Off To A Fast Start: Exclusive Interview With Ricky Flynn

Let’s take a look back at the race. It was your first marathon. You had nothing to go off when you took to the starting line. What was your plan of attack heading into the race, what were you planning to hit for a pace, what was your mindset going in, what was your goal and how did those plans compare to what actually happened?

Going into the race I really just wanted to have an overall positive experience for my first marathon. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself with it being the Olympic Trials and go out there and just kind of, for lack of a better word, shit the bed. I just wanted to have a good experience and enjoy it and get some good experience under my belt. I basically wanted to go out and run 5:10 to 5:15 pace for as long as I could because I knew that would put me anywhere between 2:15 and 2:18, which I thought if I had a good day I could run 2:15 and if I had an OK day I could run more like 2:17, 2:18. I knew anywhere in there was possible based on how I had been training. So, I went into the race and the first mile was around 5:15 so it felt pretty comfortable and I thought, “This is comfortable, I’m just going to try and keep the pace up,” and after that first mile I don’t think I hit anything over 5:15 again. The second mile was 5:02 and I was a little bit nervous that I had started out a little faster than I wanted to, but I felt fine, I didn’t panic or anything like that and just kind of kept that overall effort up, pretty similar to the second mile, and just started clicking off anywhere from 5 flat to 5:10 those next few miles. It felt comfortable so I just told myself I would stay in this rhythm for as long as I could and if I started to feel weak or feel like I’m going to hit the wall then I’ll back off a little bit, but it never really happened. I got really, really deep into the race and started dropping 4:55 and 4:53 and 4:58 and stuff like that and my second half was a lot faster than my first half, so it ended up going pretty well. I felt it at 24-25 but never really hit that wall.

When you started reeling off those faster splits later in the race, were you starting to gain confidence as you began to pick people off?

Yeah, definitely. Just being able to see my mile splits every mile and getting further and further into the race. I never raced anything over a half marathon, so after 13 miles every mile that I clicked off that was consistently equivalent to the mile before or faster just gave me that much more confidence. I was at 14 miles and I was like “Wow, I’m going faster than I was at 13.” And I’m at 18 miles and I’m going faster than I was at 15. I got to 22 miles–and I’ve never been there before–and I’ve been told  that I’m going to hit the wall at 22, and at mile 24 I ran a 4:59. So I never really hit that wall, so it was really exciting during the race.

It’s often said that everyone learns something from their first marathon. Now that you’ve had a couple weeks to let things process and reflect on your race, what did you learn from your first marathon at the Trials?

I think I learned a lot on how to prepare for a marathon. Looking back I think I did a really good job in the days leading up to the marathon and making sure I was hydrated, making sure I ate enough, and ate more than I probably should, just making sure I had enough nutrition in me. I ate relatively healthy but more so I was just putting the calories in because you know you’re going to need those calories on race day. [I was] hydrating, not just with water but with Gaotrade and juice, basically anything you can get your hands on. And just preparing my legs for that taper the last week and making sure I took rest days and taking my runs nice and easy. I didn’t taper too much because I found if I end up tapering too much I end up racing worse. I did about 70 miles the week leading into the Trials and put a couple workouts in earlier in the week. Nothing crazy, just some pace stuff, because I wanted to make sure I was comfortable at that 5:10 pace. I learned a lot about what I did right preparing for the race and I think in my next marathon I’ll be a little bit more aggressive. I was very, very cautious [at the Trials]. Even though I was ahead of pace, I was very cautious about putting in surges or going with a certain guy, whereas in my next marathon I’ll put a little bit more risk on the line and see if I can’t hold on. And if I hit that wall, I’ll hit that wall. It will come when it comes, I guess.

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