Archive for November, 2007

It Didn’t Take Long

It didn’t take long for Nick Whited (Raven, VA) to start tasting success. Nick won the Mountain Masters 16 Mile Trail Run in Harlan, Kentucky last Saturday. Nick took the early lead and held through 9.5 miles when another runner pulled alongside and tried on several occasions to surge and drop Nick. Nick responded by matching the surges while still maintaining his composure and gearing for the finish. The other runner attempted yet another move on a mile long stretch that gained 800 feet of altitude, but again Nick matched the move. At mile 14.5, the two were side by side on to just 150 meters from the finish when the other runner began his kick. Nick had a trump card in his hand and unleashed a kick of his own that couldn’t be matched that day. Nick collapsed as he crossed the finish line with a time of 1:52:47 ( a near two minute PR) on the brutal mountain trail course.

End of a Successful Season

Anne and Mark Lundblad (Swannanoa, NC) were at it again last weekend at JFK 50 Miler, America’s oldest and most prestigious ultra marathon. In the 45th running, over 1400 runners toed the line at one of the two (5:00AM or 7:00AM) starts. The race is held in Boonesboro, MD. Both Mark and Anne put the finishing touches on near story-book successful seasons.

Mark ran 6:09:17 for 4th place and a near 11 minute PR. After coming off the Appalachian Trail (approximately mile 17) Mark was in 7th, but steadily chugged away to catch and pass several runners who struggled from going out too aggressively. Coming off the tow path (mile 42), Mark was in 4th, but appeared as if he and the third place runner may have been able to overtake the current second place runner. However, when the three runners could smell the finish line, they all found additional strength and the gap between the three remained nearly the same for the last 8 mile stretch on the road.

In the women’s race, Anne came across the Appalachian Trail section relaxed and in control and emerged from the trail about one minute down on first place. The gap was quickly whittled as Anne’s superiority on the flat, fast tow path surface took control. Anne’s lead continued to grow down the 26 miles of the tow path and final 8 mile stretch on the road, and her only competition seemed to be from the top 10-men’s field. Anne’s time of 6:42:50 was a new Master’s course record by 37 minutes 22 seconds and was 3rd fastest all-time.

They Said it Couldn’t Be Done

There are a lot of people who owe Mike Cox (Athens, WV) an apology.

After achieving his US Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier just 27 days prior to the Trials race, the “Chat Site” experts said things like “He’ll finish dead last. Noone can run two good marathons that close together” or “It can’t be done. He shouldn’t even bother.”

Mike doesn’t recall asking their opinions.

Mike set about an aggressive recovery program after Chicago which included rest, diet, extra sleep when he could, and carefully selected workouts which would help maintain his extreme fitness level without shoving him back into post-race exhaustion.

As Mike arrived at the Trials host hotel in New York City on Thursday and began to mingle and talk to the other athletes, one common phrase was spoken by his fellow qualifiers—“You’re the one!” Everyone knew Mike had been the lone Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier at Chicago and knew the extreme conditions under which he had done it. Following most “You’re the one!” comments was “Are you going to be ready for Saturday?” Any experienced marathoner knew it was going to be a tough gig to pull off. Mike even wondered himself.

As Mike assessed his race chances, he knew that out of 160 US Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers they would shake down into a number of categories and sub-categories:

1) About 20 guys who legitimately had a chance to make the Olympic Team—many of whom would drop out as they realized that “Today just wasn’t their day” or would quickly change focus to another upcoming race opportunity.

2) A number of guys who had races come together which allowed them to qualify but wouldn’t be able to match that “race of a lifetime” again.

3) A number of guys who got qualifiers under idea conditions which weren’t predicted on a hilly Central Park course with hurricane remnants blowing through.

4) A large number of great National Class marathoners who would show up to race on the day they had prepared so hard for and race tough.

Mike’s plan was to run a carefully paced race of 5:20-5:25 per mile and see what happened. He knew that if he got pulled into a pace too aggressive under such a short turnaround that the keyboard prophets might end up right.

When the gun went off, the pack of THE most elite went out at a pedestrian pace, just over 5:30 for the first mile. Mike found himself in second place at 5:20 running just according to plan. After about 4 miles, when those in the pack finally decided they wanted to run, the pace quickened considerably into what turned out to be the deepest and fastest finish field by time in US Olympic Trials history. Mike’s pace varied as the rolling terrain in Central Park. Mike’s 1:08:54 was perfect for the first half marathon as he ran his paced effort while the race went on around him. At the finish Mike was 41st place overall at 2:20:12, another marathon PR by 90 seconds from his race in Chicago just 27 days before and an improvement of 67 places from his seed position of 108.

Mike’s plan for the future includes a well deserved rest after his two closely spaced marathons and his wedding in December before concentrating on the 10,000 on the track this spring.

Back on Track

Steve Crowder (Botetourt, VA) won the Pipestem Pumpkin Run Saturday in Pipestem State Park in Athens, WV. Known for its grueling rolling hills, the park provides a gorgeous backdrop for a fall 10K race. Steve ran a very consistent paced race, as all but his first downhill mile which was a bit faster, were right around 5:40 for a total time of 35:22, a time which reflects the toughness of the course. Steve had won the 5K there in 2002, but now owns crowns at both distances. Steve has been making slow and steady progress back to his top form since the birth of Kaitlyn, Steve and Leslie’s new baby girl.