Q&A with Pat Krott (Couch to Marathon in 1 year)

By | May 30, 2012 4:30 am | 0 Comments

 

It takes most new runners a few years to work up to the marathon distance, but not Erie’s Pat Krott, 28, who, inspired by a volunteer gig at the Boston Marathon in 2011, went from couch to marathon (he just completed Buffalo) in a little over a year.

You may recognize Pat’s name from the local race results where it’s usually found near the top as he’s been tearing up every local race with enthusiasm and speed that we older runners can just vaguely recall. Admittedly, I’ve shaken my head at the boy (as any wise, old runner would) and said “…fool kid, he’s gonna hurt himself,” but…hey, he’s young, strong and doesn’t require three days of rest a week like this old race mare, so who am I to rain on his race day?

I managed to get Pat to sit still long enough to answer a few questions about his epic leap from couch potato to marathoner.

How did you end up volunteering at the Boston Marathon in 2011?  What did you do there? As a Health & Physical Education undergraduate at Edinboro, I joined the “Exercise Science Club.”  Every year the club volunteers at the Boston Marathon, passing out water and Gatorade at mile 25.

While you were volunteering, you were so inspired that you decided to start running yourself? Yes.  Prior to Boston, I was never interested in running.  Cardiovascular exercise in general always seemed kind of boring, and the extent of my cardio was done on a mountain bike.  It all started at the expo the day before the marathon.  Honestly, something that I noticed immediately was how attractive everyone was.  I was hard-pressed to find an unattractive woman at this expo.  So I thought to myself “hmmm, there must be something to this running thing!”  And then the next day at the race, there was so much energy and excitement in the air.  The spectators, the environment, the pace of the volunteering itself, and the collective movement of over 27,000 runners toward a common goal was truly amazing.

Why? What inspired you? Was there a particular moment/person? It all came together slowly over that weekend.  But there was definitely a point during the race when I thought to myself “I’m going to run this race someday.  I’m adding it to my bucket list.”

So, you come home from this experience & decide…I’m going to be a runner. Tell me about that. Well, I decided in Boston that I was going to start running.  As soon as I got home, I started reading about running on the internet, and how to begin.  The general consensus involved two pieces of advice:  #1, go to a legitimate running store and get analyzed and fitted for shoes.  And, #2, start with a program titled “Couch to 5k.”  So two days after Boston, I went to Achilles (local running store) and was fitted for shoes.  I bought the shoes, and the following day, I started Week 1, Day 1 of the Couch to 5k plan.

Had you ever run before? Did you know anything about it? I went running once over the winter prior to that spring.  I borrowed my brother’s trail shoes and thought that maybe it would be fun to run on a snow covered street.  So I did an easy jog around the block with my dog and found it to be quite enjoyable.  However, after that one run, I never really had serious thoughts about running again until Boston.

Tell me about your very first run. It was an alternating walk/run.  It seemed pretty easy.  I had somewhat of an athletic base just from doing so much weight-lifting for about a year prior to running, and the Couch to 5k program made it easy to start out and slowly work my way up.

How long after you began running did you do your first race? Well, the Couch to 5k plans for the first 5k nine weeks after the start of the program.  However, after week 4, I felt I was ready to give it a shot.

Tell me about that race. What was your finish time? Where you instantly hooked? My first race was the Nautilus “Nauti” 5k.  It was cold, rainy, and windy; conditions that most people would describe as miserable.  I convinced my friend Becca to run it with me.  The race started down near the bayfront and circled around Frontier Park.  Much of the advice I read online about the first race was to not start off too fast, so I think we started out too slowly.  Becca and I had a lot of energy left at the end, and we finished in 30:44.  As soon as I was done, I couldn’t wait to do another one.  Despite the cold and rainy conditions, it was a ton of fun, and because I knew I had energy left at the end, I knew I could better my time.  Editor’s Note: Pat is being nice in describing the weather for the Nauti 5K – I remember it (though I didn’t do it) and it was practically a MONSOON – and that was Pat’s introduction to racing! LOL.

How much weight did you lose? Was that primarily from running (did you change your diet at all)? I’ve lost about 15 pounds since I started running.  Diet fluctuates.  I would say that I eat moderately healthy, but I do have an occasional donut or bowl of ice cream.

About how many days (or how many miles) do you run a week now? When I’m staying consistent, I’ve been averaging about 40-50 miles per week.

Do you ever run alone…or only with other people? Both, as both have advantages and disadvantages.  Running alone is great because there is no one to hold you back, and as far as pushing yourself, it’s all you.  You have to dig deep and find the motivation to push beyond your comfort zone.  It’s also a great form of therapy.  If I’m feeling stressed or anxious, running is an immediate cure, and I am always in a better mood and more energetic after a run.  However, I prefer to run with others.  Running is an awesome social activity and a great way to meet friends with the same passion for running, and it’s easier to go farther and run longer when you have good company.

