He was a Big East Cross Country Champion and an All American in that sport and a fair to
middlin' track runner. One of our regular readers, Bill Schnier was Eric's coach at UC. Post college he managed to run a sub four minute mile. After school the former Bearcat now an engineer moved to Minnesota to further his running career and then turned west to the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest where he now lives in Eugene, OR. On Saturday Oct. 13, this year he won the Goodlife Fitness Marathon in Victoria, British Columbia. Had I known a bit earlier, I'd have gone to watch the race, but Eric has been kind enough to supply us with his own account of how he managed a win in this race. Admittedly he is not yet a great marathoner but his 2 hr 17 minute effort is still something to write home about. It was his third marathon, his first win, and his times have shown consistency with 2:17, 2:16, and 2:17 in his resume. He's qualified for the US Olympic Trials in February and will start getting ready. What I find fascinating is Eric's insight and planning for this race and his attention to detail in describing the various stages as the race progressed. He is modest almost to a fault, but he also has a lot of confidence and a great sense of humor. George
Here is his account of his race in Victoria.
|Andrea Lee, Black Creek, BC womens' winner and|
Eric Finan, men's winner
photo from Victoria Times Colonist
8:00am - Victoria Marathon
Daniel Kipkoech had won this race for the 5 previous years in a row, so I had done a little research beforehand and graphed out his splits by the 10k (because I'm an engineer) to evaluate how he liked to race over the years. Even though his best finish time of the past 5 years was 2:20:04, the trend was obvious: he liked going out fast (fastest 10k split was 30:30) and then slowing down.
After talking with Tim (Coach? ed.) about it before the race, we decided it would be the best learning experience for the Trials to go out with the leader(s), hang with any surges, stay patient, makes moves after 20 and try to win.
Late entries into the race:
Jonathan Kipchirchir Chesoo, PB 2:10:27 (2010)
Kip Kangogo, PB 2:15:26 (2015)
[4:59, 5:11, 5:07, 5:23, 5:08]
Getting off the line was pretty easy as there weren't too many people fighting for the starting mat, even though it was a combined start for both the full and half marathon. The defending champ, Daniel Kipkoech, got off the line like a freshman trying out for a track practice. Looking good for those starting line photos, but once we got to the 1k mark the top 6 of us ran right by him and his respiration rate was like he just finished an all out....well, kilometer. He eventually dropped and reported to the press he "pulled his hamstring". It quickly settled out to being three guys in front (racing the half), a small gap, and then Chesoo, Kangogo, and me in a line. We cruised through the first 5 miles without much fanfare. Lots of turns, a decent bit of undulating elevation changes, but I was lucky that Chesoo didn't make any indication that he didn't want to lead and I just got to relax. At about the 5k mark, Kevin Colon (hailing from Missouri, ran at OK State, friend/teammate of infamous Max Storms, aka mstorms, aka Steve Megahorse) caught up to us on the uphill in Beacon Hill Park. He was running the half and didn't know what he was quite capable of that day (goal was sub-70), so I encouraged him to just jump on the train, relax, and don't even think about making any moves.
[5:06, 5:03, 5:15, 5:16, 5:14]
This section of the race I don't have much to add. We still ran plenty of turns. Ran up some hills, ran down some hills. Chesoo threw in a couple of light surges on the downhills, but nothing serious enough to raise any alarms. At the 13k mark (~8 miles) the half marathon guys split right and full marathon left. In the leading couple of miles up to it, two of the half marathon guys ahead of us had fallen off the leader and we were slowing making ground. Encouraging Kevin with, "the guy is oragne and the guy in yellow are coming back--they're yours," I wished him well and then it was just Chesoo, Kangogo, and me with a lead biker and pace car.
