NOVA Featured Runner: Ben Brooks

By | May 2, 2016

In recognition of his awesome performance in Boston, as well as his years of participation in the NOVA Running Club and many great races along the way, Ben Brooks has been selected as the NOVA Featured Runner. We all know Ben from his contributions to the club on the racing side but Ben has been gracious enough to allow the the NOVA gang to learn a bit more about his running history, future running goals and recent performance in Boston which solidified the nomination! We’re glad to have Ben with the group, and look forward to many more great races from him.

From Coach Jerry:Ben has continued his rapid improvement since joining NOVA, and after setting all of his PRs in 2015, he would have run another at Boston if not for his ill-timed illness. But despite not being 100%, and the very challenging weather conditions, Ben ran a very, very strong race. Indeed, of all of the athletes who I coach who ran at Boston this year, Ben was the only one who ran faster than his goal, which is a testament to his excellent mental preparation and his toughness. Ben is a hard worker who will keep improving, and that marathon PR is going to come next time out.

◦Marathon: 3:10:41 (2015 Boston Marathon)
◦Half Marathon: 1:26:50 (2015 DC Rock-n-Roll Half)
◦10 Mile: 1:05:05 (2015 Army 10 Miler – 2nd one ever)
◦12K: 46:51 (2015 USATF 12K)
◦10K: 39:06 (2015 USATF 12K)
◦5K: 18:35 (2015 Clarendon Day Run)

Notice a trend? 2015 was a good year!

2.Goal Race:
My goal race for this year was the Boston Marathon. I was hoping to run a 3:04, as this would be the race that would get me closer to my goal of breaking 3 hours in a marathon. For the second year in a row, events leading up to Boston weren’t really supportive of me meeting my goal. I’m still very proud of my Boston performance, and will look to add a fall marathon which will be a first for me. All four of the marathon’s I’ve run have been in the Spring, and I’m looking at the Richmond Marathon as my next goal race. I will add a couple of half marathons, perhaps the Air Force/Navy Half and one or two others depending upon timing.

3.Best Race Performance:
My best race performance was my last race of 2015, the USATF 12K. I ran that race really hard and although the distance is unusual it was a good race for me. As a late comer to running, every race is a learning experience on how to run and pace according to feel, how to manage pain thresholds, and how to win the “mind game” of how much to push my body. I felt like I did well in all three facets and put in a smart and strong performance.

4.How I found NOVA & What I Like Best:
After running my first marathon in March of 2013, I realized how much I missed the camaraderie that comes from being part of a team. I also knew that if I wanted to get better I needed the guidance of a coach and to run with people faster than me. I found NOVA on the Internet and did my own workout at the same time the NOVA team was running a practice. Lisa introduced herself and I met a few other members, and I felt so welcomed that I didn’t check out any other local teams. NOVA was the place for me.
◦I like that NOVA is truly a team. We compete together, we support each other, and we socialize together. I have gotten faster thanks to to NOVA, and have made several friends along the way.

5.Best advice from Jerry:

I was in great shape 2 months out from Boston this year, until I got hit with the flu, strep throat, sinus and ear infections all at once. I didn’t go for a long run for 4 weeks and was bed ridden for 2 1/2 weeks. My first run back was 3 weeks out from the marathon. I shared my running plan with Jerry and he suggested several changes given the unique circumstances of my situation. One key change was the last long run before Boston, and I believe his suggestion to lower the intensity level prevented me from getting the calf muscle spasms that plagued me in my last two marathons. His advice was priceless, and I’ll incorporate it into my future running plans.

6.Thoughts on recent Boston performance:
I learned two important lessons in this race. One, was that I should trust what my body is telling me and run based on this feedback loop. My gps watch wasn’t working the first 4 miles or so, which required me to pace myself based on feel. As the race continued on, I was running much faster than my expected finish time and continued to run based on how I felt. This was the first time I’ve done this, and it was a good learning experience. The second lesson I learned is that not every race needs to be a PR to be a great race result. This wasn’t my fastest marathon time, but it was certainly my favorite marathon. I have never finished a race that strongly, and it was incredibly exhilarating to run 30-40 seconds per mile faster than average pace and pass so many other runners on the way to the finish line. I was proud of the effort.

7.Other non-running activities I enjoy:
I love spending time with my two daughters, they are the center of my universe!