On Saturday, June 16, I ran Grandma’s Marathon for the fifth time. Having run it several times before, I was comfortable with the course and knew the extremes of weather that can be experienced on the north shore this time of year. The race was forecast to be a washout, which was frustrating considering I was scheduled to run the Med-City marathon three weeks earlier until extreme heat forced race officials to shorten the distance to a half-marathon.
Race morning came, I got on the shuttle, and when I arrived at the starting area there was a cool breeze coming off Lake Superior. It was cloudy with some fog and to my surprise, no rain! After a brief pause acknowledge the better-than-expected conditions, I became intensely focused on my race. I had not achieved a personal best in this distance for 3 years. I was on track to run 3:20:00 in Chicago the previous October, but asthma issues and hot weather brought my pace to a screeching halt around the 20 mile mark. I finished in 3:38:00, missing a PR by 3 minutes. I was finding some success in shorter distances, but the marathon had become a source of fear and frustration. I would commit months of time and energy to train, only to be disappointed and wondering why I wanted to do this in the first place.
Last August I had my first experience with the Mile to Marathon team and coach Ron at Ragnar Great River. My good friend Brett had started training with Ron and asked if I wanted to be a part of the relay team. After having a great time and a great race, I began wondering if I shouldn’t start training with Ron and the team. After the rough race in Chicago I admitted to myself that I really didn’t know as much about running as I thought. After all, I never ran track or cross country in high school. I ran occasionally in college, but never consistently and always on my own. I’d never learned how to properly do speedwork, I had done some on my own, but nothing specific to the types of races I wanted to accel at. I finally realized that I needed help in order to reach my marathon goals of qualifying for Boston and running under 3 hours. I reached out to Ron in January 2018 and it wasn’t long before I starting seeing great results.
Back to Grandma’s Marathon. Ron and I had everything planned out from pre-race warm-up to crossing the finish line. I felt a kind of calm going into the race that I had never felt before. I followed the paces on my pace band, refueled as I had in training, and raced according to Ron’s plan of running negative splits. I was amazed at how fast the miles went by. Every 5 miles was a slightly faster pace and I found myself feeling strong each time I surged slightly ahead. Before I knew it, I was nearing mile 20, a distance that has been my demise for so many races. Instead of collapsing I remember thinking that I only had a 10k left. And then I thought about how far a 10k used to feel for me. And then I started to notice how many people I was passing. I saw runners who were hitting the wall hard and I couldn’t help but feel for them because I knew all too well what they were going through. I remember a man who saw me walking near the finish line in Chicago and said “follow me, we’re running this thing in.” With absolutely nothing left in the tank, I somehow ran through the finish. I began to do the same thing to struggling runners in the last few miles. I’m not sure how many followed me, but I remember being so grateful for that man’s encouragement. It felt great to be in a position to do that for others so late in the race and also to just be able to run hard the last few miles.
When I rounded the last corner and could see the finish line I looked to my right to find my dad and my wife cheering from the crowd. With that last boost of energy I looked ahead and saw that there was no one in front of me so I began to sprint. With the crowd cheering so loud and with no other runners around me I thought that this must be what it’s like to win one of these things. I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face knowing I had just crushed that race. I heard my name come over the loudspeaker and I looked at my watch: a new personal best 3:15:48 (20 minutes faster than my previous best). It gave me new hope and new energy to pursue my marathon goals. I owe all of that to coach Ron who has coached me so well in just a few short months. I look forward to continuing to working with him to realize my full running potential!
I was looking for a good running group when I found out about Mile to Marathon. I had found groups that were too fast, and too slow, but was still trying to find that “just right” group. My first run with the group I was welcomed by Ron, and all the team members. We ran from Punch Pizza and I actually had people to run with me! It was a relief! I couldn’t believe how welcoming everyone was, and how it was less about how fast you were running but the conversations you have and getting time on your feet. I signed up pretty much right away, and the rest is history! I am so grateful for a group like Mile to Marathon. I no longer dread my weekend long runs, well usually, since I have such a fun group to run with. It helps to know when I am struggling to get up and run that once I get to the meeting spot I know the group will be there and support each other. I was able to PR by about 15 minutes on both my marathon and half marathon, but the thing that makes the most difference is that I can guarantee there will be someone dressed in MTM gear on the side of the course cheering me on at pretty much every race. I know Ron will push me when I need to be pushed, but is also aware that we are all human and miss workouts every once in a while. I was out of the country for two weeks in the height of my marathon training last summer, but was still able to PR despite that. Overall, Mile to Marathon is a fantastic group to be a part of and I am lucky to be a part of it!
