Thursday, February 11, 2016

US Olympic Marathon Trials Predictions

It's once again time for the USA Olympic Trials!  While four years ago, you had the three big favorites in Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezghi and Dathan Ritzenhein, this year, it's nearly anyone's game.  I feel that there are at least 7-8 guys who could make the team and literally a ton of runners who could make the top five (they'd equal a ton if you weighed them all together).

In my opinion, the following are the 12 11 favorites who could snag a top five spot this weekend, I put them in random order and if you're too bored to read all of the crap I wrote, you can scroll down to the end to see my final three picks.

Galen Rupp

I'm excited that Rupp is running.  Not only did I make a beer bet with 4:1 odds with Connor Kamm that Rupp would start but his appearance is going to greatly affect the style of the race. Beforehand, I expected a relaxed, tactical race for at least 10-15 miles before little moves are made, followed by a big push. Having Rupp in the field is going to have people more on edge and they'll think a little bit less of themselves and their own race and worry a little more about him.

Most people think he should be the overwhelming favorite, while others are expecting much less.  I don't know how I feel on the issue. Mo  Farah struggled in his 2:09 marathon debut a while back in London and he normally beats Rupp.  But I never expected Farah to run any faster than 2:07-2:08 because he was coming off a 3:28 1500m a year prior.  Maybe he could be a sub 2:05 guy down the road but he wasn't recently removed from having his huge turbo engine.

I think Rupp will be better suited to the marathon, compared to Farah, as he seems more patient and relaxed without that insane speed.  But then you have to remember that while Salazar has had a ton of success coaching middle distance runners, he has shown to have a lot of trouble with the marathon distance.  People forget that the original goal of the Oregon Project was to develop world class marathoners, and other than Dan Browne setting a marathon PR six weeks after joining the program, everyone else ran slower, completely bombed or retired from the sport.

This is too much writing, so I'm going to sum this up.


  • Fastest middle distance runner in the field.  Like totally on another level.
  • Even if they run 4:55 pace from the gun, that's going to feel very easy on his legs for 20 miles.
  • Has shown to be very tough over the half-marathon distance, running a recent sub 62 marathon, in what appeared to be a Sunday stroll.
  • Marathon rookie.  With that comes way too many unknowns.  How does he handle drinking and fueling?  Can he handle the slow, patent marathon burn? 
  • His coach has struggled with coaching the marathon distance
  • A race course with a ton of turns in warm weather is definitely not Rupp-Certified

Meb Keflezghi

Olympic medalist, Boston Marathon Champ and the list goes on.  He's nearly 41 years old but runs very well on tactical courses, which the Trials is.  He puked a bunch in Boston last year and still ran 2:12 in very breezy weather conditions. His name precedes him, so I don't need to waste a bunch of time typing stuff out.  

Jared Ward

If I had to put all of my money on one person making the team, I'd pick Jared Ward.  He's very consistent and has impressive range for a guy with such a large gas tank.  I also like the approach he has taken over the last couple of years.  After his professional marathon debut, which resulted in a 2nd place finish at the 2014 US Marathon Championships, behind Tyler Pennel, he went on to win the 2015 US Marathon Championships.  He then spent the spring racing a bunch of shorter races and honing his battle skills.  After that, he won the US 20k Championships over a killer field, but then struggled a bit in the 10 mile and 12k championships.

Before Rupp entered the field, I expected the last 10k to be a flat-out dogfight, which would be beneficial to Ward as he did a lot of that last spring.  Even if the pace gets rolling earlier than expected, I feel he won't have any problems. He really seems to have all his bases covered.

His marathon PR is "just" a few seconds under 2:13, but he ran that in hot conditions and ran a very patient race, breaking away from the other US guys in the second half and beating them by several minutes.  I believe that day, he was a potential sub 2:10 guy, in disguise.

Diego Estrada

A lot of people think he is almost a definite for the team, but I'm in the small camp that feels he's more of a speed-based half-marathoner opposed to a strength-based one like Pennel, Ward, Meb, etc.

