Teammate Q&A: Rahul Marathe sets 18-minute PR at 2021 Portland Marathon

As a former semi-professional soccer player in his home country of India, hill repeats and road runs gave Rahul Mahate early exposure to running as a sport. After moving to the United States in 2017, running became an exercise outlet with added stress release. Everything changed after he decided to run his first half marathon, which helped him see training as a means for self improvement. He hasn’t looked back since.

After an eight-week break from running earlier this year, Rahul decided to begin training for the 2021 Portland Marathon. By June, he had a weekly base of 40 miles. After a successful training cycle, which included a series of confidence-boosting long runs with teammates, race day finally arrived. All his training paid off, with Rahul negative splitting his way to a 3:07:01. Fresh off from an 18-minute PR, we sat down with Rahul Mahate to talk about his joy for running, his experience at the Portland Marathon, and his future running goals!

  1. How did you first get introduced to running? 

I was indirectly introduced to running through soccer, having played a little semi-professionally back in India. During my soccer days too, I loved our team’s hill sessions or road runs which now when I look back was definitely the early signs of me picking up running. 

Things changed when I moved to the US back in 2017 to pursue a Masters at Portland State.  Initially, I looked around to continue playing soccer out here but due to time constraints (from completing all those assignments and projects), I really never got around to finding a team or a group. 

Meanwhile, just to kill some time and maintain some kind of fitness and as added stress release from those long hours in the labs, I started running in my downtime and fell in love with it. I decided to sign up for my first half marathon in December and completed it in 1:38 and have never looked back since. 

  1. What do you think about when you’re running? 

Running for me started off as a stress release and now it’s a means of self-improvement, trying to push my body and mind to the next level every training cycle. I keep thinking about the next target I want to hit and use that to drive my training. 

  1. How did the Portland Marathon go? 

The Portland Marathon was an amazing experience. After an eight-week break from running earlier this year, I was keen on getting back to training. I ramped up to a decent 35 – 40 mile a week mileage early June but then I thought of signing up for a race for the extra motivation. Signing up actually worked wonders and got me more focused on training. 

The buildup for the marathon was great, long runs with the team definitely helped , towards the end of the cycle, I did a 20 miler at my then-expected marathon pace(7:26/mile) which was a game changer.  My last (and only) marathon was Seattle 2019 at 3:25. A realistic goal was to better that and do anywhere from 3:15 to 3:20 based on my training cycle.

The day of the marathon I felt really good and after starting conservatively in the first 5k, I managed to pick up the pace and started hitting negative splits. Throughout the race I felt in control and the splits started getting faster and faster. I ended finishing with an official time of 3:07:01 and an 18-minute PR which was completely unexpected.

My wife watched me run a marathon for the first time and she talked me through the pre-race nerves which was definitely crucial for the PR. 

  1. How did you feel after the marathon? Now that it’s over, what is your training like? 

I honestly still haven’t gotten over the high from that race after the huge PR and I’ve since taken some time off to recharge and spend time with my wife. I definitely intend to get back to running in a few days with a few goals for the year left to be hit. 

  1. Do you have any future running goals? 

My intention is to try and break my 10k PR (39:40) before the end of this year. I also have a deferral from last year’s Shamrock Half in Portland. I hope to train for the next few months to break 1:30 for the half. 

Optimistically, around Fall next year, I’m going to try and get under the elusive Boston Qualifying time for the marathon. 

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