Stronger Together

During a quick chat with Alia Gray about the NYC Marathon, her advice to me was “don’t run alone.” That’s always the hope, especially in an all-women’s start.

Historically, women have been more likely than men to stick to their own plan over running together, and it has also been an extremely successful tactic for some. Magda’s run at the Trials in 2008 is one that comes to mind. And of course, Joanie’s epic gold medal run in 1984.

But as women’s distance running reaches depths that it’s never had before, this phenomenon is starting to occur less and less. We’ve started to see bigger lead packs in major marathons and the chase packs have become tighter, too.

BostonWomen

Anybody who knows much about my last 3 years of racing knows that I’m a huge advocate for running together. For one, I know it makes me stronger. But secondly, I have developed a reputation as someone who is extremely consistent – in pacing and performance – and as a result it seems that more and more women have targeted me as their pacer.

What’s my reputation? Why are women deciding to key off of me?

People often ask me how many marathons I’ve run and I’m starting to lose track, so I went through and found each of my exact results for all of us to see.

  1. 2008 Berlin 2:46:15
  2. 2009 Vienna (terribly out of shape, and consequently dehydrated) 3:09:21
  3. 2010 Seville 2:39:47
  4. 2012 Trials 2:37:21
  5. 2012 Twin Cities 2:36:21
  6. 2013 Twin Cities 2:34:30
  7. 2014 Tallahassee (for funsies) 2:46:28
  8. 2014 Boston 2:33:15
  9. 2014 Twin Cities 2:34:00
  10. 2015 Worlds (hot) 2:38:15
  11. 2016 Trials (hot) 2:37:57
  12. 2016 Grandma’s (hot and experimented with underpreparation) 2:37:26

And here they are broken down into halves and first to second half split differences. (This is for the real stat nerds out there like me.)

  1. 2:46:15 = 1:23:03, 1:23:12 = +0:09
  2. 3:09:21 = 1:24:20, 1:45:01 = +20:41
  3. 2:39:47 = 1:20:33, 1:19:14 = -1:19
  4. 2:37:21 = 1:18:07, 1:19:14 = +1:07
  5. 2:36:21 = 1:17:34, 1:18:47 = +1:13
  6. 2:34:30 = 1:17:12, 1:17:18 = +0:06
  7. 2:46:28 = 1:24:58, 1:21:30 = -3:28
  8. 2:33:15 = 1:17:19, 1:15:56 = -1:23 (on Boston’s course!!)
  9. 2:34:00 = 1:17:30, 1:16:30 = -1:00 (despite a port-a-potty stop at mile 20)
  10. 2:38:15 = 1:19:23, 1:18:52 = -0:31
  11. 2:37:57 = 1:18:36, 1:19:21 = +0:45
  12. 2:37:26 = 1:19:11, 1:18:15 = -0:56

Here are some fun facts that I’ve noticed looking at these numbers I listed above:

  • Of the marathons coached by my current coach Terrance Shea (#3 & #6-12) only 2 have been positive splits. One was just 6 seconds, which barely counts, and the other was at the 2016 Olympic Trials where I intentionally tried to put myself out there a little more.
  • Outside of my 1 dehydration disaster race when I was terribly out of shape in 2009, I have never positive split over 73sec *knock on wood*
  • #1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 were all PRs
  • #10-12 were all over 68 degrees at the start.

Am I writing all of this down to brag? Maybe a little bit. I must admit that I am very grateful for the progress I have made and proud of the consistency I have shown in my training and racing over the last 8 years.

But also because… that’s right! It’s almost taper time! The time when we all start diving into the numbers to find some comfort before the extreme vulnerability that we all experience as we lay everything out there on one day. Before we throw down our whole hand and the world finds out if it’s a royal flush or a re-deal… or something in between.

Bridge

As the race gets closer, I have to admit that I spend increasing amounts of time trying to scope out my competition, so just in case anyone out there is doing the same for me, this next part is for you.

A lot of us tend to keep our cards close to our chest and don’t like to share anything until race day. Sometimes it’s because things haven’t been going smoothly, and we’re still hoping that they’ll magically turn around. Other times it’s because things have been perfect, and we don’t want to jinx it.

But in my mind, why show up to a World Major Marathon if you want to run alone?

Of course, I’ll end up running my own race because that’s just what I do, but if someone thinks that I’d be a good person to work with, I want them to know what I have to offer so that we can work together and hopefully none of us have to run alone.

Mile23

But rest assured, I still plan to smile, even if it ends up happening.

 

So I’ve covered the past – the part that anybody could look up if they wanted to. Here’s how things are going now:

Everybody says they’ve been in better shape than their performances attest, and I’m not any different. I believe that I have been in 2:32-2:31 shape for years now, but thanks to 3 hot marathons in the last 2 years, I haven’t been able to prove it.

My training isn’t a whole lot faster than it’s been, but I’m definitely feeling much like I did before my Twin Cities US Champs win in 2014. While low iron set me back about a month out from TCM 2014, a head cold affected me similarly this time. In turn, so far I’ve bounced back from this setback very similarly.

While I can’t guarantee any specific times because I’ve never run the New York City Marathon before – and as we’ve seen, you never know how the weather will be – what I can say is this: I am fit, and I am ready.

Barring injury or further illness before NYC Marathon, I will be ready to give a PR effort. Both of my fastest times (#8 & 9) convert to around 2:34:25 in NYC, which means that (weather permitting) I will likely go out somewhere around 1:17:10-1:16:40 and do my best to negative split.

If we get the wind that they’re already calling for on race day, times will be slower, but I can 95% guarantee that my pacing will reflect that accurately.

 

So if you are my competition and you think you’re fit and ready to run somewhere between 2:34 and sub-2:32 in NYC, please consider reaching out to me or at least finding me on the starting line (shouldn’t be hard to do). Because after all, we’re stronger together.

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