While he can sometimes be inconsistent in his races, he looked amazing in the 2015 US Half-Marathon Championships, putting a hurting on the field from gun to tape and running under 61 minutes in the process.

I think he has the ability to be a sub 2:10 guy down the road, but it's going to be tough to battle against the deep field, the hot weather and still be able to nail it in his marathon debut.  But heck, he destroyed his professional half marathon debut, so who knows?

Tyler Pennel

Based on the previews and articles I've seen, this guy is criminally underrated. Ever since he ran 61 and change in his half marathon debut, I felt like the marathon was going to be his calling.  How many 61 minute guys are only 13:45ish runners (around his PR at the time)?

He ran 2:13 in his first and only marathon, winning the 2014 US Marathon Championships, with Ward in second.  I remember he and Scott Smith made a huge move around 20 miles and I thought they would both die.  Pennel hung on and he made it look easy to seal the win (with Smith also running very well to finish third). Since then, he's run shorter races, including a sub 4:00 mile, which was his first time under the barrier.

His first race of his Trials build-up was a fifth place performance behind Ward, Chelanga, Ritz and Puskedra in the US 20k Championships on Labor Day.  They ran together from the start and didn't get separated until the end.  Out of the five, I felt like Pennel was the least race-fit.  His next race was the US 10 Mile Championships a month later, where he was a second behind Chelanga, while defeating Ritz.

Just under two months after that, he ran the same time as Chelanga in the US 12k Championships but finished second. In that race, he beat Ward and Estrada.

Pennel always seems to stick his nose out in the front of the race and races with a lot of confidence. And looking at his training leading up to the Trials, he's had a lot of great workouts, which were designed to suit the Trials course well, as he's run workouts with a lot of turns and varied-pace fartleks.

I feel like it would have been better for him to come into the Trials with another marathon under his belt, where he hit the wall or had to grit through the last 10k. His only marathon so far looked way too easy, so he's somewhat of an unknown in a grinding, ugly, marathon race.

Luke Puskedra

Just four months ago, if you told me he would be in 90% of people's top three at the Trials (I totally made up that number but I don't think it's too far off), I would have thought you were insane.  He struggled in his debut marathon and ran well over 2:20. And last June, he ran 2:15, which was a race where a lot of guys set PR's.  And oh yeah, I also thought he was too tall to run a marathon fast. But then the Chicago Marathon happened and he ran 2:10, which would have been at least a 2:09 if it were the same conditions as the 2014 edition.

What's the main change he has made over the last year?  He dropped Salazar as his coach and is now running under Ian Dobson, He also reportedly dropped his mileage from over 175 miles a week under Salazar to about 130.

The big intangible for Puskedra is how he will respond to the pressure.  He entered Chicago about a month before the race and was probably going in without much pressure and a relaxed mindset. Now, he's viewed as someone who should make the team, with even a shot at winning.  It'll be interesting to see how he responds to that and see if he can nail another amazing performance.

Dathan Ritzenhein

He's been my favorite professional runner (along with Max King) for a long time. I've been a fan of him since I saw him run in high school and I like his gritty, old-school approach to training and racing.  If he makes the team, it'll be his fourth Olympics and out of the 2001 High School Big Three (Ritz, Alan Webb and Ryan Hall), he's the last one standing.

He has a marathon PR of 2:07, set at the 2012 Chicago Marathon and is a former American Record Holder in the 5000m with a time of 12:56.  Besides Meb, he's the most experienced marathoner in the race, which will serve him well.

Jeffrey Eggleston

He has the fourth fastest marathon PR with his 2:10:52 at the 2014 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. He was by far the slowest college runner on this top 12 list but seems to be naturally suited for the marathon distance.  He coaches himself, with his training being influenced by Renato Canova's theories, and he is a very calculated and analytical guy.  He's had some rough go's at the marathon lately but despite his his easy-going demeanor away from competition, he's a fiery competitor in battle.

