Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, Janury 6, 2013
On Sunday, Janury 6, 2013
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013
When you run over thirty races a year and you are fast enough to sometimes win them outright, like Beau Atwater did at the Morris County Striders Summer Series cross country race last July, things can happen. Atwater, of Bernardsville won the M50 division of the Mini One grand prix and his name is on the top of the charts in the Cross Country Grand Prix as well.
That’s the good news. The darn it moment came in the New Balance Grand Prix when Atwater missed third place in his age division by a mere three points. It shouldn’t have happened either, but injuries can really mess things up.
After the Liberty Half Marathon in September, Atwater was nursing a groin injury. It wasn’t bad enough to keep him from running but he didn’t want to jeopardize his training for the ING New York City Marathon so he skipped a half marathon that he might have run in October. That was crucial, because without that non championship five hundred point Category Three race he was going to have to count the Grand Finale Ten Mile championship in December to round out his nine race in the grand prix. With a much smaller field the ten mile race is a poor place to get points and Atwater walked away with only 455 points – about twenty points below what he might have earned at the October half marathon.
The story gets worse. Atwater skipped that crucial October race so he would be OK to race the New York race and we all know what happened – Hurricane Sandy blew the race right off the map.
Not that Atwater is crying over spilled milk, but the other of his two marathons a year was the Boston Marathon. Remember that? It was so hot at Boston last April that runners were being encouraged to defer and not even start. Atwater was not one of those. He choose to run it and in his words, it was not pretty.
“I ran the first half in ninety-one minutes, which was insanely fast, and then just blew up at mile fourteen and started walking and barely finished in three and a half hours,” he said.
In high school Atwater was a four hundred and the 800 meter guy. His first forays back into racing was at the now discontinued Midland Run in Far Hills and he was not racing a lot until about three years ago.
“I was running maybe six or seven races a year,” said Atwater. “It wasn’t until I met Mark Washbourne and his club (Do Run Running Club) that I started running a lot.”
While he runs a lot of 5K’s and hovers a bit over and under 18 minutes, they are not his favorite distance. He thinks he does better at distances from 15K to half marathon. A marathon is a gamble from his perspective.
“You can gut out a half marathon. Its’ so much more different than a marathon,” he said. “In a marathon you have no idea what’s going to happen; nutrition is critical, weather is critical, all these things are critical.”
“In a half marathon almost nothing is critical. If you feel good you can get up and run well. It can be bad weather, you can run well, you can have not eaten well and still have a good half marathon. In a marathon you will just crash and burn.”
When Atwater is not building mileage for a marathon he trains around thirty-five miles per week, and when in training it goes up to sixty to sixty-five miles. He is happy to have races in his marathon build-up phase.
“I don’t think the marathon training is so horribly hard that I can’t run races in there,” said Atwater. “In fact I prefer the races over the marathon.”
The marathons keep him motivated to train but he says self deprecatingly he would be too lazy if it weren’t for the marathons being his goal.
During the week Atwater trains in Johnson Park in Piscataway near where he works and speed work at Bernardsville High School or at the track at Rutgers. On Saturday’s he trains with the Do Run club in Randolph, weather and trail conditions permitting.
Atwater is looking forward to success in the grand prix this year. He will be the baby of the class in the M55 division, a spot runners get every five years. Atwater is happy to be getting out of the M50 where the top two men were in the top three overall in 2012, Gary Leaman of Hardwick and Rodrigo Caceres of Elizabeth.
Atwater is hoping to run a good Boston Marathon this April. He will need it if he is to qualify for Boston in 2014. He can qualify for the New York marathon by using one of his half marathons but for Boston he needs to run a good marathon this year.
“I don’t need another two “bad weather – act of God marathons”, he said. All the Boston and New York marathon fans will say “Amen” to that.