Author Archive

Running Economics: From financing a dream to living one

Since the Chicago Marathon, I have put the website and blog on a bit of a hiatus.  After a long year, which included 3 marathons, I needed a few months to recharge the batteries.  It was the first time in a long time that running took a backseat to other life happenings.  During the last few months of 2013, I did a lot of traveling back and forth between Oregon and the Midwest, and also managed a getaway to Todos Santos, Mexico (just north of Cabo) for my cousin’s wedding.  I survived a freak week-long snowstorm in Eugene and began my new job at the University.  Mostly, I stayed busy, and of course, I ran during this time but it wasn’t until mid-December that I got back on a regimented training schedule.  The time “away” was good for my body – those aches and pains I felt back in October no longer greet me each morning – and my mind.

So, I begin 2014 like most of you, with a fresh start.  2014 marks year number five of this whole professional running thing and with four years of racing under my belt, I finally feel like I am hitting my stride (no pun intended).  I had a banner year in 2013, highlighted by a 10th place finish at the Boston Marathon, a 13th place finish at the Chicago Marathon, new PB’s at both the marathon and half marathon, and I earned my first-ever top-10 ranking on a US list, sneaking in at #10 for the marathon.  But more than any of the running accomplishments, I will remember 2013 for what it brought me away from running: stability.

Getting through your first few years as a professional runner, especially as someone who came in on the fringes – can you even consider a guy who didn’t break 30-minutes in the 10k while in college ‘on the fringes’? – was not an easy undertaking.  The most challenging part?  Figuring out how to finance a dream.

Now, I feel like I’m living a dream.  I wake up everyday knowing exactly where my money is coming from.  The best part about it?  I get paid to do the things I love!  Thanks to Mizuno, I run.  And thanks to the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, I have a professional job that excites me.

It is with extreme gratitude for me to share with you that I will be running with the backing and support of Mizuno through 2016.  Mizuno has been tremendously gracious and loyal through the first two years of my contract and I could not be happier to extend our partnership.  I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to represent such an outstanding company.

Myself and other Mizuno athletes with Ron Wayne (far right).

Myself and other Mizuno athletes with Ron Wayne (far right).

Ron Wayne, who recently retired as the head of marketing promotions for Mizuno running, took a chance on me two years ago when I was literally a nobody – 2:18 and 1:06 were my PR’s at the time.  It is with Mizuno’s support that I have been able to become one of the top American marathoners.  By re-signing through the next Olympic cycle, they have afforded me the chance to be very deliberate in my build to the Olympic Trials Marathon in 2016.  So next time you are out buying shoes, try on some Mizunos!  I think your feet will agree with me.  FYI, I run in the Wave Rider and Wave Sayonara.

Equally as exciting as the Mizuno news is that in November I started a new job as Industry Outreach Coordinator for the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.  My primary role is to work as a networking arm for one of the top sport business programs in the country.  I also get to support some very talented students.  And as the TrackTown gods would have it, the managing director of the WSMC (my boss) just so happens to be the voice of Hayward Field, Paul Swangard.  Sounds like a good gig, doesn’t it?  Since finishing grad school in 2009, I have been searching for a job like this.  As a runner, it’s a dream opportunity: it is professionally rewarding, it is flexible (I work part-time), and it is financially stabilizing.  I excitedly make the commute to campus everyday because I have a job that I would be doing whether I was running or not.  And for those 5 hours each day, I don’t have to think about running.  The setup could not be a better fit for me.

Are you considering running after college?  Want some free advice?  Don’t put all of your eggs in the running basket.  Whether you find yourself in high school, college, or are training post-collegiately, I think having a life outside of running makes you a better runner.  For me, working allows me to develop professional skills that will help me when I stop running, it requires me to manage my time efficiently and offers me financial freedom that many of my peers do not have.  All of my non-running jobs – good and bad – have made me a better runner in some way.  They also provided me the skills to be able to land the job I have today.

