Down the Backstretch: Why did you choose Shamrock to make your attempt to qualify?
Chris Erichsen: Shamrock is a flat, fast course, which was definitely something I was looking for. The late-March timing was also ideal, as it allowed me to race a marathon early in the spring and still make it back in time for the majority of the summer road racing schedule.
DtB: After having come so close in two other attempts were you beginning to have doubts if you would ever make it or did you manage to keep a positive outlook?
CE: No, I don’t think it was ever an issue maintaining a positive outlook after Fargo last year and Houston in January. Even though I was running times that were very close to the standard for both the full and the half, I wasn’t regressing.
I continued to get faster season after season, so I figured it was a matter of putting myself in a good position to qualify and then running well on that day. That’s basically what Shamrock was,even though the conditions were less than ideal, I had trained well enough and raced smart enough to set myself up for success.
DtB: You said your long runs went up as high as 26 miles. Why that long? Did you do the 26 miler on a treadmill or outdoors?
CE: Getting up to 26 miles for my long run was just a natural progression in my training schedule. I wasn’t necessarily setting out to run 26 miles before the actual marathon, it just worked out that way.
I usually find it fairly difficult to begin a long run, knowing exactly how long you are going to be out there. If I finished a 22-miler the week before, I might shoot for 20 and add on at the end if I’m feeling good.
This year’s winter did force me to do some long runs on the treadmill. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but it also goes surprisingly fast when you catch a good movie or game on TV. I don’t feel as guilty watching two straight hours of TV if I’m running the whole time.
DtB: Because of all the snow, and especially ice, on the roads and sidewalks how did you determine what runs you'd do outdoors and what runs indoors?
CE: If I could see where I was running or if I knew the trails were plowed, I would try to run outside. Unfortunately, this meant I was inside during most of the work week. A majority of my workouts were also on the treadmill, as it was one of the few pieces of dry ground in the area.
I tried to get outside at least a few times every week, but with races so early in the season (and in warmer weather), I was usually OK if I ended up running inside. I saw the entire New Year’s resolution workout cycle this year.
DtB: Did you have any particular workouts, races during the run up to Shamrock that convinced you that you could get the qualifying time there?
CE: I think there were two main reasons that I felt confident about hitting the qualifying time heading into Shamrock. The first was my performance at the US Half-Marathon championships in Houston. I finished in 65:41 and missed the standard by about three seconds per mile.
I personally think the half-marathon standard of 65:00 is tougher, so knowing I was pretty fit in January was encouraging. I also did a number of longer tempo runs, which felt easier and easier over the course of the training cycle. I wouldn’t say I was convinced I would get the qualifying time at Shamrock, but I was convinced I was in good enough shape to do so.
DtB: Did you have training partners or others you run with?
CE: Matthew Berry, Joe Soucheray, and Brandon Flowers play pretty integral roles in my training. In all seriousness, I try to get out with the Collegeville team about once a month, and I run with other guys with about the same frequency. I primarily train on my own because that is what fits my schedule.
DtB: Now that you've achieved your goal and have a had a few days to let it sink in, have you readjusted your goals, set new ones, or are you just going to enjoy the Trials experience?
CE: There will definitely be new goals, but that’s something I won’t be focusing on for a little while. If I start setting new goals now, I might get too excited and overdo it. In the next few weeks, I will sit down with my coach to re-assess both short and long-term goals.
DtB: Where you doing two runs a day or just one long workout each day? If it was two that would mean runs before and after work every day. How did you handle that?
CE: Most days when I was running a lot of mileage, it was two workouts per day. After a while, it becomes routine to wake up early and run, skip happy hours after work, etc. Eventually, it can become tougher to break that routine to sleep in or take an afternoon off. It’s all a matter of perspective.
DtB: Were your co-workers aware of your quest? If so, did they throw you a celebratory party after you got back from Virginia?
CE: If they weren’t, they definitely heard about it. The coordinator of the Target Run Club sent out a “news flash” e-mail on the Monday after the race, and when I got back in the office I had over 150 congratulatory emails, most from people I had never even met. The support I received from my co-workers, friends, and family was incredible.