Bobby Curtis

I'd be a moron if I didn't list at least one Hanson's runner on here.  Those guys are marathon wizards and usually peak very well.  And it's especially helpful when one of those guys has the credentials that Curtis has.  He ran 2:11 in the 2014 Chicago Marathon, which was both his third marathon and third marathon PR and has a 10,000m PR of 27:24.

He should also do well in the weather conditions, as he's been training in Florida the last few weeks. Sure, others have been sitting in saunas and moved to warmer locations recently, but it's one thing to do your peak training in warm weather and entirely another to get some hard, extensive work in it. And I also wonder if moving to a warm location late in the training is a good idea because not only do you not get that tough work in the conditions, but the new environment is a stress to your body during a time you should be relaxing and recovering.

The big question mark I have about him is that while he's normally a pretty active racer, I haven't seen much at all from him over the last year.

Elkanah Kibet

Before last year's Chicago Marathon, no one knew who this guy was.  He had a half-marathon PR over 64 minutes but then busted out a 2:11 at Chicago.  At the time, he was a full-time solider in the US Army and even did a nine-month stint overseas. Now, he's part of the WCAP program and has nothing to worry about expect for training hard.

I actually met him back in 2005 while I was in Kenya and one of the few things I remember is that he told me he was thinking about going to Alabama A&M, which I tried to steer him away from.  He went on to run for Rend Lake Community College and then Auburn University.  I also was about to pee in his water bottle at the starting line of the Chicago Marathon before he told me it was his.

He's spent the last month training in Tuscon with Chelanaga, so it'll be interesting to see how he does. Normally, when you make a big change in your life routine, it either helps you or hurts you.  If it helps him, he has a very good chance at making the team.

Sammy Chelanga

Super nice guy, a family man and really hates to watch horror movies (I roomed with him at the New Haven 20k and not once but twice, he made me turn off a horror movie I was watching). This guy has very impressive PRs of 13:04, 27:08 and 61:19.  He really wants to make a US Olympic Team and his first shot is this weekend.

He trains under James Li with Bernard Lagat and Stephen Sambu and occasionally, Abidi (and recently, Kibet).  He's mentioned that they never really have an easy day and run moderate mileage. That can be great for the shorter stuff, but I'm not sure how it'll work in the marathon.  But his brother was a 2:07 guy, so I'm sure he has received plenty of good advice.

He's been in a lot of intense racing battles on the roads, so he's going to be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.

Fernando Cabada

The twice, 2:11 marathoner surprised people by finishing 7th in the 2012 Marathon Trials and has improved since then.  He's also a pretty unique character and has come far in life.  The thing I love about him is that he's very real and lives his life how he wants to, regardless of what others think.  

The tough thing about the marathon is that you have only one day to shine, no matter how great your training was leading up to it.  Cabada has had rough outings his last two marathons, but he has been training very well and a few weeks ago, ran a 2:18 marathon in a glorified training run and then a week later, ran under 64:02 for the half, after losing his shoe in the last kilometer.

A lot of people knocked him for running a steady marathon four weeks out, but I believe it's no harder than racing a half-marathon in the same time period. And when it comes down it, the steady marathon is a better training stimulus for the marathon race.  

He did the same thing before finishing 7th at the last Olympic Trials and in my best marathon race (2013 Houston Marathon), I ran a steady marathon five weeks out and felt great.  He will be ready.

Final Predictions.

1. Jared Ward

2. Meb Keflezghi

3. Tyler Pennel

This one was very tough.  I don't expect Rupp to finish (hot marathons take longer to recover from and all of the turns on the Trials course will do a number on his legs).  So that led me to Jared Ward. He's an excellent racer, has a great marathon coach/mentor in Ed Eyestone and is race savvy enough to pull it out.

Meb is a true legend, nearly always surprises people and is the best technical racer of the bunch.  But, he's also a few months removed from turning 41 and Father Time is slowly creeping forward.