Having been at this thing now for 4 years, it is easy to see that the biggest contributor to the lack of stability for professional distance runners is tied to income.  Newsflash: very few runners make enough money to exclusively run.  Despite this, I am amazed at how many runners refuse to get part-time jobs to help supplement their running income.  I would tell anyone reading this who is crazy enough to pursue this post-collegiate running thing to find a job find with a steady source of income.  You know, the kind that won’t disappear if you aren’t running well, get injured, or your sponsor decides to invest in someone else.  For most of my peers running is the primary source of income, whereas running has always been a secondary income source for me.  It’s a liberating feeling.

We are probably two years away now from the Olympic Trails, or at least that seems to be the case but who really knows anymore.  Over the past several months, I have been able to position myself really well for the buildup to 2016.  I have stability in my running life AND my professional life.  If you study the tendencies of successful runners, you will find they are creatures of habit and perform their best when they don’t have to think; they just do.  And they ‘do’ because there is stability in their lives.  I know exactly what my routine will be for the next two years and I have a training and racing plan that I believe will allow me to be at my best when the Trials come around.

I probably won’t be a favorite to make the team in 2016, and may not even be considered a contender.  But in my mind, I’m a wild card.  A very stable, well supported wild card.  And that’s the kind of runner who can surprise on marathon race day.

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow I will be traveling to Houston, Texas for the USA Half Marathon Championships, which will take place on Sunday.  This will be my first real race since Chicago, and as a result, I’m keeping expectations a little lower.  I had a few niggles pop up in my training late in November and early December that prevented me from doing some of the work I planned, but the last 4 weeks have been pretty solid.  Because of the setbacks I had in training, I’m not sure that my fitness level is where it was last June when I ran 64:01, so the plan is to be a little conservative during the early parts of the race.  Sunday’s race will give me a good indication of where things stand as I get set to begin my Boston Marathon training block next week.  And running well in April is the ultimate goal.

Houston race information
Sunday, Jan. 19, 6:55 a.m. CT
Entry List
Press Release

Monday I’ll be flying to New York City for a week-long industry outreach trip for my day job.  If you are in the NYC area and want to join me for some runs in Central Park, shoot me a message on Twitter: @cleonrun

2013 Chicago Marathon recap

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When I began training for the Chicago Marathon back on July 1st, I made 3 goals for myself.  I wrote these goals on a note card and taped that note card right inside my bedroom door.  It became a contract that I made with myself.  One that I saw every day.  Plain and simple: finish in the top-15, finish as one of the top 3 Americans, and run faster than 2:13.

Those were my 2013 Chicago Marathon goals: difficult, but attainable.  I ended up accomplishing 2 of my 3 goals, as I finished 13th overall, was the 3rd American behind Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Tegenkamp, and was at least within sniffing distance of the 3rd one by running 2:13:52.  However, I’ve become so accustomed to reaching the race goals I set for myself over the past few years, that I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t initially disappointed when I finished.

It was a perfect morning to run.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky – which resulted in a sun burnt nose – the temps were in the low-50s, and the wind wasn’t too strong.  The Chicago Marathon hadn’t seen a day this good in many years.  As such, it would have been foolish to not take a risk and go for it. I trained all summer long to be in a position to run aggressively in October and that’s what I did.

I ran the first 10k with the large group being towed along by Matt Tegenkamp’s pacers – Chris Solinsky and Alistair Cragg.  When their pace quickened, I settled into a nice rhythm with fellow American Sean Quigley and we rolled through the halfway mark right where I wanted to be, 66-flat.

Running with Sean Quigley close to the race's mid-point.

Running with Sean Quigley close to the race’s mid-point.

Closing in on the finish. Battling it out with one of the Japanese runners.

Closing in on the finish. Battling it out with one of the Japanese runners.

Around 30k though, things started getting tough.  I had been feeling good, running well, moving up since the halfway point, but I began getting cramps up high in my hamstring heading into the final 10k.  When you realize during the race that you still have another 32 minutes of being on your feet, your mind immediately gravitates towards all of the possible ‘oh shit’ outcomes.  My biggest concern?  Making sure that I didn’t have to walk up Michigan Avenue!

