Jim Ramacier, 43 of White Bear Lake has only been running 7 years. However, he seems to have made the most of those years, as he’s dropped his marathon time from 3:10 to 2:37 and even represented the USA at the World 100K Championships in 2004. It’s interesting to compare Jim’s interview with his wife Kelly’s interview from a couple of weeks ago. They show that there are different roads to success for different runners. Finding what works for you is the key. (Photo courtesy of Curt Lyons)
Let me get this straight. You started running because you were pudgy. Within a year or so you ran your first marathon at age 38 in 2:54. And 2-3 years later you were representing the USA at the World 100K Championships. Is that about right?
I had run cross country in high school at Forest Lake but didn’t run for many years after I graduated. I ran the Walker Marathon in 3:10 in 2000 before I ran the 2:54 at Twin Cities the next year. I took to trails and long races right away.
Your wife, Kelly, had success come quickly too. She attributed it to reading everything she could find about running and working very hard. Would you say the same things about your success?
No, I didn’t study running very much. I started running to lose weight. The science part of running doesn’t really interest me. I enjoy competition and being outside. I think I improved because I raced a lot and added mileage.
A quick search of Raceberryjam shows you like to race – a lot. Are you making up for lost time? Why do you enjoy racing so frequently?
I really enjoy the atmosphere at races. It’s a fun hobby and I like to compete and see how I stack up against others. Racing is a social outlet for me. Both Kelly and I enjoy racing and socializing before and after the races.
With all your racing, how do you go about setting up your training/racing for a year? Do you break the season into multiple parts, like spring and fall and try to peak for a handful of races? Or do you just try to race hard all the time?
I try to run my best at each race. I don’t have any specific type of training philosophy. Most of the time my training consists of runs around Bald Eagle and/or White Bear Lake and racing for speed work. I don’t break the year into seasons at all. I basically do the same type of running year-round.
What do you consider your best/favorite distance?
Probably the marathon. Since I don’t do any real speed work I haven’t really run comparative times in the shorter distance. My endurance has carried me through in the marathon and I’m the most consistent at that distance.
What are your PRs?
½ Mar 1:16:15
50M 7:45:20 Voyageur Trail
24 Hour 118.35 Miles
What are your goals for the rest of 2007?
I’d like to take down my ½ marathon PR. I haven’t run a lot of ½ marathons so I think if I concentrate on a little more speed, I can improve significantly on that time. I also plan to run the Walker and Twin Cities Marathons again this year.
In general, what is your training philosophy?
My only “training philosophy” is consistent, year-round running. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to keep racing frequently and stay injury-free. Once in a while I will throw in a tempo run or some pick ups in my regular weekly runs but most of running is at a modest pace. As you mentioned, I race a lot and that serves as speed work.
What kind of weekly mileage do you run, in and out of season?
I don’t run high mileage (60-70 miles a week) – sometimes less. In the winter months I try to keep in the 50’s. When I was training for the 100K I did the same thing. My longest runs (unless I run a 50K) are rarely more that 20 miles. I just do not have the time to put more effort into training.
You have a couple of boys whose names appear in the results once in awhile too. What kind of advice do you give them?
My boys (ages 14 and 11) will both be running cross country this fall (Luke at White Bear High School and Jacob at Central Middle School in White Bear). Neither is especially “into” running but both are active and involved in other sports as well. Kelly and I have encouraged them to get out this summer and run a few miles 5x a week. They do it (sometimes grudgingly!) but they know it’ll help them be in better shape when cross country starts. As for the racing, we ask them occasionally if they want to come along to a 5K. Their decision depends a lot on what time they have to get up and what type of food there will be after the race!
What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
My strength is my endurance. I seem to have a high capacity to run very long distances. I’ve never stopped to walk in a race and have never DNF’d.
My weakness is my lack of speed training. I think my shorter distance PRs are soft and that’s a direct result of my lack of hard training. I don’t take the time to incorporate that portion into my weekly routine.
What is your fondest memory from the World 100K Championships?
Making the team was a huge thrill. I had won the Ed Fitz the fall before but my time did not automatically qualify me for the team. I went to Wisconsin the next spring to run a qualifying race. It was a tough race for me but I made the team. The trip to the Netherlands was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I did not have a great race that day but representing the U.S. and scoring for them was something I’ll never forget.
Do you have a favorite local and/or national race?
I would say that Grandma’s Marathon and the Walker Marathon are my two favorite races. I always enjoy myself at Grandma’s. Duluth is a great city and it’s a fun weekend. This year will be my 7th year in a row running the Walker Marathon. I really enjoy the challenging off road course. It’s very low-key and there is no pressure. The scenery is beautiful. My parents have a cabin in Hackensack so the boys and I usually make a nice weekend trip out of it. Luke has run the 10K at Walker the past two years and Jacob will probably make his 10K “debut” this year.
If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
I run with a great group of guys on my team – the Molar Milers – I really enjoy running for the Molar Milers; they have been very supportive and it is nice to see all the familiar faces at the races. I’ve met a lot of fun and interesting people over the years. My wife Kelly is without a doubt my favorite person to run with. I have learned so much about running from her and learned to appreciate just how hard the “fast” runners have to train to run those great times.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
I wish I had known a little more about fueling in ultras. I didn’t know anything about electrolytes, salt tablets, gu, etc. for my first few ultras. Getting the fueling and nutrition part down in those long races is really important. It’s a lot of suffering if you don’t do it right!