Third place was insanely tough.  I put Pennel in third because I think he has been a potential 2:10 guy for the past year but just hasn't raced a marathon to prove it.  He also rarely, if ever, has a bad race. He seems like he has a laid-back approach to things, with the old-school racing mentality. It'll be tough to drop the other guys in the field, but I believe his consistency, along with his natural marathoning ability will help him pull through.  Yeah, he was 0-3 against Chelanga last fall, but the marathon is a different beast, and I think he's the type of guy that if he's close to you in the shorter races, he will whip you in the longer ones.

It was very hard to finalize my top three and at one point in time, I had 10 of my listed 12 in my predicted top three at one point.  It's going to be a great race to watch and I think it will be one of the most exciting Olympic Marathon Trials to date.

And oh yeah, a couple darkhorse picks.

#1 Daniel Tapia.  He ran a strong 2:17 last year in LA, to finish fourth among Americans.  He stuck his nose out there a bit and was right behind Ward at 25km. The main reason I'm picking him as a darkhorse is that he's really improved his speed over the last year.  He used to be a consistent 64+ half-marathon guy, but in 2015, he ran under 64 twice. Like the below pick, he's a pure marathoner, so I think his improved speed will translate well to the marathon distance.

#2.  Craig Leon.  You can't be like the USATF and forget about this guy because he races very well and is a natural marathoner.  He has run a ton of 2:13-2:16 times in tough conditions and on tough courses. He wasn't far behind Meb at this past NYC Marathon and has a shot at the top 10.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 1st-7th Training

Monday: 3.4 miles (7:14); 8.7 miles (7:26)

Tuesday: No running.  I forgot why.

Wednesday: 10.3 miles (6:36). I was hoping to do a hilly progression and work down to lower 5s for the last two downhill miles but my legs had nothing.  After six miles, I decided to just run easy because 6:20s felt tough.; 5.4 miles (7:18)

Thursday: 8.2 miles (6:47). Skipped second run because I got asked to work my school's STEM night, last minute.

Friday: 8.6 miles with 2x.30 up and downhill repeats. Used my typical off-season baby hill.  In the past, I've always started these at 1:30 and worked down.  I ran my first two in 1:36 and 1:34 and I was struggling.  I did better on the downhills and ran 1:22 and 1:20.  Man, I'm way out of shape. Skipped second run because I had my old school's talent show.

Saturday: 9.6 miles (6:52); .8 miles(7:39). Cut it because my left knee was really achy and I was still gimping after a 1/2 mile.  The pain also went into my butt and groin.

Sunday: No running. 20 miles on the agenda but didn't want to aggravate the knee.

Week Total: 55 miles. Goal was 95, so I'm taking a mulligan this week.  I need to start scraping my patellar tendon because there is a little ridge on it, as well as some tiny bumps, which I figure is scar tissue that needs to be broken up.  I've had issues with it for a long time and would scrape it almost daily, so I need to get back on that routine.

The goal is 95 miles again for this week with a couple of moderate workouts, a short little fartlek and maybe a long run. I was really frustrated with my hills because six seconds slower per hill is about 20 seconds a mile...and that's when I would do them in the off-season.  I'm also about eight pounds heavier than I was at Chicago, which is probably why I ran so slowly up but was able to run decently well on the way down!

I'm going for a blood test on Thursday and will also have my Olympic Trials predictions posted by then.  With the heat and Rupp, it's tough to figure out.

Friday, February 5, 2016

January 24th-30th Training

Monday: 8 miles (6:38); 4.8 miles (7:20)

Tuesday: 9.7 miles with 8 miles at 5:41.  
Ran two of my 3.93ish mile loops with an extension to make it eight.  For the splits on each loop, I ran 5:41-5:3 for the first mile and then ran 5:50-5:36, 5:55-5:46 and 5:17-5:12.  Pace wasn't too bad on my legs but the last couple of miles became a little bit difficult, especially after the hills.  I can tell I'm at that awkward state where you lungs and legs are in two different fitness states and they don't work together too well when it comes to running harder; 4.2 miles (7:22)

Wednesday: 5.4 miles (7:14); 6 miles (7:26)