My name is Ryan Tracy and I am a senior distance runner from St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights. Last spring was my first season of running varsity track, and I was able to put together a quality first season, pushing me to give up my lifelong passion of football and instead join the cross country team. I could not make this quick transition alone, so I am extremely lucky I found such a knowledgeable coach in Coach Ron. Upon first meeting Coach Ron, my mom and I knew he was the right coach to bring out the best results from me because he had answers for all my questions and believed in me from the start. Coach Ron’s ability to walk the line of maximum results training without overworking me was nothing short of amazing since I was so inexperienced at the beginning of the summer. Coach Ron told me the first day I met him that he was going to build a strong foundation for me during the summer, and he stressed that I needed to be patient for the results I would see at the end of the cross country season. He was a man of his word. The whole season I consistently dropped time from race to race culminating with an 8th place finish in the MN Class AA State Meet and 18th place at the Nike Heartland Regional Championship in Sioux Falls, SD. I do not think there are many coaches out there with training programs that can bring a runner who had never ran a 5k prior to July of 2017 to a medalist at the state meet in November of 2017. My 5k personal record of 15:25 is not something I could have achieved without working with Coach Ron. The aspect of Coach Ron’s training I appreciate most is that there is nothing overly complicated about it. Every workout can be completed as long as you are committed and put your trust in Coach Ron
3. What were the results of working with Mile To Marathon?
4. If a potential client was on the fence about whether to work with Mile To Marathon or not, what would you say to them?
I really started my distance running in late 2013. I had always been competitive and played team sports, even as an adult, and could run and move pretty well for a big guy. To that point, I had run one 5K race in my life, but always kind of had the idea of a marathon floating around on a bucket list in the back of my head somewhere. I went to the finish line of the 2013 Twin Cities Marathon to watch my wife complete her first marathon, and it was that hour or two that put the hooks in me. Seeing the heart and determination of total strangers putting in the final strides of such a great accomplishment, truly changed my life. It was right there I decided that I would run TCM the next year. About a month later I ran my first ever 10K, and I was off and running. I signed up for the 2014 TCM on the very first day that registration opened in February.
In the spring of 2014, after talking with some friends who had run marathons, I realized I needed a plan. I did a little research and bought a book and a plan. I followed the 18 week plan exactly, running 4 days a week, ran my first couple half marathons (which made me really question running twice that distance), and toed the line at TCM in October. I was able to run the entire course, finished in 3:37, and had no plans to ever do it again. Why would anyone do that more than once?
Within a week of my finish, a friend of mine said that my finish had inspired him to want to run a marathon and asked if I would do another. After taking some time to think about it, and allowing the leftover pain to subside, I gave in to peer pressure. I didn’t really start training until the following spring, when I would start the 18 week plan. I had decided that I would do the next most difficult plan in the book, adding a 5th day of running each week, hoping to maybe get down to 3:30. My plan started out fine, but it didn’t go so well for my friend. He started having ankle issues and eventually learned he had some microfractures from a previous injury and was advised against running. At about that time, as the heat of summer arrived, I found that 5 days a week was just too much, and had to cut back to 4. I still trained hard on those 4 days, lost weight, and felt good going in to TCM ’15. I once again was blessed with great race conditions, and went out and ran 3:27, though swore I could never run a second faster.
Shortly after that race, I’m not sure what it was, but I started looking at qualifying times for the Boston Marathon. Being 41 years old, and seeing I need to run 3:15, it was going to leave my mind as quickly as it had entered. Then I noticed that at the age of 45, my qualification time would increase to 3:25. I figured I just need to age well for 4 years and cut 3 minutes...maybe. As I dug deeper, I learned that I would be eligible for the 3:25 BQ time at TCM ’17 at the age of 43, because it would be trying for Boston ’19, when I would be 45. So two years and cut three minutes…I was all in (I didn’t know about needing a BQ buffer at the time).
