Taking advice from the pros⏱

Lap 86: Sponsored by Tracksmith

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Valencia Half Marathon 🇪🇸

How do we get roads like Valencia’s here in the United States? The pothole-less speedway has become synonymous with fast times over the past four or five years, as athletes flock to the Spanish shores for new personal bests.

But one man who wasn’t able to pull off the PB was Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie. He just couldn’t get it done! But don’t feel bad for him — he still won the race. The worst part about having a 57:32 half marathon to your name is that it’s a lot harder to improve on that time than it is for literally just about anyone else alive. The former world record holder is now number two, only behind Jacob Kiplimo by a single second.

When our protagonist ran that record in 2020 it was predictably in Valencia, but with better conditions. Although it may be cool enough to wear a light jacket in the northeast during October, 62 degrees is considered warm for 13 miles.

The Kandie man was not intimidated by the fact that his primary competitor, Yamif Kejelcha, holds the indoor mile world record, and believed in his kick. After a conservative opening, he closed it down hard to run 58:10 (the tenth fastest time ever) over the now-Ethiopian record holder’s time of 58:32.

Behind the pair was a bunch of notable results that readers of this newsletter may be interested in. Like that Ed Cheserek ran a new best of 1:00:13. Or how Biya Simbassa ran 1:00:37 for the fifth fastest time ever by an American. And for our Canadian readers who have tattooed Rory Linkletter’s national record of 1:01:08 to their lower back — you may want to sit down for this next bit… Ben Flanagan held off Cam Levins (now of Asics?) in a time of 1:01:00 to 1:01:04 to rewrite the record books.

On the women’s side it was all about the incredible debut by Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen! The Union Athletics star was not herself at points during this outdoor season, like when she fell short of making the 5000m final at the World Championships. But she bounced back from that disappointment to medal in the European 10,000m and then to win the 5000m on home soil.

And the momentum continued off the track, as Klosterhalfen crushed her first time going the (half) distance winning in 65:41 — the third fastest time ever by a European. For those who remember when KoKo ran her solo 10,000m record in 31:01 on a humid night in Austin, Texas, during the Trials of Miles, then this is no surprise. And even if you’ve only ever watched her do a stride before a race, then this is no shocker, probably, also.

Lashinda Demus rightfully earns her gold 🥇

I am publicly calling upon the Olympic’s social media manager to change the title of this video. That’s because Russia’s Natalya Antyukh did not win the race. It may have taken ten years for the true results, but Lashinda Demus is finally being honored properly — as the Olympic Champion. This is not “official-official” yet, but the paperwork should hopefully be done soon.

Although Antyukh hasn’t competed since 2016, she was officially banned by the AIU for performance-enhancing drugs in 2021. All results dating back to 2013 were initially erased, but that now extends further back to pre-Olympics. It would seem the best method for handling these cases would be that every result in a career immediately is disqualified. If you cheat in 2022, then even the race you won on the playground in elementary school should be overturned.

Before Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad, there was Lashinda Demus. The 2011 World Champion ran 52.47 seconds to set the American Record. And when history is corrected, the United States will have won three straight Olympic 400m hurdles titles.

Advice from the professionals! 🍎

I’ve had no shame in crowdsourcing the collective wisdom of the running community to help steer me on my own path to the starting line of my first marathon. Fortunately, I am in a position where I was also able to ask some of the best marathoners in the country for some advice. Maybe some of their thoughts could help you in your next big race! Oh, and of course, I asked for predictions too.

“When you’re fit, the first few miles of the marathon will feel like you’re jogging. With all marathons, you need to be as smart as possible for as long as possible because it’s not the aerobic system that is going to max out like in most races. The limiting factor will be the pounding of the pavement and your fuel intake. Debuting at the NYC marathon seems about as hard as a balancing act can get while trying to learn the distance with one of the toughest last 10ks in the world. I think three key words; respect, humility, and patience, can help you stay centered and focused on what matters as you wait for the inevitable pain of the marathon to kick in. And I’m thinking 2:23 on the NYC course assuming you don’t start walking and that you try to consume 600-800 calories.”

Parker Stinson, 2:10:53, US 25K record holder

“I don’t know if my one-time marathon gives much wisdom. But in your first marathon, make sure you don’t get carried away in the first 13 miles. You should be feeling good by 10k. If you feel excited and want to adjust your goal, wait until you’re 18 miles in before you begin speeding up. My prediction is 2:20:42. Fast enough that you’ll be confident to hit the OTQ on a fast course with some minor adjustments.”