My saving grace was that I had people to compete against over that final 5k.  I had slowly gained ground on two Japanese runners, and rather than worrying about whether or not my hamstrings were going hold up, I began focusing on trying to beat them.  I probably would not have run as fast if it weren’t for simply wanting to beat those two guys.

After the thrill that was the last mile in Boston, which was easily the most enjoyable mile I have ever run, the last 2k in Chicago was a true grind.  I can remember the exact moment in the race when I knew a sub-2:13 performance was off the table.  At 35k, I was still on pace to run 2:12:45 (1:50:04 at 40k; 1:50:06 needed for 2:12:45) but I was running on fumes at that point and holding 5:04 pace became unrealistic.  That realization was incredibly deflating.  Two years ago, when I was still sporting a PR of 2:18, I would have been over-the-moon-excited to even be talking about the possibility of running something this fast.  But my expectations have changed and I felt like all of the pieces were in place to accomplish my time goal, which is why I was so disappointed right afterwards.

However, now that I’ve had some time to digest everything, I’m finding it easier to focus on what went right, as opposed to what went wrong.

For starters, it was a good ending to a great year.  A year in which I started the season with a win at the Mississippi Blues Marathon (2:16:38), had two top-15 finishes in consecutive marathon majors (10th at Boston, 13th at Chicago), and lowered my PR by almost 2 minutes (I started the year with a 2:15:38, ran 2:14:38 in Boston and then 2:13:52 in Chicago).  In the past decade, there have been a total of 7 American runners who have finished in the top-15 of two major US marathons (Boston, Chicago, New York) in the same calendar year (*Jason Hartmann has a chance to be the 8th person at New York in a few weeks).  4 of the 7 are past Olympians and the other two have represented the US on World Championships teams.  Then there is me; I am one of those 7.  That’s hard for even me to believe!

My consistency during training has translated into a very consistent year of racing the marathon.  Being a marathoner is not easy and I’m proud of the year – really, years – that I have been able to string together.  And I’m confident that there is plenty more in the tank.  I probably have 4 more marathons to run prior to the 2016 Olympic Trials and each one of those will be opportunities to see how far I can take this thing.  I’m starting to believe that 2:11 is a realistic goal for myself in another two years and 2:11 starts putting you the ballpark.

But more important that the race itself was what we were able to accomplish for the Richard Family.  I write ‘we’ because none of this would have been possible without the generosity of you all.  By achieving my goal of running a PR, we were able to raise almost $5800 for the Richard family. When things got tough during the latter part of that race, I definitely gained some strength knowing that I had to finish strong to win the CharityBet.  As promised, I will chip in an additional $500 for running under 2:15, which will bring the grand total to $6399.  There are not enough ‘thank yous’ to be said for those of you who donated – family, friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers.

Craig Leon: A Run for Martin (2013 Chicago Marathon) from WendyCity Productions on Vimeo.

And a big shout out to my mom and her students at Hicksville High School, back in Ohio, who raised over $1500 themselves!  I don’t care where my travels take me in this world; the kindness and goodwill of small-town Ohio are unmatched.  Ohio proud!

Hicksville High School doing some serious fundraising!

Hicksville High School doing some serious fundraising!

So, what’s next?  I’m going to take the rest of October as recovery.  I’ll be bypassing runs for ElliptiGO rides, as I’ve found that to be the best way to work out the post-marathon kinks without being on my feet.  And you couldn’t ask for better fall weather in the Pacific Northwest right now, so I plan on taking advantage of it.  I won’t race again until the Club Cross Country Championships in December, which will be held in Bend, Oregon.  I’m excited about doing cross country again and can’t wait to race alongside my Team Run Eugene teammates!

That’s how I’ll close out 2013.  I am truly thankful for all of the support from here in Eugene, to back in Ohio, and everywhere in between.  It’s been a really fun year!