For the first time, I ran that entire winter, a lot of it outside. I had a two-year plan and I was going to run year-round. I also decided that as part of that plan, I was going to run two marathons in 2016…Grandma’s and Twin Cities. I used my same 4 day a week plan for Grandma’s, just running faster, and I was feeling great heading into the race, thinking I could challenge 3:20. The night before the race, I got really sick. I have celiac disease and somehow became ill after eating supposedly gluten-free pasta. The smart thing to do would have been to not race the next morning, but when you’ve trained for this one day, that is easier said than done. I got up, felt ok, rode the bus to Two Harbors, and took off at the start. It was probably about 8 miles in that I started to realize things weren’t going well. The temperature was rising quickly, there was no breeze off the lake, and I was slowing. By the halfway point, I was hoping to finish around 3:30, and not long after, the race went to “black flag” due to the heat. By miles 16-17, I was hoping to finish under 3:45, and by mile 19, I was walking but figured I would at least stay under 4:00. I could tell an entire story about the conversations in my head over those last 10 miles, but I didn’t quit, finished in 4:22, and spent the better part of the next two hours in the medical tent.
I went home and tried to chalk up the poor result to the heat and my sickness. I soon resumed training for Twin Cities, but looking back, probably too soon. Routine training runs had quickly become a struggle and I was losing my motivation and mental drive. In about mid-July, I set out on a Sunday morning for a 14 mile long run. After 5 miles, I was done. I walked home several miles was 100% certain that I was never going to run distances again.
Shortly after that run, I had a conversation with my half-brother. Growing up in different families and in different states, we never really knew each other well, but he was an accomplished runner. He’d run cross country in high school and college, ran several marathons, including Boston. I told him that I was defeated. He kind of laughed when he remembered all the times that he had been defeated and was completely done with running. He suggested that I take a few weeks off and then try going back slow. I didn’t plan to listen to his advice, but after a few weeks, I went back out, primarily because I had already paid for a half marathon a couple weeks later. I probably ran 3-4 times over two weeks leading into the half. My plan was go slow, keep moving, and just finish. I did just that and felt like I could take a similar approach at Twin Cities two months later. I went into the race with only one goal…to finish. I felt undertrained and had to walk some in last few miles due to hamstring issues, but I finished in 3:40.
About a week after TCM ’16, I did some soul searching in regards to my running future. I was one year into my two-year plan, and it had been a brutal year. I was at a crossroads and needed to decide which way to go. I came to the conclusion that if I was going to continue running and maybe take a serious run at qualifying for Boston, I needed to change something. I started online searches for Twin Cities running coaches. I checked out some websites, read a few bios, and questioned the idea of spending money on running coach while in my 40s. One of the websites stuck out to me…Mile to Marathon. I had remembered being at the Bear Water Run in ’14 or ’15, and seeing the Mile to Marathon banner hanging on a car in the parking lot and a large group of runners warming up together nearby. I reached out to Coach Ron via email and set up a meeting.
I wondered what a professional coach was going to think when this 6’2”, 240 pound guy told him he wanted to qualify next year to run the Boston Marathon. The meeting with Ron went great. We discussed my running history, what my goals were, and how his program worked. My goal was to run 3:22 at Twin Cities in 2017, giving me a 3 minute buffer to qualify. I left our meeting feeling re-energized and motivated. Unfortunately, a week later I took a tumble while elk hunting in mountains of Colorado and injured my left hip. I spent the better part of the winter trying to get recovered and having several procedures and exams before getting medical clearance in March. When I finally got clearance, I reached back out to Ron and he invited out to a team run. That’s when it felt intimidating.
I showed up that first time at Lake Calhoun and had no idea what to expect. Would I be able to run with anyone? These are all trained runners who know each other and not only haven’t I run in a few months, but I don’t look like a runner, and every single mile I’d run over the past 3 years was by myself. (Why on earth would people run together?) Anyway, Ron introduced me and everyone was very welcoming. I had no idea what kind of shape I was in or how far I could go, but I am not one to show any weakness, so off we went. I had no plans of running 10 miles that day, but I surprised myself. We got into conversation and just cruised along and before I knew it, we were done. I showed up for the next few Sunday runs and definitely noticed that running with others was a lot more enjoyable than running solo. The miles just sailed by. It seemed each week that I was running with someone new, but that meant we had a lot of new conversations to have. Soon after, I officially signed on with Ron and started getting my plan. Six days a week? Is he crazy? I’d done well running 4 days a week and there was no way my body was going to handle 6. He also wanted to set the goal of running 3:20. A 5 minute PR was going to be hard enough, but 7 minutes? But I had promised Ron that I would give him everything I had to try and reach my goal, so I would follow the plan until my body gave out. After a few weeks on Ron’s plan, I noticed something very quickly. Despite running more days and more miles than I ever had in the past, I was not nearly as sore as I was previously. When I trained on my own, I had goal race pace and long run pace, and I spent a lot of time running hard. With Ron, I ran at many different paces, but I think the most significant is how much time is spent running easy. At first, it was very difficult for me to understand the benefit of running slow…those miles felt like useless, throw away miles. But as my mileage increased and I wasn’t as sore and tired, I started to understand their importance. Trust the plan!
