Riding the wave of a buildup of top performances, Bobby Curtis is a contender for making the U.S. marathon team. He was the top U.S. runner at the 2014 Chicago Marathon, placed second at the 2015 USA Cross Country Championships and was fourth and the first U.S. runner at the 2015 Bolder Boulder 10K. The Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project Runner will come off a solid training block with his teammates to fight for his trip to Rio.
Keep reading to learn what Bobby’s thoughts are about the trials, how his training is going and what it will take form him to make the team.
Also be sure to cheer on Bobby and his teammates as they #runhappytorio!
What is your favorite part about the marathon during the race? Is there a point you get to when you’re just totally loving everything?
My favorite part of the marathon is between halfway (13.1 miles) and about 18 miles. During the first half of a marathon, it’s a little stressful worrying about pace and trying to establish your position. By halfway the race tends to settle and you can really start to get in a nice rhythm. Between 13 and 18 is before you really start to feel the pain of the marathon. So during this magnificent stretch, you feel like you’re just gliding through the streets effortlessly…that all goes away around mile 20!
What are you doing to prepare for this race in particular? Or are you doing things pretty much the same thing this time around?
I’ve upped my mileage a little bit. I’m doing a lot of days with 14 miles in the morning and 6 miles in the afternoon for recovery days, which is pretty big for me. My workouts and long runs have mostly been the same. My peak weekly mileage has increased to 132 miles.
What do you think will be the key to a successful race in LA?
I think it’s going to be important not to be too concerned with being in the lead pack early. I think irregular pace and a quick first half will cause a lot of pain in the second half for a lot of competitors. Also, the course has a lot of rhythm breaking turns, including three hairpins, so it will be important to navigate those efficiently.
What does it mean to you personally to run in the Trials?
It’s a big deal. I’m lucky to be one of the guys with a solid shot of making the team, so it’s great to have a really big race coming up on my calendar. I’ve never done a U.S. marathon trials race so I’m really excited.
How does running with a team affect your training?
The structure that a team provides is huge for me. It’s tough getting through something like a 140-mile week or a 16-mile workout alone, and having teammates and coaches with you everyday makes training a lot easier. Also, teammates provide constant feedback that you not get training alone. A few days ago, I did a 20-miler that was about 4 minutes slower than I anticipated. It was a windy day and we ran through a lot thick mud. Because everyone was slow on the run, I knew it was no big deal and just a slow day. If I were training alone I don’t know if I would have let a disappointing result go so quickly.
Is there any one person on the team who you think really helped/is helping you get through this training cycle?
Mike Morgan has been great this segment. No matter how many miles we’ve done the day before, he seems to also be able to run a fast recovery pace. If left to my own devices, I’m likely to run 7-minute pace on easy days, but Mike has made sure to keep everyone honest.
Do you have a general race plan you can share with us and how you’ll approach the trials?
Well, in 2012, making the team required you to go out very fast, 1:03 something halfway, and just hang on the last few miles. I think this year will be very similar. Except this year, I think people in the top three will get caught in the later stages. My plan is to just stick to the fastest consistent pace I think I’m capable of running and capitalize during the later stages.
What advice do you have for someone thinking of doing their first marathon ever?
Enjoy the training and work hard, but don’t kill yourself. A marathon training segment is tough and a lot of things will likely go wrong so it’s important to be flexible. Finally, on race day make sure to go out conservatively. I think the most common mistake newbies make is thinking that because they feel good early that they will continue feeling good all the way to 26.2. It’s amazing how quickly things can turn bad in a marathon if you go out too fast!
What will be the first thing you do after the race?
Commence my incessant complaints about foot, stomach and quad pain. If I make the Olympic Team maybe I won’t grumble so much!