Post by: Max King, Swiftwick athlete.
The Olympic Trials Marathon is another of those BIG races that fry my nerves beforehand. When you compound a lot of high stress factors into one race, it has a tendency to over-exaggerate the level of anxiety you feel going into it.
The race is possibly the most competitive race in the country since it’s only held every four years, and I’ve been training hard for several months with no tests to confirm that I’m doing the right stuff. Being able to control that anxiety is what sets athletes apart. I’m lucky at this point in my career that I’ve been through all that before. Plus, I’ve got other stuff on my plate to where I still want to have a good race but the next four years don’t rely on what I do on that day.
So being in LA was a chance to focus on the race but also learn how to relax a bit before hand. I hit the beach for an evening, watched a movie, and worked on some business stuff I needed to get done, successfully taking my mind off the upcoming challenge. Not even missing the bottle drop off for fluids on Friday could derail my race plan (my own fault). I had a back up.
I was ranked 50th or so based on my recent marathon time. Going in, it was my goal to not only beat that but to hopefully redeem myself from my 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon where I placed 19th. I knew due to the temperatures that a marathon PR (2:14:34) probably wasn’t doable, but I could still have a strong race and make sure that I’m reeling people in over the last 10 miles. So, that’s exactly what I did, splitting the race into each lap.
Lap 1: Well we’re just getting warmed up, and it was right on my pace, so I sat right on the back of the lead pack.
Lap 2: Just hangin’ on the back. Stay on my own pace and run my own race.
Lap 3: Fading a bit more than I wanted until Ben Payne and Malcom Richards came up on me. We worked together for all of Lap 3 and half of Lap 4. They both looked strong.
Lap 4: Just have a good lap. Running with Ben and Malcom worked great. I was surprised to find them fading the last couple miles after looking so strong earlier, but I managed to hold them off and pick off several more people.
I ultimately moved up to 12th place in 2:17:18.
While just missing the top 10 was a bit disappointing, being up that high was huge for me despite the slow time. It was slow for everyone. I executed a well run race for me. I was patient, but I pushed when I needed to and was smart about my nutrition (6 gels, 1 ever 3 miles starting at mile 9).
Needless to say now, but I’m happy with it and it shows me I’m in good shape heading into the rest of the season and Comrades coming up in May. Lots more road running to do but first, a ski vacation to Vail and then a little race in Venezuela.
My unblistered feet are thanking Swiftwick for the lucky Red ASPIRE socks that have now completed Western States, World 100k Champs, US XC Champs, Ultravasen 90k, and now the Olympic Trials Marathon. Yes, same pair, no holes, and washed between.