A few weeks ago we asked our readers about the topics they would like to read more about on The RunDown. We compiled the list t hen asked RunVermont staff and members of our running community to assist with the writing.
Thanks to Lyman Clark, our Invited Athlete Co-coordinator for interviewing these athletes:
- Matt Pelletier 4-time KBVCM Overall Champion
- Michael Wardian – multi-time KBVCM Men’s Open Runner-up
- Mary-Lynn Currier – 97 KBVCM Women’s Champion, 4-time KBVCM Women’s Master Champion
More info on our invited athletes is available here.
RunVermont: What events, experiences, and/or influences got you started into marathon training/racing?
Matt Pelletier (MP): I was too small to play football and missed soccer tryouts as a freshman. I decided to try cross country and fell in love with everything about. The team, the workouts, my coach, the bus trips, and of course challenging myself in every race. I still miss that camaraderie of a team. Even in high school, I knew that my best event would be the marathon some day. The longer the race, the better I seemed to do at it. I like the fact that even if you don’t have much talent but are willing to work hard at the marathon you can still do well at it.
Michael Wardian (MW): My experience with marathon running started with a trip to visit my friend Vince Voisin’s family for Easter my Junior year of College, 1995. I met Vicki Voisin and she had just run the Boston Marathon and I was entranced by the pictures, medal, space blanket and the pure bliss she was feeling it was contagious. I had always been interested in pushing myself but never knew anyone that had actually done a full marathon and I thought to myself if she can do then I can probably do it too so I asked her a ton of questions and got a training plan from her. I knew that I wanted to run the Boston Marathon so it was only after I got training that I realized that you had to run a marathon before Boston to qualify and that is why I ran my first marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. I ran 3:06 and I qualified for Boston and I figured I would just run the Boston Marathon once and that would be it and I would go on to do other things but after going to Boston for the marathon and being a part of the race I knew that I would run for as long as I could and that I would keep trying to improve as I wanted to have that experience over and over again.
Mary-Lynn Currier (MC): I was an exchange student in London, England and had been running Cross-Country in high school and for Ithaca College. I ran the perimeter of the parks in London every morning and couldn’t run track there. I saw the banners go up for the marathon. I was 19 years old, and never ran that far in my life. I went to Ireland to meet and stay with some relatives during my spring break and ran some long runs with my Uncle Charlie. I got lost running there for 3.5 hours one day and accidentally ran the longest run of my life. When I returned to London after spring break, I decided to sign up for the London Marathon. I started at the back thinking it would take me 5.5 hours, never having run a marathon before. It was before they invented timing chips and I walked 10 minutes after the cannon went off to start the race. I ran 2:55 clock time, which was really 2:45 from the time I started from the line. I was the 18th women finisher overall and it was the world championships. I didn’t know that. That day Ingrid Christianson broke the world record for women. I was hooked to marathon running after that race and have continued to run in marathons all the rest of my life.
RV: Can you share some details about your training (mileage/types of workouts/rest-recovery) and nutrition/diet habits/preferences when preparing for a marathon?
MP: My mileage peaked for the last 2 marathons at 150mpw. I like to do really high mileage and force my body to do hard workouts while tired from all the mileage. I feel it prepares you for what the later miles of the race will be like when you ask your body to keep working hard while you’re tired. We do very long workouts (usually 6-15 miles worth of speed work plus warm up, cool down, and rest. Almost everything is done on the roads, and usually very hilly roads. My staple workout is 12 X 1 mile. It’s grueling towards the end but once it’s over, it shows that I’m in great shape. We also do long tempos, and mix in some 400′s and 200′s to keep my legs sharp. I’d say at least once every 2 weeks we do a long run with the last 3-5 miles @ goal marathon pace. The long run is also an important part of our plan. Almost every week’s long run is at least 20 miles, with several runs of 22-28 miles
MW: Typically, when training for a marathon, I like to average 100-120 miles per week with a few faster, hard workouts, Track work, Tempo work, Long Runs…each day I try to average 15-20 miles. That said, I had my first bout with injury last year and I have since just been building my mileage back up and have incorporated more and more cross training (cycling, hiking, strength training) to augment my running andto keep me healthy going forward.