Conner Mantz, 2:08:16, second fastest debut by an American

(Kyle Note: Two months ago Conner said 2:23 to 2:27 so I’ve won him over.)

“I’d say I still have a lot to learn about the marathon but for NYC/general wisdom: it goes by faster than you think! The hardest part is you may find yourself alone if you are stuck between packs, so call on any solo tempos or long runs to get you through. Just focus bottle to bottle (it breaks up the race because, yay snacks!). Hang tough on the Queensboro mountain and well done on choosing the best marathon in the world for your experience! I don’t know enough for a time prediction, but I think you will get the trials Q and I stand by the idea that NYC is a slow course by 2-3 mins!”

Molly Huddle, 2:26:33, 3rd at her debut at the NYCM, 28x US Champ

“If I learned anything about marathons from sitting on Ruth Chepng’etich for 2 hours and 14 minutes at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, it’s that if you want to run a fast marathon, you gotta really go for it.

So Kyle, in your debut marathon at the TCS New York City Marathon (in which I’ve publicly made MY goal to beat YOUR time), my advice for you is if you reaaaalllllllly want it, you gotta Ruth it. Throw away your perception of a conservative, negative split marathon. I suggest you THRIVE in the first half and SURVIVE the second half. Marathoning 101, bro. Throw caution to the wind and let the NYC Bridges and the energetic crowds pull you through the last 10 miles. They won’t let you down.

OK, but seriously…Know what you are going to stubbornly and relentlessly tell yourself when your legs get heavy and your mind is tired. And what you will say is, "if I slow down, Keira is such a pompous winner, she will never let me live this down. So I’m gonna put the ‘hammer’ in ‘hammer time’ and never surrender.”

Nitty-gritty reminders: make sure to get in the carbs (food and liquid version) and electrolytes in the days leading into the race. Fuel in the race before you need to, easier to front load. Be conservative. Be patient. The race within the race starts at mile 20. Set yourself up to have something in the tank come mile 20.

Time prediction: 2:19:12”

Keira D’Amato, 2:19:12, Second fastest American ever

“The biggest thing is staying controlled and trusting your training. There will be without a doubt a time you feel better than you thought you would and times you feel worse. However, as long as you’ve prepared well, the true battle will just be the one with yourself. Also, given my current information, I will play it safe and predict you will finish.

(15 minutes later)

Just saw some workouts you posted. Never mind! I am going with 2:15:37!”

Nathan Martin, 2:11:05, 8th at the NYCM in 2021

“Some advice…Get a world record bonus in your contract beforehand — just in case. And halfway is at 20 miles.”

Jared Ward, 2:09:25, 6th at the 2016 Olympics

Catching up with Scott Fauble

One of the American men that TV viewers can expect to see much of on November 6th is Scott Fauble. With a marathon personal best of 2:08:52, Scott has proven himself as a consistent presence near the front of World Marathon Majors as he has twice finished 7th in Boston and was 7th here in the Big Apple in 2018. Maybe this will be his luckiest year yet and he’ll finish 6th?

In addition to my fun conversation with Scott here, my CITIUS MAG colleagues caught up with him on a run in Boulder last week, which you can watch and subscribe to above.

Kyle: We are less than two weeks away now. How is everything feeling?

Scott: Training has been good. I don’t have to do any more 115-mile weeks. The last one was actually 118.

How does that compare to what you’ve done previously?

It's a little bit higher than before Boston, but it's been way nicer weather. It's much easier to get out the door — even when you're not feeling good — when it's 60 degrees and sunny every afternoon.

Some people argue that Boulder is an awkward altitude in that you're not quite getting all the benefits possible. Does it feel much different than when you were in Flagstaff?

I think 5,000 feet is much easier than 7,000 feet. But one thing Joe [Bosshard] has been into is this thing called “altitude density” with like the pressure in the air, given if it has rained, the temperature, and stuff like the barometric pressure changes. Altitude training is basically just a measure of pressure.

This fall he's always been saying, “it is a low-altitude day!” As opposed to the summer when it’s hot, you’re getting more high-altitude days and you run slower. I don't care that much about altitude since I was born at it.

From now on any day that I am tired after a shitty night of sleep will be referred to as a high-altitude day.

That’s fair.

With this being your eighth marathon, do you constantly look back on old logs and reflect on what you did previously and compare them?

I used to do that and it was an issue for me. I felt like I was racing my ghost occasionally, especially during big sessions. We would do a 16-mile steady state or and I'd be like, ‘I did this in 5:12 last time so 5:10 would be good.” And what I should have been doing is focusing on staying smooth.