Thursday: 8.2 miles with 8x30s fast with 2:30 jog.  The initial plan was ten, but my six, my legs were dying.  I was pretty sore from the leg circuit Tuesday night, so my hamstrings didn't want work too well.  That just put too much work onto my quads, which turned to garbage.  I then tried to use my glutes and hamstrings again, but those gave out on the last one.  Finished at 4:23 average for the 30s portions.; 4.6 miles (7:13)

Friday: 6.8 miles (7:09); 3.4 miles (7:17)

Saturday: 3.2 miles (7:24); 6.3 miles with Zoo Run Run in 16:02. Goal was just to run as hard as I needed to win, which I did by about 20-30s.  Honestly, this was tougher than it should have been. The course is under 3 miles and probably around 2.9-2.95 miles but has a ton of zig-zags, so it's very hard to run quickly the second half.  But the first mile isn't too bad, turns wise, and I felt like crap on that. I was dying on the hill and running close to 5:20 pace for the first mile.  While I didn't give near a race effort, and really couldn't with the layout of the course, I could tell that I'm very out of shape.

Sunday: 18.6 miles (6:28). I flipped my normal 20 mile, two loop-type courses and skipped going to my house for a stop, which made it 18.6 miles.  The plan was to run sub 6;30 and I was running quickly, early.  The second part of the run was tough and I was struggling on the hills, since I had some fatigue going into it (normally it's easy when I'm fresh).  I was happy to get in the distance but I was pretty tired.

Week Total: 89.2 miles. Man, I thought for sure I hit 90.  I was happy to get in the volume and this is my longest week since Chicago.  I got in three quality type days, along with a long run, so it was a good week overall.  However, I can tell I'm still way out of shape, especially speed-wise.  I thought I would have made more progress by now, but it feels like I'm remaining stagnant, fitness-wise.  I need to get my iron checked again because I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it's still low (and at this point, I almost hope it is). I don't see how it would because I've really ramped up my dosage and have been taking it on an empty stomach, before my morning runs and sometimes do another dose right before bed.

Now, quite obviously, I'm not running in the Trials.  I absolutely hate missing it because I thought it would be a fun experience.  However, I don't view it the same as someone who qualified for Boston and then goes up to the marathon and enjoys the experience and celebrates the environment.  If I qualify for a race, I want to race.  That's what I enjoy.  If I ran in LA, I'd either DNF or run 2:25-2:30, have a miserable experience and then have jacked up legs for quite some time and have to restart my training again. There's no joy in that for me.

And I'm at the point where a race is just a race.  Sure, when you're freshly out of college, you get giddy for all of the big races and are so emotionally attached to the sport.  But it has more of a business feel to me.  Chicago feels no different than Tom King.  Sure the Trials is the best US marathon there has been in four years and pretty much everyone is racing it. And it would have been fun to shoot for a top 20 spot but I'm nowhere near being able to do that.  The only Olympic Team I would have a chance at making is the women's.

Honestly, I don't expect to regret missing.  Sometimes, I get bummed for a few seconds but I'm at the point where I'm winding down my running sometime in the next year or two.  I have a family, a job with non-ideal running hours, a K-2nd grade running club with over 80 crazy kids, an elementary cross country team and I just recently started a youth running club for the Middle Tennessee Area (the Music City Super Squad, but the website is still under progress).  All of that takes away from my training, but I think it's important to give back and I feel I can still run at a high level with all of that stuff taking place.  Maybe not 100%, but not far from it.

That being said, I would love to break 14:00 on the track this spring and 2:15 in the marathon this fall.  That's what is motivating me for now, so that's what I'm focused on. Running the Trials with a terrible performance and then sacrificing my spring racing season just doesn't make sense to me

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 11th-24th Training

Monday: 9 miles (7:30)

Tuesday: 6.2 miles (6:55); 5 miles (7:07)

Wednesday: 7 miles (6:51); 5.5 miles (7:07)

Thursday: 8 miles with pickups (6:44); 3.4 miles (7:06)

Friday: 4.1 miles (7:16). I was going to do a progression on my 9.3 mile route, but trying that at 5:30am, when it's eight degrees, and no warm-up wasn't a good idea; 10.7 miles with 6x400m at 68 with 400m jog. I was planning on 8-10 of these at 68-70, which I felt would be attainable with the long recovery jog.  But after four of them, I was hurting but I made myself do six.  Man, at this point, I'm hoping my iron is still really low.  Not too long ago, I could run 20x400m at 64-65 with 1:00 rest. I have a long way to go!

