Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tops in the State: Fyffe, Knapp Lead Vt. Contingent

By JAMES BIGGAM Staff Writer - Published: May 26, 2009\

BURLINGTON — For Justin Fyffe and Alexandra Knapp, local bragging rights and checks for $500 were sweet cherries on top of the 21st KeyBank Vermont City Marathon Sunday.Fyffe, a 29-year-old from East Dummerston, was the fastest male Vermonter in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 32 seconds, good enough to beat the old mark by more than 10 minutes. Knapp ran her second-ever marathon in 3:02:37, making the 24-year-old from Shelburne the top finisher from the Green Mountain State.The honor wasn't a huge shock to Fyffe, who placed fifth overall Sunday after logging roughly 100 miles per week for the last eight months. He did shave more than 20 minutes off his 2007 VCM result, but that potential was clear after a huge training load and a second-place finish at the U.S. 50-kilometer Championship on March 1."Three weeks ago I did a 16-mile tempo run at a 5:28 (per mile) pace just to make sure I had everything," said Fyffe, who ran 6 miles to and from his workplace at the Bradford Machine Company all winter. "When you do those workouts, you pretty much know where your fitness level is at. I was in control of the pace, I felt good and I knew it was going to be a good day if the weather was good and I was rested."According to Fyffe, the highlight of Sunday's race was the group of Taiko drummers playing at the base of Battery Street hill before the 15-mile mark."The drums were insane," he said. "They get into the rhythm of your stride and it's hard not to synch up with them."Fyffe averaged a pace of 5:38 each mile after running the first mile too slow (5:50) and the second mile too fast (5:19). He went through the 10-mile mark in 55:37, reached the half-marathon mark in 1:13:16 and logged a time of 1:52:07through the first 20 miles."For me, I generally feel pretty strong and it's almost like doing time up to about 18 or 19 miles," Fyffe said. "And that's when things start to sink in, because you're feeling pretty strong but you still have 6 or 7 miles left to go. At least for me, mentally and physically, around 20 is where I start to break down. And that's where training really works in — all those high-mileage weeks really pay off and carry you through there. Because it gets pretty tough at that point."Knapp only started training in March for Sunday's race and adhered mostly to a "go-on-how-you-feel" running plan while finishing her first year of law school at Cornell. She had never run more than 10 miles prior to racing the 2007 Sugarloaf Marathon, where she made the mistake of not eating or drinking anything and finished in 3:45.On Sunday, Knapp drank water at every other food stop and also ate four energy gels to maintain her energy."I was expecting the first mile I'd go out way too fast with the crowds, but I actually went out way too slow by mistake," she said. "It was a 7:20 (split) and I thought it would be more like a 6-minute mile, so I was really surprised. But then there were two people that I followed for a while and I just keyed off different people throughout the race.I felt pretty good at just under a 7-minue pace, so I decided to stick with that. At about 18 (miles) I thought it looked like I might be able to break 3 hours, so I was aiming toward that, and then at around 22 my legs were starting to cramp and seize. So I re-evaluated things and just tried to finish the best I could."Knapp hit the 10-mile mark in 1:08:28, crossed the half-marathon mark in 1:30:09 and took 2:17:28 to reach 20 miles. Her average of 6:58 per mile was fast enough to edge Kathy Provencher of Waterbury (3:09:15) for the top Vermonter prize.Looking ahead to next year, Knapp now has a new goal to shoot for: breaking a 3-hour marathon time.

1 comment:

  1. I love it man...absolutely awesome job this weekend!!!! You met your goal and then some!!!! .... 2:27 is legit my friend... take a couple days to soak it all in!!!!