[5:19, 5:04, 5:04, 5:16, 5:17]
We clipped the 11 mile split in 5:19 (net 0ft elevation change) for one of our slowest miles so far in the race and I was getting a little anxious. I knew it was early in the race and wanted to be patient, but coming through miles 9-11 I was feeling pretty good and chilling through some nice neighborhoods as we clipped along. At the beginning of mile 12, we started up a decent incline and Chesoo (who had been solely leading up to this point), started running ~5:35 pace and it was just slow enough for me to want to make a move because I was feeling good. I struck on the opportunity, cresting the remaining ~200 meters of the hill, and then kept the pressure on for the remainder of the mostly downhill mile, resulting in the 5:04 split. This cracked Kangogo, but Chesoo was not deterred and stuck right with my surge. I slightly weaved on a few turns with a few more ~5 second surges to test Chesoo after this mile, but he rode right with me through each of them. Much to my delight when I slowed on a turn and went wide, he took the inside to gain the lead and let me back into his slipstream before the halfway mark and I was determined to get back into relaxation mode. At miles 13 and 15 he threw in 20 second surges of ~4:40-50 pace and I knew I just had to hang in there because it was becoming increasingly evident to me that I had a good chance of being the victor of this duel, based upon his respiration rate on the uphills and his pace between surges.
[5:20, 5:17, 5:28, 5:14, 5:36]
Chesoo continued to lead and I matched his only surge right after mile 18 at the crest of a hill. Looking at the clock I was getting hungry, but I reminded myself that I would be more pleased with a 2:18 and winning than a 2:16 and dragging another guy along to wind up 2nd. Primary goal was to win, secondary goal was a PR. With this mantra on my mind and looking at the bottle support station mile marks that I had written on my arm with a sharpie, I had figured that my best shot would be to make a move after the last bottle support station at 22.3 miles, thinking that I would take a couple sips, recover from the gulps and then try to break Chesoo. But then the 20th mile split of 5:36 (5:25 for the Strava generally accepted pace to account for the uphill) convinced me otherwise, especially as I recognized I was feeling much better than Chesoo on the uphills.
[4:59, 5:08, 5:14, 5:29, 5:22, 5:27, 1:24]
We made a left after 20 miles up a short steep hill and I saw my opportunity. I quickly shot past Chesoo up ~150 meter hill to try and create some separation, crested the hill and kept the gas on because I was feeling pretty good. The remainder of that mile was downhill (total ~50 ft) and I estimate I put ~60 meters on Chesoo. I kept the accelerator down on account of wanting to make clear separation to break Chesoo and followed up with another two strong miles and by 40k I had a 2 min lead. That being said, my final 5k was nothing to write home about. Even though I was in the lead and had nothing else to lose, I just couldn't find any more motivation (or umph) to fight off a significant drop in pace. Since the half marathon and full marathon had started at the same time, the road was littered with 2 hour plus half marathoners being diverted to either side of the road by the lead motorcyles and pace car. Despite their constant encouragement (or surprise, typified by, "holy sh!t!"), I couldn't muster the effort to even maintain pace and left ~30 seconds out on the course on those last few miles. That aside, coming into the file mile, having convinced myself that the win was mine to lose, I reminded myself to enjoy this experience thoroughly, as it is possible that this will be the only competitive marathon I ever win. Coming down the homestraight I gave plenty of waves, points to the crowd, and my cheeks almost cramped from smiling. So thankful for that experience and I will never forget it for the rest of my life.
1. Don't drink as much fluid the morning of the race. I had a cup of coffee 3 hours out, followed by 16 oz of gatorade. Then 20 oz of GenUCAN with 300 mg of caffeine added 2 hours out. Next time try reducing gatorade consumption to 10oz and GenUCAN to 16oz to prevent sloshbelly.
2. The marathon is a long race. No need to respond to moves like a 1500 runner, but probably good to make them like one.
3. Even if I don't want to take fluids at each station, at least swish my bottle contents in my mouth at each station. This was a good strategy later in this race as my stomach became less accepting of additional fluids.
[Side note: swishing has legit performance benefits, see below:
-Study by Grant, Turner, et al. showed that swishing around Carbs enhanced neural activation network. It increased activity in the motor cortex and “regions involved in reward processing.” This explains why swishing around carbs and spitting them out seems to work.]
4. Leading into the Trials, higher volume will benefit me. This was the latest in a marathon to date that I started to break down, but it was still too early.
Split | Time |Pace
0-10K | 0:32:01 | 5:09
10-HM | 1:07:58 | 5:13
HM-30k | 1:37:17 | 5:18
30k-40k | 2:10:25 | 5:20
I think this was ~90-120 seconds slow of an equivalent effort on a flat and evenly paced race. That gives me some encouragement, but also tells me that I need to change some things to have a respectable showing at the Trials.