Dot McMahan - Olympic Marathon Trials
by RunMichigan Staff, Apr. 9, 2008
Olympic Marathon Trials
DM: It’s been a rough winter in Michigan. Nevertheless effort is effort. I’ve had to disregard the watch for a few workouts and honestly those were probably some of my best ones. We also had to make some last minute changes to planned workout locations, to ones with better footing, and such. I think just keeping an open mind during those days helped me stay focused and hit paces regardless of conditions. We also took a trip down to Florida which helped break up the winter, and gave us feedback as to where of our level of fitness was at, without icy footing. RM: Do you think training with a group gives you an advantage(s) over the women who train solo? What are some of the draw backs of training in a group that you have encountered?
DM: The most important advantage is that I am comfortable racing in a group because my workouts have been with two other women. I don’t get caught up in racing at mile 8, like a solo-trained runner might. With the race course being along the Charles River it will be windy. Because of the wind, like last year in Boston, I think the women will group up for at least a portion of the race. Being comfortable racing in a group will be an asset for race day.
There’s really not any major drawback to training with a group. It’s no different than working at an office or going to school - there’s a group dynamic that each individual adds their personality trait to, most days its great, some days there can be conflict, but mostly it’s all good. RM: What workout has given you the most confidence as the trials are almost here?
DM: I’ve always believed the 2 x 6 mile workout at 5 seconds faster than race pace is a great indicator of fitness. It’s a tough workout. The first 6 miles usually goes well, but the second set can go either way. This year we had to run the workout on a 2 mile loop which added to the monotony. Good practice for the Trials, of course, but boring as heck. It went well for nearly everyone, so I’d say we’re race ready! RM: What would you say is your greatest strength/advantage going into the trials and why?
DM: I’ve evolved into a patient runner over the last few years. I think marathoning takes a lot of patience and just plain trust in yourself. It’s a long race if you race from the gun. By race, I mean start making moves as a reaction to the competition. My plan is to feel out my pace the first couple miles and then find a group to run with until its race time. It’s different for every marathon, so I can’t tell you beforehand when I’ll start to race, but I’ll know when the time is right. I like to race more on feel rather than by my watch; which is something I’ve just learned about myself in the last year.
RM: What do you think is your biggest weakness going into the trial and what are you doing to limit that weakness?
DM: I don’t like to take naps. I’ve forced myself to take more naps and to go to bed earlier than I like. I’ve been going to bed around 9pm. If I’m in bed then, there’s a greater chance I’ll fall asleep earlier. RM: What would it take for you to walk away from the trials happy/content? If you are willing to say, what is your goal for the trials?
DM: Well of course I have a time goal, but I learned at Boston last year that a time does not define effort. I’d like to have a 100% heart and soul effort out there. In terms of team Hanson-Brooks, I want to see one of us make the team. I really believe all of this is possible.
RM: What are your thoughts on racing in Boston? How big do you think the crowd will be and what do you think the overall atmosphere will be like?
DM: You know, I was extremely disappointed with the crowds last year. The weather scared a lot of spectators away. I hope this year is different. I really need people out there screaming and making noise.
RM: What are some of the foods that you just cannot get enough of during this heavy training phase? Are there any foods that you try to avoid during such a heavy training phase?
DM: With each marathon segment, training becomes more like a normal segment and less of a heavy training phase. Honestly, I haven’t had any cravings. However, before a workout (earlier on in the segment), my husband made turkey meatloaf and then I felt great the next day! Since then, I’ve been eating it a lot. I know it is not the traditional pre-race pasta dinner, but I’m hoping to have something similar with potatoes the night before the big day. It just seems to work for me. RM: Have you had any setbacks with your training leading up to the trials and if so, what were they and how did you deal with them?
DM: No, I haven’t really had any setbacks during this marathon training segment. RM: When do you see your last hard workout heading into the trials being and what will it be?
DM: Our last workout is about a week from the race, 3 x 2 miles. We do some build-ups during that week as well. But a workout at this point is not intended to be hard, as much as it is something to calm our nerves.
RM: When will your last long run be heading into the trials and what will it be? How long has your long run been so far?
DM: Our last long run will be about ten days out. We’ll incorporate some faster miles in there to simulate running race pace on tired legs. We’ve done a few 20 milers this segment, but we run high mileage all year round so we’re accustomed to runs of that length.