Over the summer, my mileage continued to increase to levels that I never could have imagined that I would be running…175 miles in May, 195 in June, 225 in July. In addition to just adding miles, Ron’s plan had two key components that I hadn’t previously used at all….speedwork and hills. I hadn’t been on a track since high school, and hills were for sledding. More than any other part of the plan, I point as these two factors as my most significant reasons for improvement. I still had my physical and mental ups and downs, but being part of a team now, I better understood that everyone had them, something I hadn’t grasped in the past.
As my marathon approached, the nerves began to set in. Had I trained enough? Had I trained too much? Was it going to be too hot? That is when the value of teammates really came through. We all were having those concerns about our fall races, but we were all there for each other. It’s a lot easier calming someone else’s nerves that you know is ready to run a great race than trying to calm your own.
The countdown to marathon day was nerve-wracking, especially when it came time to taper. Running less those last couple weeks feels counter-productive at the time, but really makes sense. I was jealous of everyone running early fall marathons in Marquette and Erie because they didn’t have to wait any longer. But finally, race day arrived. It was warmer than I had hoped, but I still felt confident. I also felt like I had this wave of strength from my teammates behind me. I knew where they would be on the course and looked forward to getting to each point and getting the energy from them. Despite the mental struggle with the idea, I had wrapped my head around Ron’s plan of running a negative split on a course that was tougher on the second half. I had trusted in his guidance to this point, why would I change on race day? It was finally time to go and execute my plan. It was really hard to go out extra slow in the first few miles and get passed by hundreds of people (246 in the first 5K), but it certainly paid off later. Beginning at the 10K mark of the race, I passed 416 people and was passed by 18 the rest of the way. In about Mile 17, I was met by Ron. He asked how things were going and I said, “It’s going to happen today.” At that point, there was no backing off. I continued to gradually increase my speed even as the course got tougher when it entered St. Paul. The hardest part of the whole race was on Summit Avenue, but I was prepared and was ready to embrace it. It was also another point of great teammate support…they were always there when I needed it. My left hamstring started to go in about Mile 22-23, but I didn’t dare stop or slow down. I pushed the pace even more, but it wasn’t until Mile 25 when I thought I might actually run 3:20. I then ran my fastest mile of the day in Mile 26. I achieved a 2 minute negative split, and more importantly, qualified for the 2019 Boston Marthon by almost 7 minutes at 3:18:21. My two-year plan didn’t go exactly as planned, but I still finished it where I had hoped I would. I certainly had some valleys to climb out of, but I found the right help at the right time. Finding and joining MTM changed a course in my life and I look forward to where it goes in the future.
've had a pleasure to work with Kels on her 2017 Twin Cities Marathon training and without a doubt, she's been such a pleasure and a great addition to our MTM team...always the cheerleader and helps keep everyone on their toes!
1. I sought out a coach and group that was going to push me further than just a pat on the back for finishing, I still get that here, but now with better finishing times. I chose to work with Mile to Marathon out of respect and excitement that generated from Ron and the other group members he coached.
2. This process of finding and working with Ron helped me overcome and point out the gaps in my mental strategies and push my body to be and do better. He has utilized my natural abilities and paired them with training to strengthen my weaknesses. He has never made my
3. 35 minutes and 22 seconds; that's what I dropped from my marathon time in just 3 months of working with Mile to Marathon.
4. I feel supported and encouraged with this group. If you're looking for something to help you achieve a goal and achieve it to your highest abilities, I would truly consider working with Mile to Marathon and Coach Ron. Plus, look at the track record (pun intended), you don't have this much success on BS.
I've had the pleasure to assist Linnea this past year on her running goals, and what a year she's had (of coarse I'm biased here), Linnea has PR'd in every distance she raced this year from the 1 mile to the marathon and BQ'd twice in the process. Following is her thoughts on her year.
See you on the roads!
