The Little Things . . .

a Going the Distance newsletter

Early December 2017 || issue #62
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Some years ago, after the men's Olympic Marathon Trials in Hawaii, Duncan Macdonald said the marathon "was designed by perverts to be run by people with sick minds." Pete Pfitzinger responded: "The marathon is grueling but success comes through preparation. You get ready for a marathon like you get ready for war. But if you're not prepared for the marathon, it takes a sick mind to run it."

As the training season begins for the Boston Marathon in April, we have reports from Tammie Robie and Katie Cooper, who trained very well for their fall marathons.


Tammie Robie

Fernando coached me to some pretty awesome PRs back in the day before a pregnancy and a series of injuries and illnesses kept me from running well in recent years.

This summer, I reached out to Fernando after 6+ years of running 'on my own'. I am finally healthy and feeling motivated and knew that Fernando would be that piece to the puzzle my running life needed! Knowing my age and how far from my PRs I have drifted, Fernando prescribed workouts and paces that I was able to complete while putting in the work to get me back on track with my running. It was the best decision I could have made! The GTD program is truly personal and fit perfectly with what I needed.

Fernando has a way of making a runner feel like they are the only person he's working with, even with all of the other people he is coaching. I'm older now, it had been a long time since I had done this, and I'm nowhere near as fast as I once was . . . but Fernando helped me feel like my former self. His weekly prescriptions definitely got me to a place where a strong marathon is possible.

At Baystate, I felt really good and held 6:50-6:55 pace for 18 miles. I started to suffer from nausea and it got warm later in the race - that slowed me down, but I was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other and finished with a time that is respectable. I am confident that with Fernando's coaching I will continue to improve and I am excited for 2018!

[On October 22, Tammie ran 3:11 at the Bay State Marathon in Lowell, good for 6th master and a Boston Qualifier. Tammie writes that "my marathon PR (Houtson 2010, of course with Fernando) is 2:49. That's a time I'll take to my grave with pride!"]


Katie Cooper

There are many reasons that I run. My favorite reason is that it has connected me to people who I would never meet otherwise. Coach Fernando Braz is a big example of this.

I was connected with Coach Braz in the spring of 2016. From the start, I liked his style of coaching. He pushed me just enough and the workouts were always creatively well thought out. At 37, with a husband and two girls of my own, I was racing times that I did back when I was much younger. It was so fun to compete and to train with others.

However, my run goals faded when I got super sad with what was happening around me this past summer. Coach Braz was genuinely worried. I will be forever grateful that we discussed my past running experiences and life. What was very clear is that I have had many setbacks in my life, but I was able to work through a lot of them by staying positive, relying on faith, surrounding myself with caring individuals, and by running. We came up with a plan to run the Philadelphia Marathon.

This marathon journey was exactly what I needed on so many levels. Coach Braz kept me focused on my running goal. He gave me a plan each week. He was very specific about the distances, paces, fuel/hydration, and the recovery. We made modifications when we needed to. When I had a question about the training, he answered it. I had two races as prep; both became races that were super encouraging. My half marathon at Baystate became a personal best and a first place finish. I was in the middle of the training cycle! I came into the Philadelphia Marathon feeling fully confident of my training and fully supported. I was dedicated to the program that he set up for me and he was there for me every step of the way.


Philadelphia Marathon is known for being one of the best courses out there. An element that an athlete or coach cannot control is the weather. It happened to be a very windy day. Coach Braz gave me the best possible pep talk that he could. I couldn’t wait to get the marathon started and was well tapered and feeling physically and mentally strong.

Miles 1 to 8, I focused on pace and worked so hard to try to get a rhythm. There were bouts of wind in the city miles, but I was right on target. Then some hills and some more bouts of wind came into play and knew my pace was slightly off.

At mile 14, I saw my husband. He handed me an energy Gu packet and I whimpered, “this is so hard.” With conviction my husband yelled, “You got this.” At that moment, I stopped thinking about myself. I thought about the past 4 months of this marathon journey.

My family supported me the entire time, I had friends who believed in me and even biked next to me, and I had Coach Braz’s guidance. I couldn’t stop because I was tired from the wind. I needed to put one foot in front of the other and make this our journey together.

That is exactly what I did. I took one mile at a time and did not even look at my watch. For miles 14 to 20 it was mostly wind in my face, but I knew I was doing my very best. I kept thinking this is the only place I need to be and soon I can tell everyone about this. I had practiced and prepared with numerous long runs, so I focused on my preparation too.

Mile 20 was a relief. I knew I was going to finish and most of the wind was at my back. Seeing that finish line is one of the greatest feelings ever! I was so happy and caught my husband’s eye right away. I was like Rocky from the Rocky movie yelling “Ron” instead of Adrian. Being a highly emotional person, I instantly told him all the highlights. Not sure why some suffering makes me really appreciate what I have, but it does!

As soon as we got on the bus to go back to the hotel, I contacted Coach Braz. He was so excited for me and wanted to know all the details. Shortly after, I contacted more family and friends. I did train with a certain time in mind, and didn’t get it this marathon. I got so much out of this marathon journey and I could never imagine not doing it.

To all of those who question your running dreams, they may not turn out exactly how you envision it. Having the right people in your corner makes it a win no matter your time or place. My advice is to go for it and see what happens. You don’t know the outcome unless you try. You may discover that life has a way of working itself out and that great things can happen if you work hard at your personal goals. You may inspire others along the way. My run dreams certainly aren’t over yet thanks to Coach Braz.

[Katie was 1st woman in 1:20:41 at the Bay State Half-Marathon in Lowell on October 22. She was 9th overall with a 6:10 pace. At the Philadelphia Marathon on November 19, Katie ran 3:00:20.]


Next Issue - XC

Next issue of The Little Things will include the fall cross-country season, with college highlights from GTD runners, Divisional and All-State high school results, a report on the Championship Central Catholic girls team, and an interview with Ipswich's Nadja Ueckert-LaPlante.


The Central Catholic girls xc team won the Merrimack Valley Division 1 Championship. Fifteen members of the team trained in the GTD summer xc conditioning program. Here are some of the m.


Personal Coaching with Coach Braz

Coach Braz provides personal, one-on-one coaching for runners at all levels who want to improve their performance or want a guided maintenance program.

If you are running a spring marathon -- for example, Boston -- you should begin your training now.

Registration Form

The program is designed for runners who have a specific racing goal, or a series of races to prepare for, or want to build or maintain their running fitness. Your personal program may include a weekly track session that may be done at a site convenient to you or with Coach Braz on Tuesday evenings at the Beverly High School track.

Program details
Sign-up Steps


Previous Issues of The Little Things

Please go to this link for previous issues of The Little Things.


Going the Distance is a coaching service for runners at all levels.
If you know someone who might benefit from the Going the Distance program,
tell them about us, and forward The Little Things to them.
Visit our website -- Going the Distance
Head Coach -- Fernando Braz
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For more information, contact Dave at dave@goingthedistancefb.com

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