Race Splits provided by Garmin

  • Mile 1 – 4:59
  • Mile 2 – 5:01
  • Mile 3 – 5:01
  • Mile 4 – 4:54
  • Mile 5 – 4:58
  • Mile 6 – 4:57
  • Mile 7 – 5:04
  • Mile 8 – 5:01
  • Mile 9 – 5:01
  • Mile 10 – 5:06
  • Mile 11 – 5:10
  • Mile 12 – 4:58
  • Mile 13 – 5:09
  • Mile 14 – 5:05
  • Mile 15 – 5:01
  • Mile 16 – 5:05
  • Mile 17 – 5:00
  • Mile 18 – 5:08
  • Mile 19 – 5:06
  • Mile 20 – 5:08
  • Mile 21 – 5:06
  • Mile 22 – 5:12
  • Mile 23 – 5:15
  • Mile 24 – 5:17
  • Mile 25 – 5:15
  • Mile 26 – 5:30
  • Last .2 – 1:13
  • 2:13:52
  • Chicago Marathon: Pre-Race Thoughts

    I’ve spent the past 13 weeks training for a singular purpose: the Chicago Marathon.  During that time, I have logged more than 1,500 miles, on various Mizuno shoes, to prepare for the opportunity to become a better marathoner.  And this coming Sunday morning is when all of that preparation meets opportunity.

    There really are few better places in the world to train during the summer months than Oregon.  Cool, sunny mornings make getting out the door every morning for those hard workout sessions and long runs incredibly tolerable.  The last 3 months of training have me more excited than ever to race a marathon.  My confidence is bolstered as a result of the quantity and quality of the workouts and runs I’ve completed during this training period.  I’m so much stronger and fitter than I was coming into last year’s Chicago marathon, which was shown by last tune-up race: a solo effort 64:39 half marathon win at Medford.  I would not have been able to do that a year ago.

    Weeks to go

    2012

    2013

    13

    114

    107

    12

    123

    110

    11

    130

    126

    10

    111

    130

    9

    100

    141

    8

    90

    103

    7

    124

    130

    6

    123

    100

    5

    92

    133

    4

    130

    131

    3

    104

    101

    2

    99

    111

    1

    81

    100

    Total

    1421

    1523

    Average

    109

    117

    But being a successful marathoner takes more than just having a few good months of training.  It’s about being able to string together several of these types of training blocks.  Fortunately, I’ve been building on the successes of each previous segment ever since moving to Eugene and my race performances reflect this.  In the time since running last year’s Chicago Marathon, I have won a marathon, setting a course-record en route, finished 10th place at the Boston Marathon in a personal best time, and have lowered my half marathon PR by nearly a full minute.

    I owe a lot of my successes these past two years to my support team.  When you find yourself not worrying about some of the trivial day-to-day doldrums and surround yourself with positive people and influences, you can focus completely on the things that lead to better performances.  So thank you, better yet, a million thank yous to Mizuno; Team Run Eugene; Cooperative Performance and Rehabilitation; Michael Donawa, LMT; Eugene Running Company; Garmin; ElliptiGO; and my family and friends.  You have all played a huge role in making an impossibly difficult task relatively easy.

    2013 has easily been the best season of my running career.  It won’t be complete, however, without a great performance on Sunday.  I feel like all of the pieces – physical and mental – are in place to run a fast time and take another step forward in my career.  As I leave Eugene, I’m not putting any limits on how fast I can run.  I owe it to myself, and everyone who has supported me, to go for it.  What “it” is, I’m not sure.  But I know that come Sunday, I’ll be ready to go!

    Finally, as many of you know, this race has become more to me than just another marathon.  I have partnered with CharityBets.com to help raise money for the Richard family, whose lives were so deeply affected by the marathon bombings in Boston this past spring.  You can get involved by placing a charitybet on my performance.  The faster I run on Sunday, the more money we can raise.  With your help, and amazing generosity, over $3700 has been pledged as of Friday morning.  Additionally, I will be contributing $250 if I run under 2:18, $500 if I run under 2:15, and $1000 if I run under 2:13.