The unexpected and greater benefit of joining MTM has been helping others reach their goals. If that resonates with you, Mile to Marathon is the Team for you.
1. What prompted you to choose Mile To Marathon Coaching services? What situation or problem did you need to solve?
My wife wanted to train for a marathon after completing a half marathon over the winter. I wanted to support her by training with her, but I have always struggled with running and knew I needed help.
2. How did you benefit from working with Mile To Marathon?
I went from struggling to run 3 miles at a 10 min/mile pace to running a marathon at 8:20 min/mile pace. I have less knee pain, back pain, and actually enjoy running now.
3. What were the results of working with Mile To Marathon?
Most importantly less pain, Ron helped me correct my stride and referred me to some excellent medical and equipment resources. (Dr. Moe and Wendi at Gear West). He also made me a much faster runner. My fastest times achieved this year are: 1 mile 6:31, 5K 21:14, Half 1:43:39, and Marathon 3:39:39. I had never run a race before in my life.
4. If a potential client was on the fence about whether to work with Mile To Marathon or not, what would you say to them?
The greatest value with working with Ron is Mile to Marathon is the entire package, you get a coach to coach you (Ron),a team that offers support and advice(mile to marathon members), group runs, individual training options, referrals to excellent running and athletic specific resources - plus a discount!(Dr. Moe, Wendi at Gear West, etc... )
First off I want everyone to know that in no way am I a distance runner by any stretch of the imagination. My running abilities are primarily as a sprinter. I was lucky enough to qualify for the 2017 National Senior Games on my own. After doing so I realized that they are over a year away and I needed to..
A) find a coach to help me get to the national level.
B) find a way to stay in shape over the summer months until it is time to train hard for sprinting.
I had competed in a couple 5ks prior to talking to Coach Ron and my PR was around 28:00. After talking with Ron I decided to enlist his services. In only a few short months, with the structured workout program he put in place for me and my abilities, I ran 4 timed 5k's and one 10k this summer and PR'd in every one. With the culmination of my final 5k of the year, Ron took it upon himself to run with me knowing I had a lofty PR expectation. Previous to the race my PR was 24:28 ( a significant drop from the start of the year) and when I crossed the finish line I ran it in 23:14, shaving a whole 1:14 of my previous PR. I know for a fact I could not have done it with out Coach Ron. Am I a distance runner now? I don't know but after competing in the 50m and 100m in the 2017 National Senior Games I have something to look forward to!
I’m so thankful for Coach Ron and the friendly, encouraging, goofy, talented Mile to Marathon team! Here’s my story…
It took me a long time (months and months!) to finally approach Coach Ron to ask for some help with my running, but I am so glad I did.
Prior to contacting Coach Ron, I had gone through two very disappointing marathon training cycles where I followed free online training plans. I ended up injured during both training cycles, which resulted in sub-par, painful races. I knew deep down that I could do better if I could just get through a full training cycle healthy.
Enter Coach Ron. He talked me through his training philosophy, gave me multiple resources for injury-prevention strategies, and provided me with a whole new training plan that included a huge variety of detailed workouts. Knowing my history of injuries, he slowly and meticulously worked me up to a much higher mileage than I was used to. Although the higher mileage made me nervous at first, I followed his plan and ultimately was shocked at how effective it was at keeping me strong and healthy! After just 4 months of working with Coach Ron, not only did I make it to the starting line of my goal marathon injury-free, but I somehow nailed a 24+ minute PR, too!
Since then, I have PR’d in the 5k, the half marathon, and again in the marathon, too. And I’ve remained injury-free the entire time!
I live pretty far away from the Mile to Marathon home base of the Twin Cities area, so I do most of my training runs solo. But every once and awhile I am able to come join the Mile to Marathon team for a training run or a race, and it is always a blast! The Team is very welcoming, and takes care of each other no matter where you live. J The group is very active on social media, so it is easy to stay in touch with the team despite the distance.
Coach Ron and the Mile to Marathon teammates are tremendously supportive and always the first to compliment you on your running successes and celebrate the milestones you achieve. Coach’s excitement for your progress as a runner is contagious -- he often believes in you more than you do yourself. J
I’ve had a great experience with Mile to Marathon coaching so far! I encourage anyone who is curious about it to dive right in and join the fun! I only wish I had sooner. J
Lifelong runner. Professional and passionate coach helping to make running goals a reality for 30+ years. Let's get started making your running dreams come true!