Puebloan to tackle ‘Boston’ a wiser runner
Mark Gurule figures he has learned from his mistakes. He’ll find out for sure next Monday when he’ll be the lone area representative in the 112th running of the Boston Marathon.
The 45-year-old native Puebloan qualified for the prestigious marathon in January when he completed his first 26.2-miler — the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix – in a time of 3 hours and 22 minutes. That easily beat the 3:30 qualifying standard for his age bracket.
But for Gurule, it wasn’t pretty.
Feeling frisky early in the race, he left the 3:30 pace group he planned to run with and sped ahead, catching the 3:20 pacers at mile two. At mile 10 and with spunk in his stride, he surged again and appeared en route to a magical running experience.
However, at mile 17 the bottom began falling out, and by mile 21 Gurule hit the infamous “wall” that is indiscriminate in taking no prisoners. His body now rebelling from the earlier pace, Mark did all he could just to hold on until the finish. Still, finishing was a real high.
“What a rush! I have never experienced anything like it,” he said.
Needing assistance from medical aides, who helped him walk and iced and wrapped his calves, brought him back to reality. It also made him determined that the next time would be different.
For one thing, he knows he should have listened to the advice he had been given beforehand from long-time American mile record holder Steve Scott and former top world marathoner Khalid Khannouchi, who both told him to start conservatively in order to conserve energy for later. He also realized he had to consume more liquids and gels during the marathon and, most important, he had to build more endurance.
Forty-mile training weeks have turned into 50-, 60- and even 70-mile weeks this time, and they have included building up to a 20-miler two weeks ago. That’s been supplemented with a steady dose of 21-minute 5Ks on a treadmill and speed workouts that have fondly earned him the nickname “The Maniac” at the Pueblo Athletic Club.
“Our family motto is ‘desire plus effort equals satisfaction’,” noted Gurule, whose No. 9070 race bib at Boston will be pinned to a running singlet bearing those exact words. It’s also something he has said often to the youth basketball teams he has coached for several years.
That Gurule should be running a marathon in 2008 hardly seemed possible just three years ago. The 1980 Central High grad had been a recreational runner since 2002, but he was out of breath and collapsed after finishing The Pueblo Chieftain’s Spring Runoff 5K in 2005. A subsequent physical exam and blood test revealed he had high cholesterol, asthma, high blood pressure and, basically, was considered “at risk” for heart problems up the road.
A lifestyle makeover took place, and it included healthier eating and a much greater focus on running and exercise. The results have been dramatic.
He’s dropped 15 pounds, his vitals have gotten on track and the workouts have lowered his racing times as well. He recorded a 1:11:30 10-miler in the Runoff last month and a 1:31 Rock Canyon Half-Marathon in December.
“I feel read good and am excited (about Boston) but nervous,” he admitted.
His wife, Deborah, will be in Beantown following his start in the first wave. Their three kids, families and his fellow workers at the Pueblo Regional Building Department, where he is a building inspector, will have to turn on cable to watch the marathon on Versus or get the reports later.
Gurule’s goal of running a 3:30 is reasonable yet perhaps lofty considering the crowded course and overall pageantry. The possible adverse weather conditions shouldn’t be a problem for him since he’s bringing the necessary running apparel for all conditions.
“I feel like I’m going into it smart and that I learned from my mistakes,” he said.
Trail run fans can test both their endurance and time-prediction skills in the scenic, annual Ben & Matt’s Trail Run that will take place April 27. The 10 miles+ course starts and finishes at the Nature Center, with much of it taking place on the bluffs above and toward Liberty Point. This is one of the Southern Colorado Runners’ Prediction Series races that has no entry fee and no shirts or awards.
The weekend of May 3-4 gives quick-recovery runners the chance to double dip on two unusually speedy (read: flat) courses. On May 3, Canon City will be the site of the Blossom Day 5M/5K, starting at the relatively new section of the river trail system near the Centennial Park Bridge. Race officials are thinking ahead. Hence, in case of flooding along the river trail, they’ll move the race east a few blocks to the Ninth Street trail entrance and will eliminate the 5-mile race. The following day, the annual Cinco de Mayo 5K/10K and 2-mile fun walk will take place at the Colorado State Fairgrounds. Besides the chance to crank out swift times, the race also is the third and final leg of the Toyota Benefit Series that includes last month’s Spring Runoff and this Saturday’s Spank Blasing Run.
Jessie Quintana of Pueblo West is in a win-win situation. First, she was accepted into the St. George Marathon to be held Oct. 4 in Utah. But, on a longshot, she also tossed her name into the lottery for the Nike Women’s Marathon scheduled for Oct. 19 in San Francisco and was selected among the 30,000 who applied. Only 72 women from Colorado were picked last year. Realizing that 15 days between marathons is not enough time for her to recover, Jessie will run one or the other. If she can find a travel partner for the unique women’s marathon, she’ll run that one. If not, she will head to St. George.
Swimming in new age brackets this year, Carrie Slover, 55, of Pueblo and Cecil Townsend, 60, of Avondale represented the Pueblo Poolhardies well at the 2008 Colorado Masters state swim championship meet held at Denver University last month. Slover made the most of her four events, winning all of them. Besides her 100 individual medley victory, she established new age-division state records in three backstrokes – the 50 (36.86 seconds), 100 (1:17.71) and 200 (2:26.15). Townsend swam an astonishing 11 events and earned high-point honors for his age division.
Mountain bikers have the option this Sunday of competing in either the Lake Pueblo Arkansas Point Bike Challenge mountain bike races that are taking place south the dam or experience the ninth annual CSU-Pueblo X Challenge adventure race that starts at the university. X Challenge teams will compete in a little bit of everything – rope climbing, cycling, running and kayaking not to mention navigating and problem solving.
• Saturday – Spank Blasing Memorial, 5K/10K runs & 2M fun walk, 9 a.m., CSU-Pueblo (549-2013).
• Sunday – Lake Pueblo Arkansas Point Bike Challenge mountain bike races, 10 a.m., Lake Pueblo (248-9692).
• Sunday — CSU-Pueblo X-Challenge (adventure race) ,8 am, CSU-Pueblo (549-2619).
• April 27 – Ben & Matt’s Trail Mix (Prediction Series race), 10+ miles, 8 a.m., Pueblo Nature Center (547-8182).
• May 3 – Blossom Day 5K Run & 5K Run/Walk, 8 a., Centennial Park, Canon City (429-4007).
• May 4 – Cinco de Mayo, 5K/10K runs & 2M fun walk, 9 a.m., State Fairgrounds (564-7659).
• May 11 – Diabetic Run (5K run & 2M walk, 9 a.m. Mineral Palace Park (544-6391).
• May 11 – Yappy Dog Run (Prediction Series race), 8.6M, 8 a.m., South Mesa Elementary School (543-6982).
• May 31 – Run for Rio, 5K, 8 a.m., Rye High School (947-3682).
• Southern Colorado Runners: www.socorunners.org/
• Blossom Day Run: www.ccblossomfestival.com/cms2/
• Lake Pueblo Bike Challenge: www.sctb02.org/events.html
• X Challenge: http://ceeps.colostate-pueblo.edu/exhpr/xchallenge.htm
Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at email@example.com.