Dan Hoff is the new NOVA Featured Runner! Dan has been working hard with NOVA and his recent PR performance at Grandmas Marathon as well as his other strong results this year made the selection a no brainer. In fact, Coach Jerry specifically selected Dan for this honor, which is a rare thing for him to do! Congratulations Dan!
From Coach Jerry:Congratulations to Dan on a well-earned honor. Dan takes his running seriously, and he has put in a lot of hard training in the buildup to his recent marathons in Philly and at Grandmas. But Dan also has his hands full with all of his other responsibilities, and his hectic schedule has precluded him from putting in what I would consider ideal training cycles. Still, Dan gained enough confidence in himself that he went for at Grandmas, and to break 3 hours by a comfortable margin on a hot day in Duluth was impressive indeed. I always get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing NOVA runners reap the rewards from their hard work, and I’m delighted that Dan was able to perform so well in trying circumstances. Well done!
1 .What are your PRs (5k, 10K, any others?)
2.Goal race(s) for this year? Other races planned?
Having run Grandma’s Marathon a little over a week ago, I’ll admit I haven’t yet decided what I’ll do the rest of this year. I might train for another marathon in the fall, but I’ve also been increasingly considering focusing on shorter races in the near term as I rebuild my base and get ready to train for the Boston Marathon next spring.
Boston holds special significance to me. When I first graduated college, I moved to Boston and told myself that before I left the city, I would run that marathon. My first attempt at a Boston Qualifier was the Maine Coast Marathon in 2014. To say that race went poorly is an understatement as I was hit by a car at mile 15 and forced to exit the race to the hospital. While I was fortunate to avoid serious injury, it was still a uniquely unpleasant experience. Each subsequent marathon has gone comparatively smoother, however as it was my desire to run Boston that got me into that whole mess, it remains as a holdout milestone in my recovery post-accident.
3.What do you consider your best race performance to date?
Grandma’s Marathon – It’s hard to argue with the PR 😉
4.How and when did you find NOVA, and what do you like best about the team?
I joined NOVA last summer after a frustrating experience with the Vancouver Marathon. Not only did I have to take a week off during training due to burnout, I also hit the wall near the end of the race and finished 21 seconds off what I needed to qualify for Boston. In reflecting on the race afterwards, I felt that what I needed most was the coaching and structure of a team to pull me through training when juggling work, life, and running inevitably gets complicated.
If there’s one thing I appreciate most about NOVA, it’s how supportive everyone is of one another. Most weeks, I’ve shown up to practice with some combination of work-related sleep deprivation and/or anxiety about not getting the necessary miles in, and yet somehow, I’ve almost always left practice feeling better about my training. Sometimes it was because the team showed me I could run faster than I thought possible, but more often it was the random inside jokes and conversations along the way that made those long distances feel shorter and easier.
5.What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from Coach Jerry?
“You’ve put in the hard work, now just go out there and have fun with it”
In the weeks leading up to both the Philadelphia Marathon and Grandma’s Marathon, I asked Jerry what my strategy should be for race day. Neither training season went according to plan in terms of mileage, but Jerry’s reassurance that I had run some good workouts, helped me believe that hope was not lost. The second part of the quote, I’ve particularly taken to heart. In the lead up to both races, I’ve repeated this to myself regularly. It’s helped me to remain calm at the starting line and has given me confidence to gamble for a PR in the later stages of both races.
6.What thoughts do you have on your performance at the Grandma’s Marathon, and other recent races?
Following Jerry’s advice, I told myself that I was at Grandma’s Marathon to have some fun. I was relatively confident that I secured a Boston Qualifier in the Fall with the Philadelphia Marathon, so I reasoned that I didn’t have too much to lose if I decided to take some risks midrace. This came in handy as around mile 9, I realized I was going to have to drop the pack I was in for another group that was a couple hundred meters ahead if I wanted to break 3 hours. It took a few miles to catch them, but I managed to join that new pack and stayed with them, even as the group thinned out towards the end. I don’t think I knew for certain that I was going to break 3 hours until I saw my parents right before the finish, but I was ecstatic once it sunk in.
Part of what helped me push to the finish line in this race was a collection of workouts, long runs and races throughout the season where inclement weather, lack of sleep, and/or illness made running feel brutal at the time, but also made the marathon seem easier by comparison. Above all else, I owe my PR to everyone who supported me throughout my training. Whether it be joining me on long runs or just chatting me up at times when I was anxious about how my training was going, I very much appreciate everyone’s help along the way and my race was all the better because of it.
7.What non-running fitness related (or other) activities do you enjoy?
Aside from running, I like to play and watch soccer. While marathon training is not conducive to actively playing and long runs tend to conflict with watching Saturday morning games, I’ve still managed to see a few big games. One of them was the USMNT vs. Mexico in Mexico City, a week before Grandma’s Marathon, which I reasoned was necessary pre-race altitude training (editor’s note: drinking beer and eating tacos at higher altitudes does not count as altitude training…).