After Finishing As The Second American In Boston In His Debut Marathon, Zach Hine Is Dreaming Of A Sub-2:14 At The 2012 US Olympic Men's Marathon Trials

24-Year-Old Part-Time Community College Instructor Has Been Training Alone In Massachusetts For Trials

By: Zeb Lang
January 12, 2011

Three Cornell University alumni will be competing at the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon this Saturday (January 14th) in Houston. All three won Ivy League Heptagonal conference titles on the track and competed in the NCAA Championships in cross-country during their Cornell undergraduate careers. This three-part series features Max King '02 (2:15:34 PR), Sage Canaday '09 (2:16:52 PR), and Zach Hine '09 (2:16:54 PR) as they put the final touches on their marathon preparation.

This is Part Two, which focuses on Zach Hine.

*Part One Sage Canaday '09 *Part Two Zach Hine '09 *Part Three Max King '02

Zach Hine enters this weekend's Olympic Trials as a lone wolf. His shoe sponsor, Mizuno, supports several athletes, but they are spread across the country, with several of them located in Boulder, Colorado. Zach has spent most of the last year training in his hometown in Massachusetts.

"Fourteen miles every morning is a long way to go by yourself," notes Zach after completing a three-week block of running 140 miles a week. "I've run a few easy days with friends, but mostly it's been a lot of solo training and all my workouts have been solo." In tapering for his second marathon, Hine followed his monster mileage load by running 120 miles the last week of December and planned to bring it down to 90-100 the first week of January and 75 or so the week before his race.

Hine looks forward to Mizuno team dinners and events before the race this weekend and is really grateful for his current professional opportunity. "They took a chance on me," Zach explains modestly, referring to his new shoe sponsor.

Zach Hine

After graduating in 2009, Zach stayed on at Cornell to complete his Masters degree in engineering during the 2009-2010 school year. Running stellar performances on the road at 10 miles (48:45), 20 kilometers (1:00:47), and half marathon (1:04:14), Hine found himself competing well with guys running professionally. Zach started thinking, "If I can run with these guys, maybe I have a shot at this," and a few months after completing his Masters degree, Hine headed to Michigan to join the Hansons-Brooks running team, joining former Cornell teammate Sage Canaday '09.

Hine quickly adapted to the Hansons program training and improved his half marathon best in January 2011, running 1:03:54 in Naples, Florida (the Hansons team regularly makes winter trips down to Florida to escape the Michigan winters). A few months later, Zach made his marathon debut at Boston and performed brilliantly, turning in a 2:16:54 time. Despite finishing as the second-fastest American behind Ryan Hall, Zach was far from complacent with his debut, noting that he had slowed down a lot in the closing stages of the race.

"People tell you that you can't go out too fast (at Boston), but you find it's tough to execute. I was really fit and got overly ambitious. I didn't try to go out that fast, but I got caught up in the crowds cheering me on. I wanted to make a big splash in my debut, put my name out there and make a name for myself. It was my debut in my hometown and I tried to knock it out of the park on the first one."

For this weekend's race, which will be his second marathon, Zach looks to leverage some of the knowledge he picked up in Boston. Very importantly, Hine plans to take in more fuel during the race.

"I'm a bigger guy (160 pounds), so I burn through more fuel than other competitors."

As for pacing, Zach looks to set a personal record.

"I'm not trying to run with Ryan Hall; I'm just trying to run what I can right now."

As for the future, Hine just turned 24 and looks forward to many more marathons and plans to stick around for the next Olympic Trials race in four years.

Since April's Boston Marathon, Zach has made several big changes in his life. He left the Hansons-Brooks team in Michigan and moved back home to Massachusetts, where he taught math at a community college there to help pay the bills. The part-time job allowed him to maintain his intense focus on training while also putting his two Cornell degrees to work.

"I enjoyed my classes at Cornell and hope to someday get a job in the engineering sector, but you only have so many years to be a good marathoner. I can't make a complete living on running right now, so I needed something else," Zach says, referring to his fall teaching stint.

For coaching advice, Hine has returned to the expertise of Ithaca, NY resident and running guru John Kellogg, who worked with Zach when he was in his Masters program at Cornell (Kellogg was the high school coach of Cornell men's distance coach and LetsRun co-founder Robert Johnson). The training has gone well. Hine had two weeks of 140 miles each and another in the high 130s and plenty more (at least 4) in the 115 to 120 range, with all the pace work in the 5:05 per mile or under range. As a result, Hine is hoping for a sub-2:14 performance. Had Hine run 2:13 at the Trials in 2000, he'd have been on the Olympic team. Alas, in the year 2012, a sub-2:10 might be required for him to join Pete Pfitzinger '79 as a Cornell Olympic marathoner (Pfitzinger made it both in 1984, when he was the surprise winner of the Trials, and in 1988).

Kellogg says he didn't make many changes to the preparations Hine did prior to Boston, only getting slightly higher for the highest mileage weeks and allowing more recovery days during the hardest block of training. "I looked at his log going into Boston and liked what I saw," said JK. "Plus, Zach was already familiar with the Hansons' program structure and knew how he was going to feel and respond as the training progressed, so we left all the key ingredients in there this time, only giving more freedom to take extra easy days during the most intense 3-week period, as Zach has always felt that taking an extra recovery day or two between hard efforts during the toughest training blocks has benefitted him in the past." JK is simultaneously optimistic and realistic about Hine's chances for a 2:13 type of race. "Obviously, every 2:14 to 2:19 guy in there would like to chop 3 or 4 minutes off his time and most think they're capable of it in this race, so it's almost a tired cliché to say 'I'm ready to run such-and-such.' But Zach has been feeling strong - almost default - at 5:05 pace or faster, and that's during some very high-mileage weeks with some high-volume workouts in there, so we know sub-2:14 is a possibility if he has a good day. That's the kind of pace he's going to try to hit. You just have to execute your pace and fluids/fuel right on race day and hope the magic is there as the race wears on."

Hine hasn't looked too far past this weekend's Trials, but would like to run his next marathon in New York or possibly Chicago in the fall. He also plans to move somewhere where he can again train in a group and hopes a good race in Houston will lead him to a good match.

This weekend Zach embraces the chance to again race his former Cornell teammate Sage Canaday '09.

"Sage doesn't let me forget that his marathon PR is 2 seconds faster than mine."

About the author: Zeb Lang has been a letsrun visitor since the website's first days in 2000. Lang was coached by RoJo as a Cornell undergrad and has served as a volunteer assistant coach for the past three years while completing his MBA at Cornell and pursuing a career in corporate finance. Zeb credits letsrun guru John Kellogg ("JK") for guiding him to his marathon PR.   

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