Sergio Reyes, photo by PhotoRun.net
The Chevron Houston Marathon is one of the most important marathons in the United States. That, is a fact.
In 2012, they produced a flawless Olympic Trials marathon for both men and women, giving us one of our best teams in many years. To say that putting on an Olympic Trials marathon is a labor of love is an understatement. To say that the labyrinth of rules on sponsorship, event management and Olympic Trials protocols can suck the absolute breath out of even the most energetic group would be an understatement.
2013 is back to what the Houston Marathon committee does well: putting on fantastic events with an attention to detail for the citizen runner and elite runner as well.
Runblogrun will be missing the race for the first time in about six years, but we will keep you updated on the event.
In that light, Jon Gugala has written this piece on the American men in the Chevron Houston marathon. We hope that you enjoy it...
DIY: 2013 Chevron Houston Marathon and the American Men
by Jon Gugala
HOUSTON, Tex. - On January 13, a day shy of a year since the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon, American men and women again return to Houston. And sure, maybe an Olympic spot isn't up for grabs (awesome because we won't have to blush at the sight of the States' best marathoners forced to wear 10-gallon cowboy hats) (no, none of them could pull it off). But while there's no Olympic team to make, 2013 is a World Championships year, and times run by the American men and women in Houston could sway the USATF selection committee for the team they send to Moscow in August.
It's because of the necessity of a fast time that the U.S. men's field was assembled. Give credit to where credit is due: the Chevron Houston Marathon for ponying up the dough for flights and hotel rooms to house competitors, and to Marathonguide.com for amazingly, ludicrously throwing $20,000 into the pot for an American prize purse, split between the four races (including the Aramco Half Marathon).
But to assemble the race's domestic men's field, it was the product of a grassroots effort by the competitors themselves.
The American men, in their own words:
Mike Reneau, St. Paul, Minn.
PR: 2:14:37, 2012
"It wasn't too long after the Trials, really. I sat down with a list of times of what people had run at the Trials, and tried to get a gauge based on the names on that list of what were the times that I would need to hit to make a world team. When that was a decision, it became a matter of finding the right race."
Mike Sayenko, Bellevue, Wash. (since withdrawn due to injury)
PR: 2:14:27, 2010
"I wanted a 2:11 group, and [Reneau] was wanting 2:12, so we compromised. He already had a rabbit set up (Reneau's Twin City Track Club teammate Joe Moore, a 64:38 half marathoner, whom Houston has contracted to take the group through the half at 66:00). You don't get too many races that have a pacesetter for 2:12."
Reneau: "Houston is among the fastest, and time is critical when looking at a list for the World Champs team."
Fernando Cabada Jr., Boulder, Colo.
PR: 2:11:53, 2012
"In June I contemplated not running anymore--scar tissue in the hamstring. I didn't really get going again until August. October, I'm like, OK, I can put together a good 12 weeks and I can get ready for a marathon. I'm in the best shape of my life going into Houston."
Tommy Neal, Colorado Springs, Colo.
PR: 65:00 HM, 2011
"I was in New York, and New York got canceled, so I needed to find another marathon. Houston just worked out in my schedule."
Sergio Reyes, Palmdale, Calif.
PR: 2:14:02, 2010
"I've done Chicago, I've done Twin Cities before, hadn't ever gotten to New York, so [I] figured it was time I finally did New York. But what can you do? Those things are out of your hands."
OFFICIAL ANDREW CARLSON (Minneapolis, Minn.; PR: 2:11:24, 2012) STATEMENT
"I'm dealing with an Achilles problem right now and have been stressing about it. I really appreciate the offer to be a part of the preview, but I don't want to put that extra pressure on myself right now if I can't get my Achilles sorted out in time for Sunday."
Cabada: "If I could break 2:10:30, that would be the world to me at this moment. Sub-2:10 would be good."
Reyes: "If I'm in anywhere close to the 2:13 range, I'll be more than happy with that for now."
Reneau: "2:12 is the goal."
Neal: "Anything under 2:15 is my goal, what we're planning on, what we've been training for."
Cabada: "I don't want to learn anymore; I want to start executing. I need to start taking risks--I've always played it safe. Anything under five-minute pace worries me."
Reneau: "To not be engaged, that would be a failure."
Cabada: "Slower than 2:14, I think would be disappointing."
Reyes: "I've been practicing on going out quicker than normal. My initial approach was always negative splitting. But at Houston last year [Olympic Trials Marathon], if you're not even in contact or close enough to those guys at halfway, you're just not going to make up a ton of time in the second half."
Reneau: "I think that the U.S. athletes will probably end up running [together], and those that want to run a bit faster will make that break right around the half. Certainly that's the type of race you can negative split if you're feeling good."
Cabada: "Honestly, I don't think I've ever been in a race that's been rabbited."
Reneau: "I don't believe I have."
Neal: "You know? No."
Reyes: "Actually, I haven't."
Neal: "Eighteen and 20 miles, that's when you get an idea of who's going to be around."
Reneau: "And then, like every other marathon, it's a matter of who can hang on."
Cabada: "A lot of times Africans come and they probably don't want it as much as typical Americans who peak for these races. I think I could be right there, an outside shot of getting top three. But I definitely see myself in the top five."
Reneau: "With the group we have, I think it could be a really good day for the U.S. field, for sure."
Cabada: "Well, I guess you're never really that sure."
Reyes: "There will be guys to run with."
Neal: "That would be enough to start the year on the right foot."
Reneau: "It's a strange thing: I've always just felt good when I race in Houston. I can't really explain it."