    If you aren’t familiar with their story, 8-year-old Martin was killed in the blast, his 7-year-old sister lost her leg, his mother sustained brain trauma, and dad suffered hearing loss.  You can read more about how and why I got involved with this by reading my previous blog post.

    As I mentioned in my interview with the Eugene Register-Guard last week, the Richard family’s recovery will be a marathon and I want them to know that we in the running community intend to be their on-course support. Please consider giving a small donation or placing a charitybet (performance-based donation) to help support this family as they continue to recover from this life-altering event.  The betting will close 15-minutes prior to the start of the race, which begins at 7:30 am CDT.

    Godspeed.

    Important Race Info

    There are several ways to keep track of me on Sunday.

    • You can sign-up to receive text message updates directly from the Chicago Marathon by going here.  Note, you must register by 11:00 pm CDT on Saturday, October 12.  I will be bib #28.
    • Thee Aadam Soorma

      Thee Aadam Soorma

      The best way to keep track of me will be to visit my twitter page, @cleonrun.  Once again, good friend, social media savant, and one-of-a-kind personality, Aadam Soorma will be on-site, live-tweeting splits and race happenings, as seen through his eyes.  Soorma, a former OU teammate of mine, provided the same entertaining services at the Boston Marathon in April and has graciously offered to do the same this weekend.

    • If you are more of a Facebook-type, you can head to the Team Run Eugene page.  Coach Ian Dobson will also be out on the course Sunday morning and will provide some updates as well.  That’s right, I finally get to introduce Mr. Dobson to the marathoning world!
    • Television coverage will be provided by the local NBC affiliate in Chicago.  They will be streaming the race live on Sunday morning.

    One of the benefits of living and training in Eugene is that you are surrounding by very knowledgeable fans of the sport, both in the community and in the media.  I sat down with one of the sport’s best journalists, Curtis Anderson, before I left.  All bias put aside, he wrote a very nice piece on my how I’m feeling as I enter Sunday’s race.  You can read it here.

    The forecast for Sunday is calling for mostly sunny skies, temps in the low 50s, with little wind out of the north.   If it holds, you’ll have 47,000 happy runners.

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    The 2013 Chicago Marathon elite roster

    Elite athlete roster
    (as of September 20, 2013)

    Men

    Name                               Country                   Personal best                         Bib #

  • Moses Mosop                   KEN                   2:03:06                                     2
  • Dennis Kimetto                KEN                   2:04:16                                     3
  • Ayele Abshero                 ETH                   2:04:23                                      4
  • Emmanuel Mutai                KEN                   2:04:40                                 5
  • Sammy Kitwara                 KEN                   2:05:54                                     6
  • Tariku Jufar                  ETH                   2:06:51                                         7
  • Atsedu Tsegay                 ETH                   Debut                                         8
  • Dathan Ritzenhein             USA                   2:07:47                                   9
  • Mike Kigen                   KEN                   2:08:24                                     10
  • Yoshinori Oda                 JPN                   2:09:03                                     11
  • Micah Kogo                   KEN                   2:10:27                                     12
  • Zersenay Tadese               ERI                   2:10:41                                     13
  • Matt Tegenkamp                USA                   Debut                                     14
  • Merkebu Birke                 ETH                   Debut                                     15
  • Tesfaye Sendeku               ETH                   2:11:18                                     16
  • Michael Shelley               AUS                   2:11:23                                     17
  • Eliud Ngetich                 KEN                   2:11:59                                     18
  • Kenji Higashino               JPN                   2:12:13                                     19
  • Hiroaki Sano                  JPN                   2:12:14                                     20
  • Hirokatsu Kurosaki      JPN                   2:12:22                                     21
  • Yoshiki Otsuka                JPN                   2:12:51                                     22
  • Hiroki Tanaka                 JPN                   2:13:09                                     23
  • Norihide Fujimori             JPN                   2:13:11                                     24
  • Sean Quigley                  USA                   2:14:12                                     25
  • Mike Morgan                   USA                   2:14:22                                     26
  • Mike Sayenko                  USA                   2:14:27                                     27
  • Craig Leon                   USA                   2:14:38                                     28
  • Luke Humphrey                 USA                   2:14:39                                     29
  • Matt Dewald                   USA                   2:17:42                                     30
  • Chris Pannone                 USA                   2:18:05                                     31
  • Stephen Muturi                USA                   2:18:15                                     32
  • Eric Loeffler                 USA                   2:18:36                                     33
  • Chris Siemers                 USA                   2:18:48                                     34
  • Brandon Mull                  USA                   2:19:21                                     35
  • Dastaho Svench                ISR                   2:20:07                                     36
  • Dan Kremske                   USA                   Debut                                     37
  • Jared Ward                   USA                   Debut                                     38
  • Pius Nyantika                 KEN                   2:15:50                                     39
  • The Chicago Marathon: A Run for Martin

