Breakthrough Race for Huebner at Grandma’s Leads to an OTQ
By Mike Giberti
Remember reading about Andrew Huebner, that guy from Portsmouth, NH who shattered the course record at the Eastern States 20 Miler back in March? Well he had an even bigger race last weekend out in Duluth, MN and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon with a 2:17:05 finish for 14th overall at Grandma’s Marathon. We caught up with Andrew with a little Q&A on his accomplishment. Here’s what he had to say:
How did the race pan out for you?
I was really happy with how everything seemed to fall into place. At the start, a group of about 20 guys took off running what seemed like sub 5 pace. I said “no thanks!” to that and hung back running 5:15s for the opening miles. The most helpful thing that happened in the race (and a huge reason I wanted to go to Grandma’s in the first place) was that a nice group of 8 or 9 guys started to assemble right at the beginning who were all trying to run the 2:18 B standard. There was lots of chatter about it initially, and we organized ourselves into a nice little team working for a common goal. I was feeling comfortable, almost to a fault- I got antsy a few times when I felt the pace slow down and took over the lead, trying to push the pace a little more. I went through the half in 1:08:59, not leaving much room for error in the second half! I stuck in with this group until about 20 miles
What was the turning point of the race?
The turning point for me came around the 20 mile point when I broke away from this group. I knew we were basically right on pace, maybe 15-20 seconds under 2:18 at that point- and I was getting a little stressed that I would be cutting it too close going into the last few miles. I was feeling pretty strong still and I wanted to give myself a little more cushion, which is why I decided to basically lay it all out there at this point. The ups and downs of that last 10k would be too much to go into detail about- but I’m pretty sure I touched on both ends of the emotional and physical spectrum. Never having run a marathon at these speeds, I wasn’t exactly sure how my body would hold up until I got to 23, 24, 25, etc. It was an incredible grind mentally too. With 5K to go, having trained for this race for basically 6 months with little time for anything else, I realized now it was all coming down to my performance over these next 15 minutes.
What aspect of the race did you struggle with most?
My biggest struggle in the race was trusting this group of guys that we wouldn’t be cutting it too close or leaving too much work to do at the end of the race. Looking back, most of them were probably more experienced marathon runners than me- so I’m glad I didn’t lose it and try to speed away from them too early. Because I would’ve probably faded by the end!
How did it feel after crossing the line knowing you earned a ticket to race the trials in two years?
I didn’t let myself think I had done it until I actually crossed the line. It was an amazing feeling. Months of work and preparation, anticipation, all the weight of that stuff- just melted away in a matter of seconds. I just dropped my arms down and felt such a wave of relief. I think it was relief mostly because I knew deep down that I was capable of this kind of race- it was just a matter of executing it. And even though I knew I was capable, my window to qualify was fairly narrow!
What lies next on your racing schedule (after some well-earned rest)?
I’m not sure what my next plans are. I’m still coming off the highs of this race. My initial feelings are that I’d like to get out there and do more racing in general this summer and fall. Shorter distances at first. With the shape I’m in now I could probably PR in just about any distance which is a pretty cool feeling!
Looks like this guy is in fantastic shape! Watch for him to continue to break records in road races all over New England this summer. The LVL Legion wishes him the best in his training and upcoming races.
Here is video of Huebner way out front in the initial steps of the Granite State 10 Miler last October. He went on to win the race in a course record time of 51’39”.