© Copyright - 2012 - Athletics Illustrated

Brett Gotcher raced the US Olympic Marathon Trials Saturday, January 14th in Houston, Texas. He finished in a near personal best time of 2:11:06, 30 seconds off of his debut result that he achieved at the 2009 Chevron Houston Marathon, 2:10:36 – the fourth fastest American marathon debut.

The 2012 Trials was one of the deepest US marathon races to date with 81 finishers bettering the 2:30 threshold, 50 going sub-2:20, 21 bettering the sub-2:15 mark and four who ran sub-2:10. Those four were Meb Keflezighi – the oldest Trials champion at age 36, ran a personal best time of 2:09:08, Ryan Hall 2:09:30, is the American record holder with his 2:04:58, Abdi Abdiriham 2:09:47 and Dathan Ritzenhein 2:09:55. Ritzenhein will become the American alternate should one of the three that ran faster are unable to compete. Gotcher finished 5th overall.

Gotcher trains in Flagstaff, Arizona with Coach Greg McMillan at adidas-McMillanElite.

Personal bests: 

10,000 Metres 28:09.21

20 Kilometres 58:57

Half Marathon 1:02:09

Marathon 2:10:36

The interview:

Christopher Kelsall:
Congratulations on your 2:11:06 at the Houston Marathon, Saturday. Not a personal best, but close and a return to form after a tough result following your stellar marathon debut of 2:10:36 at the 2009 Houston event. Was that the primary goal, to return to form? 

Brett Gotcher: Thanks! My main goal out there was to compete. That’s what the Olympic Trials are all about. I went in with a race plan that I thought would give me a good shot and I tried to execute as best as could. I don’t think I ever really lost form, I just had a bad day last year and finished the race. I’ve been building upon that first marathon and knew that if I had a great day I could beat a lot of people.

CK: Did you do anything different in this training cycle in comparison to 2009?

BG: Not really. I just had the experience under my belt of already going through a few marathon cycles so I had a better idea of what to expect. I will say that I think this was the most relaxed I’ve been during marathon training. That’s not to say I didn’t lose it a few times, but overall, I was much more at ease with what I needed to do.

CK: What happens when Brett Gotcher loses it, are we smashing furniture?

BG: Ha, no furniture smashing. That stuff costs too much. Mostly just minor temper tantrums that involves yelling some four letter words and stomping around, and then realizing 2 minutes later that I was acting like a complete idiot.CK: You are not on the US Olympic team, but if there are injuries to guys in front of you, does USA T&F go to the next healthy qualifier?

CK: You are not on the US Olympic team, but if there are injuries to guys in front of you, does USAT&F go to the next healthy qualifier? 

BG: I’m not exactly sure how that works, but I think only the 4th place finisher is the alternate.

CK: The US is the or one of the only to have a marathon trials. The three most likely to qualify, qualified, but what do you think of the format? Would you prefer to chase a standard for a couple of years? 

BG: Personally, I like how we do it. Part of being a good marathoner is showing up on the day when it really counts. They don’t give out Olympic medals based on who has the fastest 3 times. Also, it’s rare these days to see all the best American marathoners going up against each other head to head. With all the great major marathons out there, we tend to get spread out a bit. I think we saw the bar rise a little more, with 4 sub-2:10’s, a bunch of great debuts, and a lot of guys running close to or under their pb’s, all in the same race. 

CK: What is the step for you in the marathon? A personal best or is there a benchamark in your sites?

BG: I think the next step is to be more consistent and continue to improve. I’ve only run 3 marathons, and I’m hoping as I get older and get more miles in my legs, that I can start to run marathons like the lead group did at the Trials. It seems that if you want to do anything of significance at the marathon distance, you need to be able to run 63 minutes pretty comfortably for the first half. If you can do that, then you’ll set yourself up to hit some major benchmarks in the marathon, such as breaking 2:10 or 2:08 and making the podium at big races.

CK: Lydiard training often called for a full-marathon time trial four weeks out. Did you get that in, this year? If so, how did it go?

BG: We’ve never done a full-marathon time trial, just the usual 15 mile tempos and the long, steady runs close to 3 hours.

CK: How do your 15 - 18 mile marathon effort tempo runs translate at altitude? Do you bother to look at the pace? I assume you keep the effort at marathon race effort by heart rate, yes?

BG: My long tempos went as well as they’ve ever gone. This cycle, we did a 12 mile tempo and two 15 mile tempos. The main focus this time around was to run a quick but controlled effort for the first 10-11 miles and then try to open up the last 4-5. We don’t use heart rate to gauge our effort, just our own perceived effort and also what kind of pace has worked for us in the past.

CK: Did the Houston race roll out exactly as planned? Can you take us through the race?

BG: That’s hard to say. There were so many different scenarios that we played around with. We definitely did have one scenario where the race went out super fast, but that scenario had people coming back harder than they did. I think I ran the race about as well as I could have hoped. Even though I was off the main pack, the pace was still pretty aggressive (64:40-ish at halfway). I gave myself a shot to run in the 2:10 range, which would have put me pretty close to those guys at the end, but the marathon will catch up to you. At 20 miles, it almost became more about survival than trying to make up ground on the guys ahead. All I could really focus on was moving myself forward as efficiently as I could, and hoping that it was going to be enough to cut into the gap. Those guys up front ran really gutsy races and they absolutely earned their spot on the team. It was an honor to be a part of such a deep American race, and it opened my eyes to what I need to do over the next 4 years to make that podium.

CK: What’s next for you?

BG: I’m not exactly sure yet. I’ll sit down with Greg (McMillan) sometime this week and we’ll probably come up with a plan for almost the entire rest of the year.  I’m guessing it will involve some of the usual road races, and hopefully I’ll be getting on the track to take another crack at the 5 and the 10.

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