetime race.
So, anyway, the perfect race eluded me and I suffered the last four miles for it. I was picking up the pieces of that second group falling apart along with people coming up from behind and swallowing me up. I allowed the group to get away from me around mile 10 to back off the pace a bit because I knew better than to expect to run a 2:08. I went through half at 1:04:27. I race that pace to about 21 miles then it was all downhill after that. I wasn’t alone in my misery either. The rest of the field had obviously gone out too fast as well and were all falling apart. Guys that were more conservative were moving in to make the kill and they moved through the field without much resistance. To keep going I had to audibly tell myself to keep it up, just a couple miles, keep moving. You can check my splits here for an accurate race history and here you can see my HR profile and GPS data from my Polar RCX5. 
Analyzing the race, I can look at it and figure out that I would have placed a lot higher by going out more conservative and I can also speculate that I might have run a 2:11 if I had, but that’s a “what if”. So now I just have to run another one.

But first though I have some other business back on the trail and the mountains before hopping on the road again. And maybe even an appearance in the steeplechase this spring. My non-sub 8:30 PR still isn’t where I think it should be, so we’ll see. The big question is can I do that while working on my 50 mile endurance at the same time. Has that ever been done before? My guess is that I’ll get a lot of odd looks and some inane comments on Letsrun.com message boards about how I can’t do it and it won’t work. And that’s fine cus that’s just fuel for the fire. I might fail but at least I tried and I’ll prove something to myself in the process.

I’ve got to throw out some well deserved thanks to my family, Dory and Micah, for putting up with travel, training, and everything that goes along with athletics. And to my sponsors Mountain Hardwear, Montrail, Hammer Nutrition, Swiftwick Socks, Polar Monitors, and Reco-Fit recovery.
And good work to my teammate Megan Lund-Lizotte, and my other Mountain Running compatriots.


Now I’m in Kauai…

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