Martin Stam

About Martin Stam

I am really lucky to have a second chance at triathlon. Snowboard and MTB injuries from the same trip out west resulted in shoulder surgery and the uncertainty of ever being able to race again. I spend nearly 5 years away from the sport but now my job as a teacher gives me the opportunity to train and race over the summers.

Ten Reasons Why I Ran an Early Season Marathon

Here are the reasons. Read to the bottom to find out what happened…

Ten. My friend Spencer was doing the half, so we encouraged each other along the way and did a few workouts together. It really helps to have someone to talk with, to share your ups and downs.

Nine. I googled “Can I run a marathon in 4 weeks?” and a lovely “4-week Marathon Training Plan” popped up. It seemed to make sense, so I took that as a sign that I should go for it, even though my triathlon guru friend advised against it.

Eight. This was the first winter where I continued to run, bike and swim a little each week. Previously I have taken a few months totally off to rest my body (and catch up on emails). Keeping the fires burning during the off-season gave me confidence that I could run a decent race. Would my aerobic base from the end of last season carryover at all??

Seven. I live right next to the course. I literally run on this course every time I go running. I know every mile intimately, every hill and undulation.

Six. This time of year (February and March) is a wonderful time to run. It is not so cold that you need to wear your ski gear, but it is still cold enough to use all of your fun/cool winter gear. I love using my imagination, letting my mind wander when I run. If I have layers and fancy technical clothing, I pretend that I’m on a mission, like special ops or something.

Five. Curiosity. I have never run a standalone marathon. Also, I am curious to see how I can perform with such short time of specific preparation. This can give me an idea of how I could do with the proper amount of time and a training plan etc.

Four. I decided to do more run volume this season, compared to last. So this was a great way to get some miles in the legs early on. We’ll see if I can stay injury-free…

Three. Positive results from Nov.-Jan. physical therapy for a knee problem has given me even more confidence that I can push myself and still be in-tune with how my body is responding. The knowledge of specific issues gives peace of mind that I can stay aware of them and manage any flare-ups etc.

Two. This race is a qualifier for the iconic Boston Marathon. I have two friends who recently moved to Boston and assured me I could sleep on their couch next April, should I finish within the qualifying time.

One. My wife was pregnant with our 2nd child (who has since been born. 4/28/18 Christian George Stam! 9lbs!), and she strongly encouraged me to sign up for the race because it is much easier to spectate/cheer with one child than with two. And did I mention the race course goes literally right by our house?

So what happened??? I felt great! I ran faster than predicted for the first half! Then I decided to put the pedal to the metal, which was not smart because I began to fall apart in the last 8K, losing quite a bit of time, BUT I QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON (yay!). I was incredibly sore for a long time afterwards. 

I fell short of my rather modest time goal by only 1 second, which was disappointing, but it was a valuable lesson learned; Stick to your race plan and don’t go guns-blazing in the middle of a marathon.

The Tobacco Road Marathon was a wonderful experience and a very well-run event. The race organizers, communication, expo and volunteers were all top-notch! I highly recommend it, but register early because next year is the 10th anniversary and promises to be the biggest and best yet.

 

Knightdale Sprint -by Martin Stam

Knightdale Super Sprint 9/17/17

By Martin Stam

I like events like this because there are lots of first-timers. It is super inspirational to see folks getting into triathlon. Additionally, sprints are great because you get some awesome racing action and can be home by 10:30am! I’ve been trying to convince my friends and family to do one of these, but no success yet.

Now to my race report:

I am thankful that Knightdale is only 30 minutes from my house. This was the first race of the season where I arrived early enough to get set up, checked-in and warmed up, all without feeling rushed. Good time management on race morning is definitely a key to success. Often race sites can seem confusing and chaotic, especially for someone new to the experience, so it is always a great idea to familiarize yourself with all the information and directions.

In transition, I was on the same rack as the NC State triathlon team, but I didn’t let their matching uniforms intimidate me and I got a good spot right at the end.

 

It really does makes a difference in your confidence when you feel prepared and not rushed. I even was able to get a few technique and strategy pointers from my friends Marty and Cari in the pool before the start. The biggest piece of advice, however, came from my other friend Jonathan who told me that the course is actually surprisingly hilly for this area. Thank you for the heads up!

 

Once I got out on the bike, after mostly avoiding hitting my head on the lane lines of the pool swim, I realized that this was not a flat course by any means. But I also knew that it was pretty short, so I just rode as hard as I could and was able to pass a few other competitors.

The bike and run course share the same road going through a neighborhood and you actually pass the run turnaround, so I was glad to be able to see it and visualize running that distance.

The last bit of the bike was a steady uphill (did I mention that the course is not flat?), so I came into T2 huffing and puffing a little bit. The run is basically downhill out and uphill back, which was mentally challenging, but I had already seen the turnaround so I knew what was coming before the finish line.

 

It was a great event and I look forward to going back again!

 

Stay tuned for my blog post about sports psychology and race report from Kona.

 

Getting to the race in the foggy darkness. Sound familiar? -Watauga Lake Triathlon

Watauga Lake Triathlon 9/14/17

By Martin Stam

Sometimes triathlon events can a real adventure. This one is a great example.

I drove up the night before to stay with my cool mountaineer brother creativetreehousedesign.com. He told me that Watauga lake was actually in Tennessee not North Carolina and promptly produced an old dusty map which we studied on a wooden table by the lantern light of his tiny rustic cabin. I had thought it was way closer to Boone.

I slept well in my sleeping bag on the floor and jumped in the car very dark and early. Of course my cell phone had no service, my brother’s hand-drawn map was pretty vague, and the roads were so foggy that I couldn’t exceed 35mhp. Adventure!

On the twisting mountain roads of western North Carolina I quickly loose sense of distance and direction. But that is the fun part about going up there, you’re always lost –unless you’re my brother, who is never lost.

Luckily, I had budgeted a little extra time for getting lost, and I finally made it to the beautiful race site with enough time to get checked in and set up.

I really enjoyed the course, I would have enjoyed it more if I were certain that I was going the right way for the first few miles of the still-foggy bike. Being in the mountains, there were some real mountain climbs –most notably a big one in the first mile, and a huge mountain about three quarters of the way through. There were a few miles of flat, going along the shoreline of Watauga lake, but I didn’t take advantage and hammer because of the fear in my stomach that I had somehow missed a turn.

Anyway, I finally got back (without having missed any turns) and had a smooth transition with my brother and his girlfriend cheering me onward. I stayed in control for the run and finished with a sense that I could have run a bit faster. But I felt good, which is better than the painful scenario of over-doing it and bonking in the middle of the run.

This race was also memorable for me because I got, by far, the best prize ever; a nice backpack!