2016 Olympic Marathon Trials Project

from Tyler Pennel Running

6 weeks until the Trials!

This weekend I headed to Jacksonville, Florida for a marathon simulation race/workout. I did the same exact workout in my build up to the 2014 Twin Cities Marathon. The goal of the workout is to run marathon pace for 10 miles, then “snowball” the last three, hopefully finishing around half marathon pace. There were many similarities between the two races. In both races I ended up running marathon pace, but not picking it was very much, if at all really. This weekend I only marginally picked it up the last few miles. My pacing was just average. I would “yo-yo” between 4:50 and 5 minutes a mile. This is not ideal, but overall it was not terrible, but races are rarely run at exactly the same pace. At Twin Cities, the pace varied from 5:14-5:02 before the racing began late in the race.

Another similarity is that I thought after both races, I could have gone another six miles, to around 30km. With six weeks to go until the Trials, this is a great place to be. Running on tired legs now should help me peak well when it matters.

It was awesome to pace these guys to a Trials Qualifier! Such a great experience!

It was awesome to pace these guys to a Trials Qualifier! Such a great experience!

The one difference that stands out in my mind was the weather. At Virginia Beach, it was around 80 degrees and humid. This weekend in Jacksonville it was around 50 degrees and rainy. Both affected my effort, and even though this weekend had the “better” weather, I ended up getting cold the last few miles. I think had I not been so cold, I would have been much more willing to pick it up the last few miles.

Overall, I was very happy with the workout. The similarities between the two efforts show that I am in a good spot leading into the Trials in nearly six weeks. Running 64:31 in the tail end of 115 miles in seven days is a good effort. I am getting more used to training on tired legs, which will make running on fresh legs at the Trials that much easier!

Splits from the race:
14:51 (about 5:08, 4:54, 4:50), 4:51, 4:59 (24:42 5 miles)
4:54, 5:03, 4:54, 4:54, 4:50 (49:20 10 miles), 4:51, 4:56, 4:52

12/27-1/2

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 12 Travel to ATL
Monday 14 10 x 30 sec, Travel to Tallahassee
Tuesday 12 8
Wednesday 15 Workout
Thursday 10 6
Friday 13 5 8 x 200m, Drills
Saturday 10 4 x 30 sec, Drills
Week Total 105
Workout:
2 x 1km, 1:30 rest, 3:30 set rest; 
40 min alternating 80% and 90% effort every 5 min; 6 x 200m

2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Project

Front page of the sports section on Monday! Even over football!

Front page of the sports section on Monday! Even over football!

The big story for the weekend was The 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Project, and this was the highlight of my weekend. This was organized by Richard Fannin, the (in)famous elite coordinator of the Gate River Run. Richard cares so much about improving American distance running and it shows in Gate River and now what he did at the Jax Bank Half. Every year he brings in a stellar field to Gate River, even though it is in the early spring, which is not the prime time of the year for road racing. He pours his soul into making the race the best, and of the three years I have run it, I have not been disappointed. Well maybe with a few of my performances, but I cannot blame him for that.

The hype for the Jax Bank Half started this fall when Richard began to tout this race as a great place to qualify for the Olympic Trials. For those who do not know, you can qualify for the Trials with a half marathon (It is the only race where you do not have to actually run the distance to qualify). He was saying that course was flat, the weather is (usually) great, and there were going to be pacers running at the standard pace (65 and 75 minutes for guys and girls respectively). Just as with Twin Cities, I was looking for a race to run where I could do a Marathon specific workout and Jax fit perfectly into my schedule. When I contacted Richard about running the race, he was thrilled with what I was doing and asked me to be the pacer. This was a unique opportunity that I did not want to pass up. It ended up being way more than expected.

Richard ended up having over 60 guys who had either qualified or were looking to qualify for the Trials at the race. Some who were looking at qualifying had missed by only a few seconds in their previous attempts, and this was a last chance to qualify. Of the 40 or so that had not qualified, who had traveled there on their own dime, all came with a mission. There was a sense of camaraderie among the group, something that does not happen often in sports.

I have sat here for a while not knowing where to start. It is one of those situations where it is hard to put my thoughts on to paper. There were many moments during and after the race that expressed the feeling of camaraderie. On the first major turn of the course, I heard guys behind me saying out the direction of the turn so that the guys behind would be prepared. Same thing if there was a bump or big puddle in the road. Another time, when I let the pace slip (I ran a 5:03 7th mile) someone went to the front and began to help me. I was able to regain my focus and then get back to pace. Around 10 miles, Pat Regan who I ran against in college, pulled up next to me and said, “I feel good!” I responded, “Well, let’s go!” At 11 miles I looked back and told the group that we were 15 seconds under pace, and there was a almost a sigh of relief. Everyone in the group seemed to relax and many of them began to pick it up. Most that went by me gave me thanks, and as they started to race I went with them.

Then at the finish line, the true spirit of the day was shown. There ended up being eight guys directly in front of me and twelve behind me that all hit the standard. All of them had big smiles on their faces and many of them gave me a hug. For me it was beyond what I was expecting to be there, helping these guys get their qualifier. While I had known some of the guys in the race before hand, most I did not. Seeing how happy they were made my experience of the race that much better. It made crossing the line with them so much more meaningful.

Even beyond just the elite side, people watching and in the race knew that there was something different about the race. The atmosphere of the race was much more about working together then competing against each other. When walking to the car Andrew, Griff, and I began talking with a lady who asked if we were part of the “big group that went flying by.” She mentioned that it was great to see so many guys working together to run fast.

Proud of this girl! :)

Proud of this girl! 🙂

Here is a little plug to Richard, which is kind of a thanks for everything. From a numbers standpoint, the race ended up being a resounding success. Fourteen women (Seven new qualifiers) and 27 men! (18 new qualifiers) ran under the standard for the Trials. To put this in perspective, at the US Half Marathon Championships in 2015 had 48 qualifiers and the 2014 Championship had 32 qualifiers on the men’s side. In a race where there was no travel support (only a hotel room shared with three other people) and $500 for the win, Richard put together a field that had near USA Championship level depth. That alone goes to show his commitment to the sport. Thanks Richard for putting together a once in a lifetime event!

I could not finish with out mentioning that Nicole ran a fantastic race and ran under the standard! Unfortunately I was not able to see her finish, as I had a short workout to do after my race, but I was so proud of her. And now she is coming to visit me in Tallahassee for a few days!

Before I sign off, I will have to plug Esther Atkins (formerly Erb) blog about the race. Esther is a former ZAP athlete and a good friend and she does a much better job of explaining how this race morphed into such an awesome event. I feel she also gives a much better explanation of the atmosphere of the race. I recommend taking a few minutes to read it.

Male Results:

27 under 1:05:00 !!!

Posted by Richard Clark Fannin on Sunday, January 3, 2016

Female Results:

14 under 1:15:00 and 25 under 1:17:00 !!

Posted by Richard Clark Fannin on Sunday, January 3, 2016
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