SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. – Plan your race and race your plan.
That was the mindset Joe Wilson, a 1994 Southeast High School graduate and current Wheatland High School adaptive physical education teacher and cross country coach, was taught running cross country in college, and it paid off for him and his entire family Saturday at the annual Monument Marathon in Scottsbluff on Sept. 28.
“I had a plan, and I bounced it off a couple trusted friends – Bruce (Sinner) and Mike (Lashley) being two of them,” Wilson said.
After analyzing the game plan, Wilson felt confident that if he stuck to it, he could come in under the event record.
That’s exactly what happened.
His time of 2 hours, 44 minutes and 24 seconds came in five minutes under the record, averaging a 6 minute, 16 second mile over the span of the 26.2-mile race.
“With the marathon, you never really know for sure the outcome. Sure, you train for it, but there are a lot of variables that can happen over 26 miles,” Wilson said. “The temperature was just right for running. My training was solid going in. The game plan was right. Everything came up aces. I felt great the whole way. I just kept a steady pace and ended up with a victory and a course record.”
It was his first marathon win since 2005 and third overall, and he stressed it was something he couldn’t accomplish alone.
“You don’t do something like that without help,” Joe said. “I owe a lot to the people who helped me get there.”
He pointed to Sinner – his high school coach – Lashley, his wife, his parents, his children, who were all in attendance on Saturday.
It wasn’t just Joe that had success on Saturday.
His wife, AnnMarie, also picked up the women’s marathon win, also setting an event record in 3:18:27, beating the old record by three minutes, while their 11-year old son Sully finished sixth in the 5K in 22 minutes, 58 seconds, setting a personal record for that distance.
“It was neat to see him run, and to see my wife break the record as it was my own running,” Joe said. “It was a great family deal. My other kids were there to support and watch. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”
Joe and AnnMarie took two different routes to becoming the runners they are now.
Joe started young, running in middle school all the way through college, while AnnMarie took a different path.
“I wouldn’t say she’s made herself into a runner, but she developed herself into a runner over several years, learning and researching what work, and at the end of the day, just working at it,” Joe said. “I’m really proud of her.”
For their son Sully, he runs cross country for Lingle-Fort Laramie Middle School under the mentorship of Lashley, the L-FL track and field coach.
On Saturday, Sully competed against people much older than him, finishing sixth out of approximately 100 runners.
“He did great,” Joe said.
It takes months to prepare for a marathon, and Saturday’s win was almost a year in the making for Wilson.
After coming up short in 2018 and finishing second, he decided to circle Sept. 28, 2019 on his calendar as soon as he crossed the finish line.
“I targeted this marathon the minute I crossed the finish line last year,” Wilson said. “I got second last year, and I ran kind of a not smart tactical race. I didn’t put myself in position to win.”
He wasn’t going to let that happen again.
“I’ve been focusing and training in earnest for this marathon since back in April,” Wilson said.
Training includes running anywhere from 70-85 miles a week, an average of 8-10 miles a day with longer runs of up to 24 miles on weekends.
“Being consistent is key and getting the miles in each week,” Wilson said.
However, there is one thing which changes year after year – age.
“The older you get, you have to do more to stay fit,” Wilson said. “I incorporated a lot of body exercises, squats, lunges, core strengthening exercises to help battle that fatigue you feel in a marathon.”
“Saturday, I got stronger and stronger. I got to 20 and felt good. I got to 22 and felt great,” he said. “I got to 24 and finally allowed myself to say, ‘yeah, I got this.’ I powered it home. My last mile was one of my fastest.”
Twenty-four hours later, the Wilsons were back on the running trails getting ready for their next big event.
For the Wilson children, once their middle school seasons are complete, Sully and Miles will travel to Boise, Idaho for the Nike Cross Regionals on Nov. 16.
Meanwhile, for Joe and AnnMarie, they have flipped the page and are eyeing the Boston Marathon in April of 2020.
“I went out for a run on Sunday morning, and I have run every day since,” Joe said. “The next six weeks will be active recovery, meaning I will run how my body feels, 4-8 miles a day, with a buildup to Boston.”
He has already set a goal for himself going into Boston.
“I don’t think it will be realistic to run what I ran 20 years ago,” he said. “My goal is top 10 in my age group.”
Wilson said it would take a time of two and a half hours for him to accomplish that goal.
“You cannot get caught up in the emotion and adrenaline rush at the start and settle in and race my plan. I know my pace. I know what it feels like, and I need to stick to that,” Wilson said. “You have to respect the distance. The way you do that is by sticking to the plan.”