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June 03, 2010

Grandma's Marathon - Tom Hancock

Written by Dena Evans

Training for Grandma’s

Under coach Tom’s guidance, I’ve completed a tough training cycle and am beginning the taper for Grandma’s marathon in on June 19th.  To answer the questions I get most often, 1) it’s in Duluth, MN, 2) because that was the time of year that worked for when I could train for and run a marathon (after a March vacation in Egypt)., and 3) yes, it can be hot, but that’s my best chance at decent weather. (People who know Minnesota also mention insects, which is a bit of a worry.)

I live in a Boston suburb and have run (pause to count) 15 marathons, 11 of them as a member of Focus-n-Fly.

My first FnF marathon was Hartford in 2003. I ran that in 3:50. My fastest was Philadelphia in 2006 in 3:21:48. So it’s safe to say that coach Tom’s training plans have been effective. At the time I ran Philadelphia, I needed a 3:20 to qualify for Boston, so I ramped up to try and get just a little bit  faster. As it turned out I’ve yet to achieve that, defeated by the heat in Chicago in ’07 (I actually switched and ran the Maine marathon instead, but it was still too hot) and hitting the wall and a head wind in Tampa in ’08. With advancing age, Tampa (and Maine, and St George in ’09) all redundantly qualified me for Boston ’09, and I ran my hometown marathon in a relatively relaxed way as a celebration of finally qual’ng (it’s a bit overhyped, frankly). Now I’m back to thinking about time and possibly a last attempt at a PR before age gets the better of me (I’m 46). As a cold weather runner, I’m not putting all my eggs in that basket, unless the weather is unseasonably cold in Duluth, but  I want to at least re-qualify for Boston and run a race that makes me confident enough to build on for the late Fall.

While June is an iffy time to run a marathon it’s a great time to train for one in the Northeast, with cool spring weather for the peak mileage months.  This cycle Tom has had me running more tempo and marathon pace workouts, mixed in with some fast intervals, I have two friends running Grandma’s with me, so I’ve been doing most of my long runs with them. Midweek I’ve typically done back to back ~10 milers, one at maintenance pace and one as a speed workout with a big tempo segment. That’s a convenient setup for me since I live about 10 miles from work, so with careful planning about where my clothes are I can use this as my commute. Throwing in some faster intervals on most Mondays, and a couple recovery/maintenance runs have me doing 55-60 mile weeks for the last month or so. I also do two strength training sessions a week, which I’ve found to be quite helpful.

Of course no FnF marathon training program would be complete without “The Guiness” (10×1mi @ threshold – so named for the optimal recovery beverage) and “The Big Workout” (4 x 1200 at 10K rit 65 min @ MGP rit 4 x 1200 @ 10K). The Guiness went well this cycle, though the big workout was a bit of a bump in the road, as I had to back off MGP a bit and skip the last two 1200’s. Hopefully that was just a bad day. My personal twist is that once coach Tom started putting me on 22-24 milers as my last long run, I decided that I might as well just run another marathon at maintenance pace as a “practice marathon”. While non-marathoners tend to think this is a bit crazy, I highly recommend this training technique! It’s so much more fun to run a marathon  a minute or so slower/mile than you can, soaking in the scene, than it is to do yet another 20+ miler on some all too familiry route . Just don’t be drawn in by the competition and run too fast. This weekend I ran the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington as that  race. I’m a little bit sore, but I’ll recover quickly and hopefully be ready for Grandma’s in three weeks!

**Note:  Tom Hancock has been running with Focus-N-Fly for more than 7 years.  The workouts that he references and associated mileage were a result of gradual progression over time, consistent with our approach.

Last modified on October 10, 2010
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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