Interview With Bobby Curtis: Our top American at Chicago
By: Cait Chock
With his 9th place finish at the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Bobby Curtis was the top American and lowered his marathon PR down to 2:11:20. While he cut off more than 2 minutes from his previous PR, the time didn't come as much of a shock to Curtis who, knew he was capable of just that. Given the bit of wind on the course and an oscillating early pace, his fitness pegs him even faster.
The Hansons-Brooks runner has seen sizeable improvements in each of the marathons he's raced; getting more and more comfortable with the distance, this has been his last marathon before the Olympic Trials. Until then he'll be honing his speed on the track and focused on a half-marathon PR. Come the Trials his eyes will be focused on nothing but a top three finish and his first Olympic berth.
I caught up with the Curtis the day after his Chicago Marathon performance.
1) Congratulations on the PR and being our first American! Coming into this race you ran about the time you thought you should. Can you tell us a little about your workouts and training leading up to Chicago?
I did a very standard Hanson's build up. 120 miles a week on a 9 day cycle with 2 long workouts and a long run each 9 day period. On the rest days between, I normally did 12 or 14 miles in the morning and 4 miles in the afternoon.
Two of the best sessions from the build up:
1) 2x6 miles with 10 minutes rest. 29:10, 29:16
2) 3 miles in 15:05 10 minutes rest, 13.1 miles in 1:05.20
My last long run I did 20 miles slightly under 6 minute pace with the 3 miles between 15 and 18 in around 14:30.
2) You had a pacer early on but mentioned the pace was a little zig-zagging, was it tough feeling like you weren't able to get into a rhythm?
I don't want to complain because I was very happy to have a lot of company the majority of the race, but yeah, we had some difficulty establishing a consistent rhythm early on, but it wasn't a major issue.
3) You and Matt Llano had talked about helping each other out with lead-offs, when he wasn't able to respond around 17 miles you were on your own. How were you feeling at that point?
I was feeling really strong at 17. Five minute miles still felt under control at that point and breaking away from Matt and seeing some of the other athletes in front of me beginning to slow gave me a nice boost.
4) Sounds like the wind wasn't terrible but it wasn't ideal either, anything else happen or points along the way that makes you feel you could have run any faster?
Overall it was a very good day for a marathon, but not perfect. Completing the distance at close to 5 minutes a mile gives me a lot of confidence for the future. Also, this training segment went off without a hitch, so I think I can look back at what I did as a solid blueprint for the Olympic trials marathon.
5) But you always have to be happy with a PR, do you feel like you're getting more and more comfortable with the marathon? What are your plans for it in looking down the road, both in specific races and the times you feel you're capable of running?
I think I'm getting more comfortable with the marathon. This will likely be my last marathon before the trials marathon, so I'll probably focus on shorter distances until fall 2015. I'd like to get a fast half marathon under my belt and also improve my 10K PB. As far as the marathon goes, achieving a top three finish at the Olympic Trials will be my top priority.
6) Sounds like cross country may be coming up for you next. Can you share what some of your goals are between now and Rio?
-Win a U.S. Road Championship
-Half Marathon under 61 minutes
-Make World Cross Country Team
-Top 3 at U.S. Track Championships 10,000m
Thank you very much, Bobby, for taking the time to talk. Celebrate an excellent race in Chicago and excited to watch you continue to represent the USA in such fine fashion!
Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004. A freelance writer, artist, and designer she writes about all things running and founded Ezzere, her own line of running shirts (www.ezzere.com). You can read more, see her running comics, and her shirts at her website.