Is there a particular workout that you've done in this build-up that you are going to draw the most confidence from? Readers will appreciate any hard numbers!

I've only done like one build-up with Joe as my coach and it was really, really windy and cold in the winter before Boston. So times have been faster. But that doesn't necessarily mean they’re better given how good the conditions have been.

So you've done New York before and it went well. Is it fair to say that your thing is being pretty consistent at these Majors now? What lessons are you taking with you into this race?

I think that's true — it’s a good thing to have. I’ve only ever had one stinker.

I think the key is having more faith in myself now than I have ever had in my career. Running a marathon is a skill in and of itself. You understand that there’s going to be a stretch in the middle that sucks where you are pretty far in and tired, but can't quite see the finish yet. That part gets grindy, but it’s not going to be a surprise. And I know that if I can just get through that part and come out the other side that the legs are going to be there. All the training and my past performances would suggest that I'm going to be able to close and so it’s just having that faith. If I can close hard there's going to be a lot of spots to be grabbed in those last five miles.

Is the goal exclusively place? I feel like at this point your personal best doesn’t really tell the story of how good you are at this thing.

Time is definitely not a concern in New York. I'd rather run 2:12 and be in the top five then go 2:08 and be ninth or whatever. There isn’t a specific place that is considered a success, though. Joe is big on the only thing we can control being how fit we are on the day, how well we run, and how good of decisions we make. If seven or eight people beat you, but you ran as well as you could, what more can you do?

I’ve been describing my goal as being less of a time and more of an emotion. I’ll know if I ran well afterward.

Yea, like making hard but smart decisions early and then being full of running at the end and actually capitalizing on it. You can have the energy and capability to dig and rip those last five miles. But if you don't have the will, it doesn't really matter.

You know we love asking this question at The Lap Count — are we going to see a new uniform on race day?

Shit, man. I hope so. There's still time to at least come to an agreement with a company, but nothing has been finalized at the moment.

Is that a chip on your shoulder or not a concern at this point?

I mean we are homeowners and I’ve been unsponsored for almost a year now. I've done well in my career, but I haven't done so well that I never have to worry about money again. So I would certainly like to be paid again to run. I don't think that's a wild statement, but in terms of the preparation or my motivation, I don't think it's a contributing factor. It's mostly like a logistical and financial concern over more than like I really need a sponsor to validate my worth.

I see that NYRR is giving you a five-minute head start over me. Do you think that is enough? Is there a lot of pressure knowing that I am coming?

It's nice to know that even if I have a bad day I have a five-minute cushion, and then I also have the ten-minute cushion of me just being better than you.

I asked a bunch of professionals this week for some advice. What do you have for me? I also need the official Kyle prediction on the books.

I think you should break the race up into segments. Feel good in Brooklyn. Expect Queens going into Manhattan to feel bad. Look forward to getting to Manhattan. And then once you get to Manhattan, you only have two sections left. You go to the Bronx, then you come back. Keep looking forward to the next section.

Don’t think about the race as 26 miles — just one mile at a time. And if you can stay positive, it'll take care of itself as long as you're prepared, which I don't know if you are. You haven't really been running enough, have you? You’re only doing like 60 miles a week.

I think if you spent a year training exclusively to run a really fast marathon I think you could probably go 2:16 or 2:17. I don't think it would be that hard for you. But I think off a few long runs I think 2:20 would be a really good day.

NYC Marathon - Vol. 9

The hay is in the barn. I wish there was a bit more hay in there, but this is what we got! Regret that I didn’t start this marathon build-up a few weeks earlier has been creeping into my idle thoughts more and more lately…But how many people show up to the starting line holding on for dear life, with their bones held intact with KT tape, and praying that a few choice days off can save them?

Instead, it feels like my trajectory is directed straight up. I don’t have plans to scale things back significantly, which was always my mindset approaching the end of the season as a professional miler, too. My thought was that if I could run the hard workouts in the middle of a 90-mile week, a moderate one coupled with a couple of easy days ought to be enough to liven the legs.

The first real session I did with the intent of training for this marathon was 6 x mile on the track with 60 seconds rest. It was nothing special, but I averaged 5:09, which wasn’t half bad coming off the couch and still recovering from many sleepless nights at the World Championships.

Fast forward to this past week and I had to push the workout off until Friday because I had multiple days in the office. That generally entails me rolling out of bed at 5:30 to shuffle through 5 miles in the dark before rushing to the train — not exactly the most conducive schedule. Especially because it means that I get maybe ten minutes with my daughter before and after work. God bless flexible work from home situations!