Who do you train with? I’ll run with whoever is willing to run!  I’ve got a great group of friends that I run with sometimes consistently, and sometimes sporadically, but every run is enjoyable and every run contributes to my running ability.  I would love to name everyone here, but I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out.  They all know who they are, and I had the honor of accompanying many of them to their first half-marathons and marathons in Cleveland this year.

What is your 10K, 5K, ½ marathon & Marathon PR? 39:41 (10K), 19:04 (5K), 1:30 (1/2), 3:38 (marathon).

What are you saying to yourself in a race? Do you have a mantra? What’s going on in your head when you’re pushing it hard? Sometimes negative thoughts, sometimes positive thoughts.  I’ve gotten to the point where I can usually sense the negative thoughts creeping in, and I’ll actively try to replace them with positive thoughts.  Negative thoughts often involve thinking of fatigue in the legs, whether or not I trained properly, did I eat properly, maybe I shouldn’t have ate that candy bar yesterday, etc etc.  The easiest way to block those negative thoughts is forcing a smile, looking up in the air, and appreciating the scenery and the beauty around me while reassuring myself that I did indeed train properly.  What’s done is done, and all I can do at that point is to give it my best. Much of this balance of negative and positive thoughts is decided days before a race, as the mentality going into it often dictates the mentality during it.

What has been your favorite local race, so far? I really enjoyed the Nathaniel James Lemock 5k in 2011.  I met a lot of great people there. It was only my second race and I won 1st in my age group, and it was the race that really solidified my newest addiction of progression in running.  And last but not least, the post-race food was phenomenal!

Hills – love them or hate them? Love them.  They’re tough, and that which is tough makes you stronger.  I try to train on hills because I know so many people don’t train on hills.  When I see a hill in a race, I know that it’s a great spot for me to put some distance on some of the competition.

Cleveland was your first marathon attempt, but you had to drop out. What happened? I was overly ambitious, went out too fast, under-hydrated, and ended up cramping so bad that I had to drop out at mile 23.  I suppose the heat didn’t help, but ultimately it was just many bad decisions on my part.  My training was pretty spotty leading up to the race as well, so I’m sure that didn’t help.  However, I learned many lessons that day, and I will chalk it up as a good training run. It also gave me a newfound respect for the marathon distance.

Then, for redemption you ran Buffalo the next week? Tell me about it. (What was your finish time? Were you happy with that? What did you think about when you finished?) Well since it was only a week after Cleveland, I was going to just run it as an easy training run, take my time, and not even wear a watch.  However, just minutes before the race, I decided to follow the 3:40 pacer and I stayed there throughout the duration of the race until the last mile where I went out ahead and finished in 3:38.  I was very happy with my time.  I picked a realistic yet slightly challenging goal, hydrated well, took my gels on time, and everything worked out great! It also made me realize that if I want to go to Boston anytime soon, I have a lot of work to do.

In less than a year, you’ve gone from beginning runner to marathon runner. That’s remarkable – usually takes people a few years to work up to the 26.2 – why do you think you rocketed up so fast? Last year I signed up and ran as many 5k’s as I could.  I found them to be a ton of fun, a great place to meet new friends, and great training.  So I was guaranteed an intense run every weekend, sometimes two or three times in a week, in addition to whatever training runs I was doing.  That being said, I think there are plenty of people that progress at a similar rate.

You’re signed up for a 50K trail race this fall, right? Is there any challenge you won’t accept? (LOL). Actually, I’m registered for the Laurel Highlands 50k on June 9th, and a few other ultras before the Oil Creek 100 miler in the fall.  The OC100 in October and the Erie Marathon in September are at the forefront of my goals right now.

What’s still on your fitness bucket list? (Triathlon, Bike race, etc.) The Boston Marathon, and the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim trail run. And I’d love to do an Ironman triathlon someday, but I suppose I should learn how to swim first.
What advice do you have for newbie runners?

  1. Stop worrying all the time.  If you feel you are overweight and are self-conscious about running outside, don’t be.  I can guarantee that no runner will ever criticize anyone for running.  We think it’s great when people attempt to make a lifestyle change, especially through running.  The only people who will criticize you are those who are jealous and lack the ambition to do it themselves.  Also, you most likely will NOT be last at your first race, and even if you are, you’re still miles ahead of the majority of the population who is still sleeping off their hangover.
  2. Don’t worry too much about gear.  Get fitted for shoes, and once you find some comfortable shoes that work for you, stick with them.  You don’t need a fancy $200 watch to run.  Don’t wear cotton socks.
  3. And last, but not least, HAVE FUN.

What are you doing now (career-wise)? (You’re a student right? Major? Future plans?) I work in quality assurance at a food manufacturer and I’m currently attending Edinboro University, working toward my undergrad in Health & Physical Education with the ultimate goal of being a teacher.

 

 

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