We’re planning on being contenders at the Olympic trials. My dream is definitely to cross the line in the top three and make the Olympic team. We want to put someone on the Olympic team for Tokyo but just making it to the starting line can be really hard. Josh has been injured for about six months now. I had some tenderness in my hip. Well, not only can I not walk right now, in February, I have to run the best marathon of my entire life. So opening 5, we’ll get like a six-minute pace the first couple of miles and then maybe in the 5:40’s, 5:50’s. We’re running the Tallahassee half-marathon as part of a training run today. Very good. It’s a very hilly course. We’re able to replicate what the Atlanta course will be like for the trials. Hey, just keep cycling through it. Arms a little quicker, arms a little wider. Even up, over and around the hills, we were able to run quick. Andrew and I progressed throughout the run. We’ve got Zappers in the lead. It gets a little snowy and rainy and kind of nasty weather up in Blowing Rock. So we head down to Tallahassee, Florida to train for 6 to 8 weeks. Right now we’re just under four weeks out from the trials, right in the heart of marathon training. We’re running about 100-110 miles per week. Everything’s on the line really. This is where the final parts to the Marathon build-up come together, the really, really hard workouts. The closer you get to those big events, the more that tension sort of mounts a little bit. We have some people who are a little banged up, some people who are doing great. We’re all ready to get the work done for the trials. Our little training camp here in Tallahassee is a simple one. What’s up, guys? They’re all cooking on the little kitchenettes. We cook a lot of things in this bad boy: baked salmon, turkey. There’s something about coming down and being in this environment that, I think, sharpens people’s focus for a couple of months. In the last four, five months, we learned that the Olympic trials has been granted gold label status. Which essentially means if you’re in the top three, you have the Olympic standard. It’s the first three to cross the line who will be on the Olympic team to Tokyo, which opens the door for anyone on that day. All nine of the ZAP endurance athletes are qualified for the trials, but most of the athletes on the team right now are dealing with something: a little niggle in a foot or a knee. So getting people to the starting line healthy, it’s job number one. Joe Stilin has been one of the most durable athletes we’ve ever had. The irony is he’s dealing with a little bit of a calf issue over the last week. It’s the first time in three years I’ve really had an injury that’s forced me to take a little bit of off-time from running, not the best timing, it’s only 26 days before the Olympic trials race in Atlanta. There’s hundreds of other guys that are in the trials out there, doing workouts, and getting runs in every day. You can’t help but think that you’re falling behind a little bit. But every minute that you spend worrying or thinking negatively is just another minute that you could have been healing better, because you’re more positive. And that’s actually a real thing, like if you’re positive and upbeat and happy, your body actually heals faster. Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll get to run. We’ll see. So it could be worse. Getting to race day healthy is going to be the key, just feeling good. Every day that you just check off is good.
– Yeah, exactly. Josh missed a lot of the year last year, being hurt and he probably had a lot of doubts as to where his fitness was. And the last few weeks have shown that he’s— in really good shape and he’s really prepared. How are things feeling? Good. 3 1/2 more weeks.
– Yeah There’s room for some more fitness gains. It’s still on the upswing, you know it’s not like you’re in a position where it’s like “we are in the best shape”. Right would be, you should hang on to it for a month, like that’s not what it is, but it’s “we get a little work to do, and we’ve got the right of time to do it”. Yeah, it’s nice to be able to go out every day and build a run pain-free. Good to be back to running like yourself.
– Yeah. Nicole is coming back from foot surgery. We were in a position with her where we had to take some risks to try to get her ready for Atlanta. So my recovery had gone pretty well. I was gaining some shape. And then I was on a run at the FSU AlterG, and my knee just instantly… Like something happened. I stepped wrong. Right now, I can’t run 10 minutes without pain, so I’m going home to get an MRI and see a doctor for that. I try to write down three positives a day to keep me focused on… It’s not all bad, but this was— this is still a dream of mine, and I am actually watching it fade away in front of me. But it makes me more hungry for the next four years. I’m like: “okay, I’m just going to plan my injuries a little bit smarter throughout the year”. Right now I’m riding the ElliptiGO, Pretty much the closest thing you can get to running while not running. For the last 12 months, I’ve been dealing with a bad case of plantar fasciitis. It’s been a long hard road in terms of me getting back to running. This has been my cross-training tool to get there. In October, I got invited to compete in the ElliptiGO world championships And it’s right up Palomar mountain, 11.8 miles, 4,300ft in elevation gain. And I hadn’t competed in a long time, and I was just looking for something to keep me in touch with what I was doing. You know, I beat the 7-time defending champion, Rusty Snow. So I’m officially now the world ElliptiGO champion. We’ll see if I go back to defend my title. Honestly, the thing that I’ve been trying to focus on the most is just being a good teammate, doing the best that I can for the guys who are going to be 100% healthy at the Olympic trial starting line. Joanna’s in really good shape. You know, she has strung together, I think, the best training block that she’s ever had and I think, Tristin, her energy has been great. I think, she’s really enjoyed being part of the team. Do you need some help?
