Andrew Bumbalough is packing his bags for Tokyo in search of some good vibes.
Okay so maybe that is not the only thing he is going to Tokyo for, but it is definitely on his list.
While he is not a superstitious man, Andrew is the first to admit that he prefers running in certain places more than others. There are specific cities and venues that make him want to up his game (or stride for that matter).
The past two years have been long and grueling ones for Bumbalough. Multiple injuries prevented him from training and competing for most of 2015 and 2016. Injuries are hard to deal with in any year, but especially in an Olympic year. Andrew had his eyes set on running the Olympic Marathon Team Trials in 2016, but was unable to compete due to injuries.
One year and two weeks after the Olympic Marathon Trials were held, Andrew is healthy and ready to make his marathon debut at the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, February 26.
Andrew is no rookie when it comes to making the long trip across the Pacific Ocean. In November he traveled to Tokyo, along with teammate Chris Derrick, to race a 10k on the track. The 10k was the main focus for the fall and marked his first race on the track in over a year. Despite not feeling “incredibly fit, I was training really well,” Andrew said.
After returning to the States, Bumbalough and coach Jerry Schumacher knew he was ready for the marathon.
The marathon has been a long time coming for Bumbalough. The marathon seed was first planted shortly after he joined the Bowerman Track Club. He and Jerry first realized his marathon potential years ago during long, winter training blocks. He would rack up serious mileage in training plans that resembled that of a marathoner more than the 5k runner Andrew was. He responded well to running higher mileage and marathon inspired workouts.
After a long gestation period, that marathon seed is finally ready to sprout.
Andrew went through a 10 week build up in preparation for Tokyo, running 115-120 miles a week, an increase from the 90-100 mile weeks he ran while training for the 5k. The biggest adjustment for Andrew was not the increased mileage though. He had to learn how to adjust his approach to the long run. While training for the 5k and 10k, Andrew said the “long run was all about effort and getting the time in. Now, in marathon training, the long run is the focus of the week; the most important day of the week.” He ran many different types of long runs. Some lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes; others were shorter in duration but he ran at an average pace of 5:05 per mile.
No long run proved to be more important than an 18 miler in January. It was one of the few long runs he ran at his marathon goal pace. It was not easy by any means, but Andrew recalled it feeling effortless. He could not explain what it was exactly, but after completing this run he had a sense of confidence about the marathon he had not experienced before.
Andrew remains confident as he completes his final workout prior to Sunday’s start. Confidence is a major reason Andrew chose Tokyo to be his marathon debut. He wants to finish having had a positive experience. Unlike the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon, Tokyo’s course is flat and will have a large number of finishers in the 2:11:00-2:15:00 time range. As Bumbalough still has goals on the track, he wants to “have a solid day,” finishing healthy and with confidence that he can carry into the spring outdoor track season.
While this is not Andrew’s first trip to Tokyo, he also hopes it is not his last. He might not be frank about it, but he cannot help himself from wanting Tokyo to be one of those places that he enjoys running in more than others. Can one blame him from wanting to feel good vibes in a future Olympic host city though?
Andrew will be joined by BTC teammate Betsy Saina in Tokyo. This will also be Betsy’s marathon debut. Stay tuned to our Twitter account and website for race news and updates.