    The day was Monday, April 15th.  Patriot’s Day.  Marathon Monday.

    Like the 27,000 other runners, it began with a bus ride to Hopkinton for the start of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon.  It was a cool but perfectly sunny Spring New England day. Over the next few hours, I had the incredible fortune of experiencing the highest of runner’s highs – a 10th place finish at the grand daddy of all marathons.  That elation, however, was soon replaced by chaos and terror.  Bombs.  Blood.  Sirens.  SWAT teams.  Words that no one involved in the sport could have imagined being associated with a race.

    It was a restless flight back to the West Coast that next morning.  As I sat there reading through the various newspapers, trying to still come to grips with everything that had transpired the previous day, I was overcome with a feeling of apathy.  Running seemed so inconsequential.  In the days and weeks after the attacks America learned about those whose lives were suddenly and dramatically changed that Monday afternoon.  Each face had a story.  And each story was heartbreaking.  But no story affected me more than the one of the young Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who was killed in the blast, and his family.

    web-martin-richardsThe Richard family, like so many others, watched their father/husband sneak out the door for training runs in preparation for his marathon.  Mr. Richard trained while juggling both his job and family responsibilities.  And with each and every run he logged, Mr. Richard taught his kids, whether they realized it or not, about setting goals and working hard to achieve those goals.

    When Patriot’s Day came around, the Richard family – Mom, Martin, and daughter Jane –  made the trek down towards the finish line so that they could watch their dad complete this monumental task.  I can only imagine the joy in Martin’s heart as he waited for, and then watched, his dad come running down Boylston Street.  He must have been so proud.  That was his dad out there, kicking butt!

    People aren’t supposed to die at races.  Especially kids waiting to watch their dads finish the Boston Marathon.  I’m not a dad, but that might not always be the case.  And if there are ever little Craigs energetically bouncing around this ball some day, I hope that I will be able to share the joy of running with them.  It was the father-son part of the story that really hit home with me.  Being able to play sports with – and against – my dad growing up were among some of my favorite childhood memories.  Sadly, Mr. Richard no longer gets to have these moments with Martin.

    In the days after Boston, I vowed to myself that I would do something to help the Richard family in my next marathon.  I didn’t know the what or the how, but as timed passed, the answers to those questions became more clear thanks to the help of CharityBets.com, Boston Globe reporter, David Abel, and Richard family friend, Larry Marchese.  At the Chicago marathon in 3 weeks, I will run, very literally, for Martin and the Richard family.  The better my performance, the more money we can raise for the Richard Family Fund.  But I need your help.

    Let me give you a brief rundown of what I hope to accomplish.  I have partnered with the website CharityBets.com to help raise funds for the Richard family.  If you are wondering what the heck a “charitybet” is, well, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  A “charitybet” is a performance-based donation.  In this case, donations that will be based on my performance at next month’s Chicago Marathon.  There are 3 different ways that you all can play along:

    1. Flat Donation:  This means that regardless of how I perform, you agree to donate X amount.
    2. Over/Under: You agree to donate X amount regardless if I run faster than 2:14:38 or not, and if I run faster than my goal time you will increase your donation to X.  For example, you commit to making a flat donation of $10, and then if I go on to reach my goal, you will donate $35 dollars.
    3. Progressive Donation: You place a bet based on how much faster than 2:14:38 you think I can run.  Think of this as a a sliding scale: the faster I run, the more money you donate.  You can choose the time increments and amounts.  An example would be for every 10 seconds faster than 2:14:38, you will donate $5.