Saturday: 10 miles (7:06)

Sunday: 13.8 miles (6:35).  The plan was to do 10 miles easy and then 8 miles at 5:45-5:50.  Well, that was Hunter Hall's plan but the kid played hooky and cancelled.  Spencer and I debated it but after about 12 miles, we both said we felt like crap, so we bagged it.

Week Total: 83.2 miles.  Finally into the 80s!  While I'm nowhere near were I want to be, fitness wise, at least the volume is rising.

Monday: 8 miles with 7 mile progression (5:45).  I just ran a "natural" progression where I started a bit faster than a normal easy run (6:14 first mile) and worked down.  I had a 5:17 6th mile, due to the generous, long downhill and I was hoping to run a low 5:00 on the last one.  I ran a hard effort and was struggling but only managed a 5:37.  There was a headwind the entire last mile, but I still thought I'd run quite a bit faster at the end and it FELT like I was running a lot faster; 6.3 miles (6:55)

Tuesday: 6.8 miles (6:50): 3.4 miles (6:58)

Wednesday: No running. Roads were slick with ice and we were out on a snow day.  No way to run.

Thursday: 5.4 miles with 4x2:00 on/off at 5:00 pace on the treadmill.  I was hoping to get in closer to eight pickups, along with a three mile cooldown, but I was on a freaking treadmill. I was surprised with how smooth it felt for the first 2-3 but by the fourth, I was getting really hot and I was satisfied with the stimulus.

Friday: No running. Eight inches of snow.

Saturday: No running. Still a ton of snow but I bet I got in at least 4 miles or so of walking since we sledded twice (hill was about 3/4 a mile a way) and went up and down the hill quite a bit.  It's funny that we make our kids wear a helmet when they are riding their bikes on the sidewalk but we were torpedoing down the street, without wearing a thing.  The cars removed a lot of the snow, so we were able to slide down a sheet of ice, which was insanely fast.  No one got hurt.

Sunday: 11.7 miles (6:54). Lazy running with Joey and Connor in Nashville.  Felt really flat and my quads were sore from sledding, a long

Week Total: 41.6 miles. I was planning on hitting 90 before the weather hit.  Garbage week, but I'll know out 90 this week.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Powerball Lottery

I played my first ever lottery by buying a lottery ticket for everyone in my house and since I had a $10 bill (they were $2 a pop),  I even considered buying one for my dog until logic finally kicked in.

Yeah, it was a waste of $8 but it was fun to plan what I would do with the money.  I definitely would have kept it a secret and only told Mary and she was in agreement.  I'd then hire a couple of attorneys and accountants so they can all check on each other.  I don't think I'd change my lifestyle much because I've never been the type of person who buys anything new or extravagant when unexpected money comes in.

It's like those people who go crazy when they get their tax rebates and they blow it on TV's and other random stuff.  If you can't buy something like that outright, then you definitely don't need to buy it if extra cash comes your way. But enough rambling.

The point is that a tiny bit of everyone who bought a ticket thought/hoped they would win. But in reality, your chances are about equal to getting a phone book (do they still make those) with everyone's name in the entire United States in it and hoping they would land on YOUR name. Yeah, there were three winning tickets last night, but millions and millions of people who threw their money away.  There's a reason people call it a tax on the stupid.

That's why I love (as well as sometime hate) distance running.  If you want something bad enough and work for it, it may come your way. And if you don't put in the work, keep on dreaming. It's something you have to earn, not something that is given. There's no magic or luck. But with the lottery, all the mental toughness and discipline in the world won't help or hurt your chances at all.

