For most runners, the ideal plan for the last few weeks of a marathon training cycle includes final workouts at goal race pace, gradually tapering mileage, carbo loading, and resting the legs for the big day. Caleb Masland’s last few weeks leading into this past Sunday’s Tobacco Road Marathon were anything but ideal. Multiple stomach viruses drained his energy, emptied his stomach, filled his training log with zeros, and included very little actual rest.
It is fitting that Caleb describes himself as a "grinder". He certainly had to dig deep and rely on the ability to grind as his legs locked up in the final miles of the race. The 5:30-5:40 miles he had been consistently clipping off for the first 20 miles quickly turned into 6:30s and 7:00s in the last 10k. He was passed by one runner (prolific marathoner, Bryan Morseman) in the final miles, but held on to second place and his position as first NC finisher. In the end, his 2:34:53 finishing time was not his fastest effort at the marathon distance, and surely not his easiest, but it was enough to claim his first USATF-NC Championship, and more motivation for another shot at a sub-2:30 in the coming months.
What were your goals coming into the race?
My main goal was to win the State Championship. Based on my training, I also thought I could run in the 2:28-2:29 range. So, I was 1 for 2 on the day. I'm honored to be the 2015 NC State Marathon Champion!
How did training go for this marathon cycle?
Training was great until about 3 weeks before the race! I was having great workouts and feeling very relaxed running longer tempos as well as some true speed workouts. In January, I tied my PR in the half marathon down in Houston. During a long run 4 weeks out, I was surprised how easy it felt to run target race pace for 10 miles, and then I followed that with a 2-mile piece faster than half marathon PR pace. Unfortunately, I then had 2 bouts of stomach virus (thanks, kids...) that took all the wind out of my sails. I could tell how much power I had lost when my legs started cramping in a big way at 18 miles. Aerobically, I was in complete control. Nutrition was spot on. But my body just didn't have it to finish strong.
Continue working hard, and find another race where I can put this fitness to use. Maybe Raleigh Half in April? I definitely want to defend my Grandfather Mountain Marathon title this year, too.
You are an experienced marathoner with almost 20 marathons under your belt. What is still a challenge you are working to improve?
I've always been a grinder, never a speedster. I really want to improve my speed this summer so I can be more efficient in the marathon. I need to get much closer to 15:00 in the 5k and in the 25:30 range for 8k so that I can run marathons in the 2:20's without being so close to my max speed.