A copy of the interview I did with Josh Papanikolao for RunnersTribe. Enjoy.
Hi Jeff, thanks for joining us at Runner’s Tribe before you race the Boston marathon this weekend. How are you feeling after the long trip and getting settled in the city?
Initially I was pretty tired because I barely slept at all on the way over. I’m over that now and have found my feet since landing so I’m feeling pretty good ahead of the race. I think I am in good form, and hope to show that come Monday.
You’ve done some racing recently in your build-up to Boston both on the track and the roads. What have you taken away from those races? A PB on track must give you confidence as well as cracking that 14min barrier.
Finally breaking 14:00 was a good feeling. I haven’t had many cracks at a good 5k when I’ve been in shape, but running a PB in a marathon build-up shows just how soft my PB is. I think that 5k was a very good confidence booster, and showed that I am in good nick. Following that up with a forty-five minute 15k was pretty comforting as well because it meant that the preparation was at the right point, and we had done the right things to hopefully achieve our goals in Boston.
Boston can be a quick race but it’s not a flat course. Have you talked to anyone about what to expect during the race?
Ken has done all the talking to people. Me, I’m just treating it like any other marathon. I haven’t trained specifically for the Boston course, but I am aware of the elevation changes and how I need to be careful about what I do at certain stages of the race. I also watched a quick ten minute Boston course video on YouTube, but I will head out on the course tour on Saturday. I can’t change anything now, but sometimes it’s worthwhile to have a look. I normally wouldn’t look at a course before I run on it, but I will make an exception for Boston.
The taper going into a marathon is an important factor for the race; do you have a set routine that you follow once you start to wind down the training?
Run how I feel. Just because I am in taper mode does not mean I have to get all princess-like and start trying to actively conserve energy. I eat normal. I train normal. That means, if I feel good on a run, I run quicker. About the only consistent thing is the last week is a week of running that reduces as the race approaches.
Some marathoners have a final long tempo before their taper that they use as a bit of an indicator of their form. Do you do something similar?
Not really. My longest effort in training is about thirty minutes. I have never ran longer than thirty minutes at marathon pace. This time around, I ran a 15km race in Melbourne for something different and to gauge how ready I am to race. I ran without a watch and just tried to race, not worrying about splits. Tempos are not really a staple training element for our group, so chucking one in before the goal race wouldn’t be wise.
What time up on the board when you cross the line would make you smile? Do you have a goal time through half way?
Something under 2:11:00. A PB would be nice. I would like to be in the top ten as well. A halfway time of around 65:00 should be within my capabilities, but we’ll see how the first half pans out.
Your wife is your massage therapist, that’s convenient. Surely she gives you mate’s rates?
It can be convenient, but because Heidi is also my wife, I tend to be the one who misses out on a massage more than a normal client. If we planned to have a massage at 7pm and she looks way too tired, I generally skip it. However, we try not to miss the Sunday massage though. Luckily for me, I don’t have to pay for the massage directly, but I do pay.
You work full-time while training as an elite distance runner which must take a lot of effort, would you want to run full-time? Quite a few runners have found they run better when they are working.
I have thought about whether I would want the ability to run full-time, and generally my feeling is that I like what I do for a career, and do not want to stop doing it any time soon. I enjoy when I have trips away, and I train well when I go to places like Falls Creek, but I think I would not be very productive on a daily basis if I didn’t have something structured to do every day outside of training.
I am sure that if I ran full time, I would improve. However, unless I get a really big contract that can fund my running and lifestyle for three-to-four years, I will continue to work. My current career does not allow you to be out of the workforce for too long because it’s continually evolving. As much as I love running, it is but a small part of my life, and with a child on the way I need to be able to provide for my family with certainty.
What will you get up to after the race? Will you stick around in the US for a bit?
I will spend about a day in Boston before flying home on Tuesday night. I plan on being back on Thursday morning. I don’t do the touristy stuff, so I generally just fly home straight away. I don’t like being away from home too long unless Heidi is with me. With a baby due in the next couple of weeks I want to make sure I am home, and not on the other side of the world, when it’s ready to be born.