NOVA Featured Runner: Brandon Ueki

By | July 22, 2019

From Coach Jerry: Brandon had a humongous breakthrough at Grandmas, and in running 2:50:29 he exceeded his, and my, expectations.  Brandon’s PRs at Cherry Blossom and GW Parkway proved what had been obvious from his workouts–that he was in great shape.  It was clear to me that he was ready to break 3 hours at Grandmas, and by a comfortable margin, but I did not see 2:50 coming.  Brandon took advantage of the excellent conditions and let it rip, and the result was one of the best performances we’ve had at NOVA in recent memory.  Brandon’s breakthrough was well-earned, and I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to build on his success. 

1) PRs:
– 5K: not sure (upper 17:30s-ish?) – 10K: also not sure (36:teens?) – Half: 1:20:38 Philly 2018 – Full: 2:50:29 Grandma’s 2019.

2) Goal race(s) for this year? Other races planned?  – I am running Hood to Coast in August – I always run this race hard, but just for fun. I have no goals in mind. – NYC Marathon in November – I want to just enjoy the experience.  I have no expectations for a PR. – I plan to run Boston in 2020 – I just want to redeem my lack luster performance from 2016. – Some friends from Ohio have me considering the POSSIBLY of running Big Sur a week after Boston.  

3) Best race performance to date?  
Grandma’s 2019. It was the first time I ran a sub 3 hour marathon and it was a 10:25 PR.  

4) How and when did you find NOVA, and what do you like best about the team?  
I found NOVA via google (I believe) in 2016. I ran with DC Road Runners, Potomac River Runners, and one of the Pacers groups for a while too before settling in with NOVA because it seemed to be the most social with the most fun group of people. I also like the fact that there is such a wide range of abilities so everyone can find someone to run with and there is a lot of depth in each group.    

5) Best piece of advice from Coach Jerry, and/or another member of NOVA?
– Jerry reminds me about not getting too excited at the beginning of my racers. He especially emphasized this for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, the GW Parkway 10 miler, and Grandma’s. I set PRs at each of those races this year.   – Greg encouraged me be aggressive with my training. He got me doing workouts in the middle of long runs. He encouraged me to set loftier goals, especially at Grandma’s. I was just trying to break 3 hours and he predicted I would be much faster.   – Erin Statz has been a great running partner who has talked me into adding extra miles to my runs and has helped me get through some of the longest runs by pacing me on a bike. She also accompanied me to Grandma’s.  

6) Thoughts on Grandma’s Marathon, or other recent races?  
I have been putting in a lot of extra miles (extra for me).  This will be the first time I have ever reaching 2,000 miles in a year.  In fact, I am on track to run 2,400+ miles this year.  I think these extra miles are the result of needing an escape and looking for a way to destress.  All those extra miles are paying off.  I ran a sub 1 hour 10 miler for the first time at Cherry Blossom and then set another 10 miler PR at the GW Parkway just a few weeks later.  Everything just came together for me at Grandma’s.  The weather was perfect.  I found someone I could pace behind for about 20 miles.  I ended up running negative splits most of the way.  The second half marathon was almost 4 mins faster than the first half.  My fastest mile was mile 25 in 6:09.  I think the biggest difference-maker for me at Grandma’s was that I made an effort not to put too much pressure on myself in my training and on race day.  In the past, I would plan out my races at the beginning of the year, set very specific and very challenging goals, and then focus all of my workouts and pacing on what I “needed” to do to accomplish those goals.  It became very emotionally exhausting.  On race day, I was overly anxious and my races rarely went as planned.  This year, I worked hard in training, but with only vague ideas of what I wanted to do in my next race.  I signed up for races relatively late and only after I decided I really wanted to do them and that I was in shape to run well.  I set expectations for races based on how I had been running recently rather than trying to make my training match my goal pace.  On race day I had the mentality of “let’s see what happens.”  In then end, I pleasantly surprised myself in all of my races this year.     

7) What non-running fitness related (or other) activities do you enjoy?   I like soccer, biking, rock climbing, and skiing.   – I actually started running in high school as a way to stay in shape during the soccer off-season.  I have been playing soccer off and on since I was 6 years old.  Most recently, I have played in adult coed soccer leagues with the DC Fray.   – I bike as much as I can, though not as much as I would like.   – I have a membership to Sport Rock in Alexandria and I would like to plan an outdoor climbing excursion this summer.   – Skiing is also super important to me.  I also want to plan a ski adventure to Chile where I can see in July or August.   – Someday I would like to complete a triathlon.