2014 US 15k Championships recap

The bad: I just returned to Eugene after a 16-hour, door-to-door travel day – woof!

The good: spending 7 of those hours 30,000 feet above ground provided ample time to throw together the weekly recap.  This week of training was the lightest since I began my Boston Marathon cycle, for three reasons:

  • 1)   7 weeks into the cycle, and with 5 weeks to go, this was a good time to hit the reset button of sorts; the hope is that my body will absorb the last 7 weeks of training, while also preparing itself for one last push.

  • 2)   The travel to and from Eugene, Oregon to Jacksonville, Florida makes it difficult to put in any significant mileage.  Cross-country flights usually mean one run per day.

  • 3)   The US 15k Championships race; although this wasn’t the focus race of this training cycle, I wanted to have a better performance in Jacksonville than I did earlier this year in Houston.

    As a result of the reasons mentioned above, both of my workouts this week were short and sweet.  On Tuesday, Dan and I did a set of 3 x 2k (400m hard / 100m float) on the track.  It’s a continuous 2k with a fartlek type effort where you run 400m hard, then go right into a :20-:25 second 100m float, repeating that 4 times, until you reach 2,000m.  Thursday’s workout was a light 4-mile tempo, followed by some 200m striders.

    The rest of the week’s training is below, but I wanted to give a brief recap of the race and weekend in Jacksonville.

    When you are in the middle of marathon training, like I am right now, you never really know how a shorter race like this will go.  I’ve had a mixed bag over the years.  As a result, I find that I get more nervous to run, say a 15k or half marathon, during the meat of my marathon training cycle, than I will for the actual marathon race.  I know that when I stand on the starting line of a marathon, I will have 12 weeks of specific work for that race under my belt; whereas, running a fast 15k when you are coming off 130-150 mile weeks is a bit of a crapshoot.  If I were asked to describe my 2013 15k race in one word, I would use pathetic.  For whatever reason, I could not get my legs to run faster than marathon pace.  2014, however, provided a much different feeling and result.


    Although I almost immediately found myself running out of my “comfort zone” as we wound our way through the Jacksonville neighborhoods on the sun-splashed morning, at least I was able to get out of the darn zone of comfort this year.  I’m pretty sure my legs never even afforded me that chance during 2013.  I engaged in the race pretty early, keeping contact with the front group through the first 5k (14:45).  As the eventual race leaders began to string things out, I found a pretty good rhythm to lock into and had people around me to work with or people in front of me to focus on.  I reached the 10k in 29:52 and would finish 15th, with a time of 45:28, over a minute faster than last year.

    Despite each 5k getting slower, I felt like my effort was pretty even throughout.  The last 5k of this race is one of the toughest 5k segments of any race on the circuit all year, as it includes a 1.3 mile climb to the summit of Hart Bridge.  The plus side to all that climbing that you get an almost all-downhill last 1600m to the finish, which can make even slow marathoners like me seem fast.  I was at 41:12 with 1600m to go, which would mean I ran the last mile in under 4:20.  A bit of commentary, Ben True, the eventual race winner, ran his last 1600m in under 4-minutes!

    All in all, this was a solid performance for me.  In the 3 years of coming to this race, it was my fastest time and highest place finish.  More than anything, I felt like I was racing as opposed to just hanging on for dear life for 45+ minutes.  This would be a tough distance for me regardless of where I am in my training, so I’m happy that I was able to mix it up a bit with some of the guys who do well at the shorter stuff.  I’m not one to think that a 15k five weeks out from a marathon can be a predictor of much, but I am leaving Jacksonville confident that I am on the right path for next month’s Boston Marathon.


    Finally, I want to thank Richard Clark Fannin for once again hosting a memorable race weekend: the hospitality, getting us involved in the community, having guest speakers (Dick Beardsley), throwing a post-race party, and after-party, and oh yeah, the race.  Many of you who read this have no idea who Richard is, but the guy eats, sleeps, and breathes the Gate River Run…365-days a year.  He relentlessly recruits athletes to come to Jacksonville because he has a tremendous amount of pride in putting together one of the best races in the US.

    At Friday night’s pre-race dinner Richard presented a challenge to the elite runners in attendance that I wanted to share it with anyone who has given up their time to read  this far down the page: find one thing in the sport that you are passionate about – coaching, race directing, officiating, event planning, working in the industry, etc. – and pour yourself into it.  Maybe your passion isn’t running, but think about devoting your time and energy to an event that enhances and improves your community.  In today’s world, it’s easy to get pulled in so many different directions; you might do a lot of things well, but nothing great.  Commit to doing one thing great for your community.

    Richard does one thing well, damn well: the Gate River Run.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you can’t put a number on how many Richard Clark Fannin’s this sport needs.  Thanks, once again, for all that you do and congrats on getting yourself an American Record, RCF.  I know how much that means to you.

    The training week details are below.  Keepin’ the train a rollin’…

    3/10-16 AM PM Total
    Monday 45 mins S&C; 10 miles 5 miles 15
    Tuesday 3 mile warmjup. 3 x 2k (400m hard, 100m float) 5 mile cooldown. 12 miles total. 6 miles 18
    Wednesday 9 miles 9
    Thursday 5 miles 3 mile warmup. 4 mile tempo. 8 x 200m. 3 mile cooldown. 11 miles total. 16
    Friday 8 miles 8
    Saturday USA 15k Champs (45:28). 3 mile warmup. 7 mile cooldown. 19 miles total. 6 miles 25
    Sunday 12 miles 12

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    Comments (3)

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      Jim Covey


      Way to go Craig! Thanks for the continued updates. Very interesting. Good luck as you continue prepare for Boston. The neighborhood is proud of you!
      Jim and Ruth Ann


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      Great stuff Craig! Best of luck in your last few weeks of training. See you in Boston!


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