Anyway, the fastest mile I had run this block was a 4:58 at the end of a tempo, and so it felt like I was due to tune up with some “speed work.” And to tie a nice bow on the tail end of this experiment, it seemed appropriate to do mile repeats again to measure my progress.

As you may imagine, running more the past ten weeks has helped improve my splits. This time around I ran 8 x Mile w/ 60 seconds averaging 4:49. This is an objectively pretty good and normal session. Like, most professional track guys have probably done something that looks exactly like this during their fall base training.

Late in the game it was encouraging to do something that played to my strengths and to gain some confidence in the process. As I have been trying to assess how fast I think I may run, I’ve been trying to locate someone’s training log that could serve as an indicator. But no one that I have been able to find has the same history, skillset, or approach to the game as me. I’m a bit of an anomaly here because it’s not really fair for me to compare my workouts to someone running 120-mile weeks. They’re obviously more tired than me after my measly 63 miles and I’m sure most people at the front end of the pack never ran a 22 second flying start 200 before their adductors needed to be medically sewed back together

This Sunday I ventured north along the Hudson Valley to meet up with the Empire Elite squad for their long run. It was fun to run with so many friends and click off 17 miles worth of 6-flats. I figure if I couldn’t gain as much fitness as I’d have liked during the past few months, then I might as well lean into the freshness. Running only 17 miles felt like a shakeout.

There are doubts in my head that ebb and flow with an immense and irrational level of self-belief. But rather than focusing on the miles that I didn’t do, I have to concentrate on the ones that I did. And sometimes I need to remind myself that the goal is not to run the fastest marathon that I am physically capable of running. If that were the case I’d quit my job and be living in the mountains. The aim is to run the fastest marathon possible given the constraints of regular life — you know, like 99% of the field lining up.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • Olympian Kate Grace has shared via Instagram that she is pregnant! Fun fact: the first time I walked out of the hospital after my daughter was born, I literally bumped into Kate on the sidewalk.

  • In a controversial move at the World Backyard Ultra Champs, meet director Laz Lake accepted the agreement between two Belgian runners to share the win. The pair ran for 100 hours, the longest ever on the course, but tradition says there could only be one winner.

  • Eilish McColgan’s European 10k record of 30:18 was found to be measured incorrectly at the Great Scottish Run. Well, it’s a good thing the previous record of 30:19 was also hers!

  • One coach’s suggestion that athletes go dry (no alcohol) caused a lot of backlash on Twitter. On the surface, it’s not the worst advice in the entire world, but Kara Goucher had a very thoughtful response.

  • At the Mayor's Cup XC race at Franklin Park, Jordan Mann (23:52) and Bethany Hasz (16:47) took top honors.

  • Marshall University has reinstated its Men’s Indoor and Outdoor track teams.

  • At the Linz Marathon, Ethiopia’s Fikre Bekele (2:06:13) led 12 men under the 2:10 barrier. However, Race Results Weekly and LetsRun have both noted their suspicions around the course’s length. The Lap Count is taking no official stance, but we will confidently confirm that Linz is in Austria.

  • Down under, Jack Rayner won the Burnie 10k in 27:43 to break Craig Mottram’s Australian record by 11 seconds. Leanne Pompeani won the women’s event in 32:04.

  • At the World Cross Country Tour event in Bydgoszcz, Kenya’s Lucy Mawia and Levy Kibet won their respective races. If this Polish city seems familiar, it was the site of the 2013 World Cross Country Championships when the US men took silver.

  • Just your weekly reminder during the fall that no one does cross country harder than Spain, as nine World Tour events are held in the jamón capital of the world. Last year’s men’s tour winner, Rodrigue Kwizera from Burundi, won in Amorebieta comfortably, and on the women’s side it was the local, Isabel Barreiro. I’m trying to convince Chris that it’s worth funding a trip for me to go to Venta de Baños! Please respond to this email saying how this bullet point is the most interesting thing I’ve ever written!

  • Speaking of Chris, he was on the Coffee Club podcast this week. Maybe this is my ego talking, but I can’t help but think that Morgan McDonald is pretending he’s not obsessed with my marathon training.

  • Craig Engels revealed to Derek Rubis on The High Flying Hub podcast that he is no longer on Union Athletics and is back training with his college coach, Ryan Vanhoy.

Thank you so much to Tracksmith for supporting this week’s newsletter! I’m very excited to hopefully get one of their world-famous posters in New York with a time I am proud of.