A Short Reflection on Grandma’s Marathon

Jeffrey’s concise reflection on finishing 5th at Grandma’s Marathon in 2:13:12.

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My trip to Duluth for the 35th running of Grandma’s Marathon was an excellent learning experience. The race came a month after winning Pittsburgh, and 2 weeks after pacing 30K of the Ottawa Marathon. I was not worried about my time, race splits or trying to be top American– I was only running to win. I remained patient early on and worked into a good pace with the other top Americans, Matt Gabrielson and Tyler McCandless. By 18 miles I had pulled ahead and joined the lead group, which included several athletes I ran against in Pittsburgh (I may have heard the Swahili phrase for “Sh*t not again!”). I threw in a hard surge near a water station to break up the large group, and we went from a dozen to 6 athletes. 2:07:06 marathoner Charles Munyeki was one of the surprise casualties. Around 21 miles I fell off the front. A Flagstaff-based training partner from the previous week, Teklu Deneke Tefra, stayed in contact and narrowly missed victory in a sprint duel with Kenya’s Christopher Kipyego. After they pulled clear, I soldiered on to the finish in 2:13:12, a 57-second personal best and also currently the #3 U.S. performance for 2011. I also kept my record of negative splitting in tact, despite the pace variation once I joined the leaders.  I cannot be too disappointed with a race in which I took some risks and come out with a new personal best–but it leaves me hungry for more and I am confident I will only get better. I look forward to demonstrating that next in Daegu, no longer a rookie in the marathon.

Stay tuned for more comprehensive updates! –JDE

I run because…

Jeffrey’s update from home in Rochester, NY on National Running Day.

Greetings from Rochester, NY and Happy National Running Day! It definitely feels like June here in the Northeast– I’m still adjusting to the high humidity levels (albeit uncomfortable, it is good preparation for Daegu). After a weekend in Ottawa, where I paced 30K of the Marathon, I’m home visiting with family. It’s a nice abbreviated vacation from the Southwest– and a stark contrast to my last visit with Ali back in December for Christmas!

I am also excited to be visiting Rochester because this evening I have the opportunity to share my passion and experiences in the sport with my hometown running community. At 7:00PM tonight I will be speaking at Medved Running and Walking Outfitters on a variety of running-related topics, including: post-collegiate development, preparing for the marathon, altitude training and nutrition. Last year, I had the chance to meet Dan Medved at his longtime store-sponsored Medved Lilac 10K, and I’m very grateful to him for inviting me to visit with the running community in his store. Tonight’s event will be a great opportunity to discuss some of the many lessons that I have learned in the sport; I am also hoping it will be a way to express my gratitude to the supportive community that I grew up in!

Given that it is National Running Day, I think this is an appropriate time to reflect on the sport and its profound impact on our health and quality of living. I like the provocative question that we, as runners, are challenged to personally answer today: Why do you run? 

For me, in addition to having competitive aspirations, running has given me such a great model for personal development and growth. I enjoy the balance it provides me with, and it has been a great outlet for my energy. I enjoy being fit and active while participating in an activity that I hope to continue with my entire life. I also feel quite fortunate in the present to be able to pursue my passion as a careerpath. To quote MarathonGuide.com‘s philosophy: I Live2Run!

In this current running meditation, I also recall Coach Jack‘s adage that he offers his athletes: “The road traveled is certainly as important as is the destination because every day along the way is part of a person’s never-ending education.” And so I lace up my Brooks shoes each day and head out on a new road anxious to see where it might lead– enjoying the journey as opposed to thinking solely of the destination. To be more succinct:

Well thanks for reading; it’s time for me to head out for a run! –JDE