    I thought it made sense to set the “betting” bar at 2:14:38, my time from this year’s Boston race and my current marathon PR.  It’s an ambitious goal, but I have confidence in my training, and in my ability to make this happen.  I know that many of you might have already made donations to the OneFund or other charities, but I hope that you will consider playing along as a favor to me.  No amount is too small.  I’ve set a goal of trying to raise $1,500 but I think we can do better!  Also, your donations are tax deductible.

    Help me honor the legacy of Martin, and help the Richard family, at this year’s Chicago Marathon.  Over the next few weeks, with your support, we can play a small role in the Richard family’s return to their “new normal”.  And you better believe that on October 13th I’ll be full of run with some of that Boston Strong mojo at my back and under my feet!  Let’s go do something special, together.

    To make a charitybet and play along, follow the link below:

    https://charitybets.com/users/322-craig-leon

    Rogue Run Half Marathon: Final Fitness Test

    My training for next month’s Chicago Marathon has probably been the strangest buildup to any marathon for me.  I have been hard at work these last three months logging miles and completing workouts, but the lack of racing and modifications to my training regimen have made it difficult knowing exactly where I am fitness-wise.  Although I can point to a few workouts that would probably indicate that I am marathon-ready, they aren’t the kind of benchmark workouts I have done in the past where I could sit down and easily compare workout A to workout B.  Also missing was the direct feedback that I normally get from racing.  I couldn’t read too much into my 20k performance in New Haven because of the weather and I cancelled my trip to Philadelphia for last week’s Rock n’ Roll half marathon.

    photo[1]

    So here I was 3 weeks out from a marathon, and though I suspected my fitness to be in a good spot, I still couldn’t tell anyone with 100% certainty that I was ready.  Until yesterday, when I was able to defend my title at the Rogue Run half marathon by running my 2nd-fastest half marathon of my career (1:04:39), and a full 3-minutes faster than I ran at this same race in 2012.

    To be honest, the performance was somewhat unexpected.  I had just come off a pretty high volume week of training (131 miles) and was aiming for marathon goal pace (something in the 66-minute range).  bilde

    Unlike last year, however, I was up against some good competition and it was clear early in the race that a 66-minute effort was not going to be good enough to win.  After a 4:59 opening mile, I aborted my pre-race plan.  What followed was an amazingly consistent race (see splits below).  I was being closely followed up through 7 miles or so, but was able to slowly pull away over the final 10k.  At one point around mile 8, I thought about trying to go after a PR, but ultimately decided against it, figuring that it didn’t make sense to go to the well this close to my marathon.  After the race, David Laney (2nd place finisher) told reporters that I was “like a metronome”.  Music to a marathoner’s ears with just a few weeks of training to go.

    Now I can say, with 20 days remaining, that I am ready for Chicago.  When I look at the consistent training that I have put together over the past year, it gives me the confidence that a fast time is possible under the right conditions.  There is no way that I would have been able to run a solo 64:39 half marathon 1 year ago.  I just wasn’t strong enough to be able to do that.  What a difference a year makes.  I’m heading to Chicago with great fitness and a ton of confidence.  For any runner, that’s a recipe for success.

    Watch out Chicago, I’m coming for you!

    Mile Splits Powered by Renee Gordon’s pink watch (because I left my Garmin in Eugene):

  • Mile 1 – 4:59
  • Mile 2 – 4:59
  • Mile 3 – 4:55
  • Mile 4 – 4:55
  • Mile 5 – 4:50
  • Mile 6 – 4:52
  • Mile 7 – 4:53
  • Mile 8 – 4:56
  • Mile 9 – 4:54
  • Mile 10 – 4:55
  • Mile 11 – 4:57
  • Mile 12 – 4:45
  • Mile 13 and .1 – 5:43