This week’s guest is Zack Beavin, a marathoner and blossoming ultra runner from Lexington, Kentucky who last weekend set the U.S. #4 all-time mark at 50 miles at the Tunnel Hill 50 miler in Illinois, running 5:03:06 to shatter the course record and run the fastest off-road 50 miler on North American soil.
Zack is an accomplished runner at all distances having run 2:18 in the marathon and competed at the 2020 Olympic Trials as well as running collegiately for the University of Kentucky. He came on the podcast with cohost and crew member Sam Day to talk about his race, how he found ultras, and more. He also happens to be dating host David Melly, so they talked a bit about that toward the end of the episode as well.
On the toughest part of the Tunnel Hill 50:
“Fun fact: things get a lot harder after 30ish miles. I was insanely confident at 30, but once I was going up the hill [at mile 33] I started going about 20 seconds a mile slower. I had 4 more miles uphill to the next aid station and all I had was the little water bottle with 1 gel with me and I was like, ‘this is scary.’ At the aid station at 37 I was losing vision… but it got better from there.”
On being drawn to long distances:
“Coming out of college, I was just so excited to have the yoke of college training thrown off. I felt like a free man. That summer, my family was out in Eugene to watch the Trials and we took a trip to Crater Lake and I realized it was 31 miles around and I just decided to run it. I did it, and I super-duper hurt myself doing it… but I had such a fun time doing it and it was honestly like a borderline spiritual experience, being out there for 3 hours, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is awesome. This is what I want to do.’”
On moving permanently to ultras – or not:
“Even if I do continue full-on into the ultra stuff, part of my training cycle for this was training the least specific physiology for the event first, which for me was VO2 Max stuff [….] I think that just kick-started my confidence leading into the 50-mile training – if I was almost in mile PR shape and just rolled into 50-mile shape, it made 5:40s and 6:00 pace feel like a walk. So I don’t anticipate leaving that stuff behind any time soon, especially while I’m still young enough to have it.”
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