I like the realness of running more than the lottery.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2015 Top Nashville Area Marathon Times

It's time once again for the annual marathon rankings for the Nashville area. What's the Nashville area? My definition is living in a place where you can drive to the state capitol in thirty minutes or less, assuming there's empty roads and you don't speed TOO much.  And since these are my rankings, I get to make the rules.

This year's edition has some new flavor as people from last year's list have moved, gotten hurt, been taken out by some fresh new blood and/or realized how stupid running truly is.  I was hoping this would be the year of Connor Kamm's debut on the list but he spent too much time being hurt and once again, took up the trumpet as a hobby.  When he's in shape, he can probably beat anyone in the world in running and/or trumpeting(?) as he was an All-State trumpet performer in high school (as well as an insanely fast runner..when he's not hurt, of course).

But here's my list.  If I overlooked someone, let me know (trail races and downhill marathons don't count).

Men's Top 5

1. Scott Wietecha: 34, 2:17:02, Chicago Marathon. So close to being a 2:16 marathoner, but if he never runs a marathon again, he will always be a 2:17 guy. The guy loves making excuses.  He claims Chicago was too hot and too windy.  He also said the tape that he attached his gels to his bottles with was too sticky, and he spent too much time trying to rip off his gels. Then his last "real" marathon race before that (2:17:17, Houston 2014) was because he was sick or something a few weeks out and missed a couple weeks of workouts. Yeah, he will say he was on 2:13 pace for almost 21 miles, but he went out in 66:18, like an idiot.  And then his marathon race before that (2:18:53 at the 2013 Houston Marathon) was too cold, rainy and windy and he whined about how it sleeted for nearly 30 seconds during the race. What excuse will 2016 bring?

Is that Barak?
2. Joseph Elsakr: 25, 2:23;22, California International Marathon. Not a bad run for a guy who is in medical school at Vanderbilt.  And he seems to be a more of a rhythm runner, and with all of the rhythm changes on the ups-and-downs at CIM, it makes the time even more impressive.  Some other notable information is that he's the slowest guy on the list as he's never broken 60 seconds in a 400m. He's also the only person on the list who has driven the 25ish minutes to Hendersonville to go on a run with me.  He was rewarded with a cheeseburger and chicken wings.

3. "Wild" Bill Martin,  25, 2:28:48, Rocket City Marathon.  His 2:28 was on a balmy day and he beat some pretty solid runners in the race to take the overall win. He also would completely smoke Joey in a sprint, as he ran a 3:46 1500m a few years back.  He was a thorn in my side during the 2015 edition of the Flying Monkey Marathon but unofficially, it wasn't me who beat him but the portajohns. And for some reason, he thinks I'm crazy for taking four gels during a marathon, but I bet he also believes Renato Canova when he says EPO doesn't work on Kenyans.

4. Hunter Hall, 26, 2:33:04, Indy Monumental Marathon.  Knocked a few minutes off his PR in his only marathon of the year.  He also always says he's going to run with me in Hendersonville but never does (and I just recently drove to Nashville to run with him).  He's probably the loudest laugher on the list as well as lightest runner, man or woman.  He really wants to make a run at 2:25 next year, so you should see him again on this list next year.  Hopefully he would have run with me in Hendersonville by then.

I had the hardest time finding a picture of him.. After spending way too much time going through photos on the Nashville Striders webpage, as well as Facebook, I decided to type in "Chris Duncan marathon" into Google and take the first image, no matter how random or inappropriate it could potentially be.  As the running gods would have it, it was actually a picture of the real Chris Duncan.  What a waste of time.
5. Chris Duncan  37, Chicago Marathon, 2:33:54.  The "grandpa" of the list and a former All-American miler at the University of Florida and occasional triathlete, who completed an Ironman a month after Chicago. Based off his summer training and fitness level, his coach thought he was an idiot last August for wanting to make a run at 2:30 but with some better weather, he very well could have done it.  He's pumped for 2016 and is actually going to train throughout the spring and summer to make another run at sub 2:30 in the fall and take a stab at a top 3 Nashville spot in 2016 (since Connor Kamm will probably never run a marathon).  He's also good at having daughters (has four of them with no boys).