– I think I’ve got it. I’ve never run this much mileage before and I’m actually surprised at how good I feel. Yeah, you’re crushing it.
– Yeah. I feel like we’re going to be able to work together really well and… Yeah, I’m excited.
– I’m excited. I feel the camaraderie will make a big difference. We’re going to surprise some people I think. Having teammates out there is awesome. You get better as you train with people. I like to joke around, laugh with my teammates. You always know that you’re going to have teammates who are cheering you on and supporting you, and who have your back. It’s tight. How’s your calf doing, man? A little tight, not the best. I’m kind of compensating for it a little bit and running a little differently than I normally would, but taking it easy and keep rehabbing it, and doing everything I can. New York, this last Fall was a good race for me. I had been hurt a little bit in the Spring and then to come back and run 2:14, place 14th overall, and was fourth American. That result definitely builds my confidence, moving into the trials, knowing that I have more in the tank for this next race. In the next four weeks, I’m just looking to not overdo it. In the last trials, I was a little bit too fit too early, and so I came into the trials, still in good shape, but not in the best shape I was. I was a little bit past that point—unfortunately. Matt has been making progress every single week that we’ve been here. He’s excited with where he’s at for the first time in a while. He’s having the best workouts of his life, so really excited for where Matt’s at right now. With all the injuries and being out of the competitive aspect of the sport for a long time to finally be hitting my stride and getting some healthy training in, it feels like I’m not fighting anything, that I’m just on this path that I’m supposed to be on. Yeah, it just feels free. Andrew ran 2:12 in Grandma’s, and he’s in a lot better shape than that right now. With what we’re doing with Pete and Ryan, with our training, all that it’s going to take for me to make that team is me feeling good that day. Because I know if I feel good that day, there’s no way that those other guys are going to beat me. Be with you after this. I don’t know if you guys ever listen to Mario Fraioli’s Morning Shakeout podcast. In this week’s, he talks about the Olympic trials marathon course. His take on it is, he said the race is going to be death by 1,000 cuts in the sense that it’s like attrition, the sheer amount of incline. I don’t think people realise how tough, when you actually look in perspective of the elevation, 1,400ft, 1,300ft, that’s so much over a course. It’s crazy. It’s 2.1 times more elevation increase than any other Olympic trials in history. So it kind of levels the playing field for a lot of people. It’s the type of trial.. Like if you just ran it on the Chicago course, let’s say, there’s probably 10 names, you know what I mean, maybe 15, but by and large, it’s gonna be one of those people, but on a course like Atlanta, you very well could see someone making the team who you’re going look at the results and say “I have no idea who that is”. It’s going to be that race where the people with legs on the last loop are going to do big, big damage, so it’s exciting. Training you guys to do that. I invited Keith Brantly over to speak to the team. I thought that his story could give the athletes here a month out from the trials a little inspiration. He was fourth at the Olympic trials in 1988. He was fourth again in 1992 and then came back four years after that to make a team. By pushing yourself, you find more of yourself. Your muscles, your bones, your tissues don’t really care what event it is. They do exactly what you ask them to do. The blood is running through your body because it’s being asked to do this by this thing, and unfortunately this sometimes stops this from performing as its best. When I was 13 years old, and I started running, the only thing I wanted to do was run the Olympic games. I didn’t give up. I keep fighting and fighting. In the end, if you don’t keep fighting for it, you’re not going to earn anything. I see a lot of talent in this room. I see a lot of hunger. You guys have trained hard. You’ve worked hard. You probably had some setbacks, but the bottom line is: this is your race, you design it, you run it, and you give everything you possibly can because the only thing that matters is, you know, when you cross that finish line, are you in one of those places you need to be? And it’s only the top three. I’m excited for you guys. I am so stoked. My heart’s pounding right now. All this work, all these miles, it comes down to one day, one race, 26.2 miles. That’s what stands between us and a spot on the Olympic team. For somebody on our team to make the Olympics, they’re going to have to run the best race of their life. There’s no doubt about it! You get one day every four years to do that. There’s a lot at stake. Once you make that team, you’re an Olympian and no-one can take that away from you.