Regarding my diet, I try to eat lots of fruits (both fresh and dried), vegetables, lean proteins, and I am a vegetarian but I think it is most important to always keep experimenting with your body and trying new and different things to see how they work and affect you and your endurance.
I think that sleep is very important for recovery and that athletes need to find the right amount of rest so they can perform at their absolute peak.
MC: I tend to over train and start too fast. I think I eat too much and try really hard to hydrate. I run long runs every other week, and I don’t rest much. I just started running track workouts after several years of not doing that. I use shorter races as tempo runs. I bike or swim to try to create a muscle balance. I have been eating more protein, but tend to eat too many carbs, especially bagels.
RV: As a veteran KBVCM participant and top finisher, what first brought you to this marathon and what keeps you “coming back”?
MP: I raced on relay teams several times before I had ever run a marathon. In 2005 I took a new job and my training really suffered and I ran a poor marathon that fall. I quit that job and focused on running a fast spring 1/2 marathon in 2006. The 1/2 went really well and I decided to jump into the KBVCM at the last minute. I can’t say enough good things about the people involved with the race. They have something special here that I haven’t experienced with any other marathon I’ve been to. The people of Burlington also do an excellent job supporting the race. The crowd gets really into it. Other marathons should model their races after KBVCM’s design.
MW: I love being a part of great events and KBVCM is a great event. KBVCM is put on in a beautiful setting, with first class organization, a competitive field and tremendous fan support. I don’t think there is anything like running through the middle of town on Church street and then turning the corner into
Waterfront Park, those are experiences that are never forgotten.
MC: The kind people, beautiful community, and great race organizers. Driving through the mountains reminds me of being in Germany. I went there the summer after studying in London. I traveled all around Europe. I like being near water and mountains. I feel like I can breath better. It is always a challenge to come back to a marathon you have won or placed in over the years and try to do it one more time the older you get.
RV: What do you find most gratifying about marathon racing?
MP: The running community as a whole is a great thing to be a part of. I think it comes from a mutual respect. Anyone who’s finished a marathon regardless of their time has done achieved something amazing. Church St. after the marathon is a great example of this. Runners interacting with other runners that they don’t even know so happy for each other. I love being a part of that.
I also like that even though a race can have only one winner, everyone in the race can achieve their goals, whether that be setting a PR or just finishing the race. Some of my best races have been races I didn’t win.
Being a runner who doesn’t have a lot of pure running talent, and flawless running form, I like that because I’m willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to run well that I can still be successful at this sport. I’ve been running marathons for 10 years now and I still expect to PR every time I line up. Being unhappy if I don’t PR makes me want it that much more for the next one.
MW: I think what I find most gratifying about marathon racing is pushing the boundaries of what I and other people think is possible and love the process of trying to keep improving. I thoroughly enjoy the training as much as the racing and look forward to stretching my personal limits.
MC: Being able to still place overall, even though I am much older and being able to come away from the experience feeling ageless, timeless, and renewed in spirit.
RV: What words of wisdom could you share with novice and/or up-and-coming marathoners?
MP: Trust in your training. Believe in the work you’ve done. On race day stick to the plan, and don’t get sucked out too fast, even if you’re feeling good. If you still feel good after 20 miles, start to pick it up a little bit with every mile. If you still feel good when you finish, time to set a faster goal for next time and work towards that goal accordingly. I’m a fan of running by effort. Uphill miles will be slower at the same effort (especially mile 15), and downhill miles will be faster. Try and settle into your goal pace but don’t panic if an uphill mile is 15-20 sec. slower. You’ll get it back on a downhill mile.
MW: I think the most important piece of advice I can share is to try and be consistent and now, after injury, is to really listen to your body and if you feel something out of line to really listen and heed it before it can morph into something bigger.
MC: I would say, run with your heart and sole, from within yourself and ignore the time. Drink a lot of water and eat anything your heart desires to run strong. Go to enjoy the experience.