Women's Top 5

1.  Gisela Olalde, 31, 2:34:10, California International Marathon.  Had a baby in late March and got in shape super fast to run two really impressive marathons within a couple weeks of each other, as she won the Philadelphia Marathon two weeks before CIM (which was her fourth marathon in ten weeks). She's wanting to represent Mexico in the 2016 Olympics and I've heard she's going to take a stab at sub 2:30 in Rotterdam this year. She's definitely a diamond in the rough, as I don't think she has any sort of sponsorship and I believe she's coached by her husband, who has only been running for a few years.  She may take a top three spot for the Nashville men next year!

Instead of a picture of Jeannette, I decided to go above and beyond and post a short-clip from one of my old, completely random school movies where two supervillains attempt to take over an office building in Nashville.  And for some reason, on phones, this plays the whole video (which was actually my rough draft.  On laptops, it cuts to the right part (9:34)  ).

2. Jeannette Faber, 33, 2:51:53, Rocket City Marathon.  My fellow Newton teammate, who also represented the US in the marathon at the 2014 World Championships.  She didn't race a marathon this year but ran Rocket City as a steady long run and also for some lotto tickets to take a stab at the $1.5 billion Powerball lottery. With several planned marathons next year, she should have no problem getting into the 2:30s again, as she ran 2:32 a few years back.

3. Julie Ulery, 33, 2:56:58, Boston Marathon.  Ran her time in the tough conditions at Boston last year.  She's pretty new to serious training and should be able to improve quite a bit.  But for some reason, she thought moving to Florida would be a good idea, so she won't be on the Nashville list next year. Maybe she did it for the people watching or outrageous news stories. Regardless, she was Nashville's fastest woman marathoner, who races in headphones and/or does exercise videos.

4. Ashley Evans,29, 2:59:19, Indy Monumental Marathon.  She ran 2:49 in her marathon debut a few Chicago's ago but the marathon is a tricky distance to figure out. She's consistently one of the top road racers in the area and is a Jill of all trades as she competes on the roads, trails and even in triathlons.

5. Beth Meadows, 29, 3:04:50, Boston Marathon. I guess with ten available spots, having one of those trail runner people on the list is somewhat acceptable, She recently completed the 100 miler at Pinhoti and since she's going to stop playing in the woods as much this spring, she should be able to take a crack at the mid 2:50s in the marathon distance.  And according to her Strava, she runs with "pups" much more than humans.  Maybe that's a trail runner thing, I don't know.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 4th-10th Training

Monday: 10 miles (7:13)

Tuesday: 6.1 miles (7:05)

Wednesday: 8.5 miles with 4 mile steady loop in 22:47 (5:41 average). Felt really rusty on this one.  I could tell the pace was easy on my legs but my gas tank wasn't there to follow suite. I ran up the long, gradual 1km'ish hill at over 6:00 pace and my legs were struggling from Bulgarian split squats a couple of days prior.  Hopefully that means my "hill running" muscles will get stronger soon. Not terrible for my first loop out there and I hope to be up to three loops at sub 5:40 average by the end of February; 5.5 miles (7:09)

Thursday: No running.  First week of school is getting to me.  I'm still getting the same amount of nightly sleep, I'm just not getting my daily two hour nap.  Drained all day.

Friday: 4.5 miles (7:03)

Saturday: 9.8 miles with 8x.15 mile fast, .35 mile jog. Averaged 4:24 on the fast running but I could tell I'm still way, way out of shape.  I couldn't get a quick turnover and it felt like I was running on flat tires or something.  The last two had me huffing and puffing.

Sunday: 15.9 miles (6:42). Ran a pretty rolling route with three pretty nasty hills, with Spencer. Legs felt a little worn from yesterday and I was absolutely crawling up the hills.

Week Total: 60.3 miles.  Yeah, I was about 15ish miles lower than expected but it was a tough week back.  My two semi-quality days showed me that I can maybe get back into a rusty, but much more fit spot in six weeks or so.  This week, I really will be in the 80s.  Or else.