Jordan McNamara Highlights 2014 Falmouth Road Race
By: Cait Chock
Jordan McNamara is stepping to the line this Saturday at the 2014 Falmouth Road Race. Amidst a star-studded field, McNamara owns the meet record and is looking to lower it. As with any of his races, one can feel his presence even before the gun goes off, his passion is palpable.
McNamara has poured himself into this sport since the age of 15, his rise to the top fueled by an insurmountable work ethic and, yes, a special breed of passion. No doubt every elite runner harbors an intense drive, but the ferociousness of McNamara's is unique. So much so it's difficult to put into words...it's something you just feel.
That is, after all, the goal for the harrier, incurring his fans and followers to feel that passion so it may in turn breed something similar in themselves. When Jordan McNamara steps to the line this Saturday he will be surrounded by some of the best milers in the US, yet he will stand out, and not just for his credits. Fans will feel his presence, be motivated by the tenacity for which he races, and if all goes to his plan, will be left awed and inspired by the force for which he wins.
I caught up with McNamara as he heads into this weekend's race:
You're coming off one incredibly exciting win at the GNC Liberty Mile. Making this a third time's a charm and beating out Leo Manzano. That victory had to be particularly sweet, can you take us through that race?
The 2014 GNC Live Well Liberty Mile was a race two years in the making. In both 2012 and 2013, I finished as the runner-up by small margins of 0.4 and .02! Coming into this year's event, my only goal was to win. In the days leading up to the race, I learned that Leo Manzano, the U.S. Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist would be in the field: I certainly had my work cut out for me. Regardless, I knew I was physically very ready and went in determined. The race started and I immediately found Leo, sitting right off of his shoulder within the pack, listening to his breathing and waiting for any attack. Up front, Trevor Dunbar had shown bravery and held a 20m gap over the pack, a gap that was growing. Ignoring him, I marked Leo through pedestrian splits of 59, 2:02, and 3:07. With 400 to go, Leo, positioned in 7th place went around the pack and began to assert himself. Immediately I followed him and with a surge of adrenaline, rubbed elbows and passed him by a half stride. With 300m to go, I was in an unfamiliar position, exposed, allowing one of the world's fastest kickers to follow in my wake. Separating ourselves in 2nd and 3rd place now, I did not feel fear, only power, strength, and focus. With 30 seconds of running remaining, I began to wind up the pace, constantly checking over my right shoulder for the shorter runner, ready to unleash my sprint. Dunbar was still ahead by 25m, but I was only focused on one man. With 100 to go, I showed my hand, kicking into high gear. Hurtling past encouraging bellows, I felt myself separating from the great champion. It was then that I looked ahead, pursuing the bold leader. With 50m to go, I made the final pass, crossing the line to a deafening roar, victorious.
This comes after another victory in Eugene, clearly the momentum is building after the scare with your foot that kept you out of USA's. You were racing strong prior to that and clearly aiming for the win there; now back healthy, do you sort of feel like you're just getting started again and really fresh?
Absolutely. My injury, though minor, was purely a matter of bad timing. Moving forward, I feel a mental hunger- a desire to right this wrong. I know that I have the ability to beat any runner in the U.S., and I've attempted to prove that with every race I've run. Hopefully those who've appreciated my performances are starting to believe too.
You've put yourself out there and said you're gunning for that 3:50 mile, how has training been going and where do you hope to make that happen?
3:50 is my target. This spring and summer, I've been able to do faster workouts, with less effort, than ever before. I'm hoping to take a run at a sub-3:52 this weekend in Falmouth, MA. Stephen Haas has arranged a phenomenal field including American superstars Garrett Heath, Will Leer, and David Torrence. It was my hope that the pace is hot and we all show up with good legs the result being new PR's around the table.
Speaking of training, the last year Doug Benson has joined you and been a perfect training partner. Can you talk a little about how his presence has helped and how you two work together?
Doug is my best friend, dating back 12 years. Beginning in high school, we've shared thousands of miles, countless laughs, and a mutual respect for one another. He has always been a selfless supporter, even since of our days as humble 5:00 milers. He last out-kicked me whilst recording a PR of 4:53. I'll never fully forgive him for that fateful day. We like to joke that his kick that day served as the catalyst, lighting the fire for my athletic future. Currently, he lives in my wife and I's house and has been a key part of my fortunate success. Every day, he trains with me during a time of year that would normally witness me very much alone. He's also been kind enough to spike up and absolutely destroy himself whilst pacing me through my hard track sessions. In the end, we're both great friends who appreciate each other's company, friendship, and support.
The USA miler scene has continued to improve by leaps and bounds, in staying at the top of that field how has your training progressed over the last few years?
You're right. A 3:55 mile used to be a fair time as a professional. I'm happy to say that those days are long gone. My training hasn't changed much. Everyday, for the past four years, I've made smart decisions, consistently pushing myself to new horizons. If I make a mistake, I try to find a lesson to learn from. If I encounter success, I try to find key points that enabled such a circumstance.
Next up for you will be the Falmouth Road Race on Saturday for which you hold the meet record (3:54.89) after your 2011 win. How are you approaching that race, what do you think it's going to take to win, and are we going to see you lower that record?
Falmouth should be a great opportunity. As the meet record holder, I know the potential that this meet holds. Personally, if all lines up, I think it'll take a 3:51 to win. That's my goal and hopefully things line up to enable that to happen. Ultimately, I just want to test myself and make a positive memory for all involved.
This being a non-Olympic or World Championship year, what were your goals coming into 2014 and can you give us a timeline for what your goals are between now and Rio?
My goals for this year are to win races, and run 3:33.0/3:50.5 for the mile. Moving forward, the USA World and Olympic teams are all I care about. The ultimately dream of course, is an Olympic medal.
Finally, you're a storyteller, your blog posts so eloquently bring the magic of your races to the screen and you make us feel those same emotions in watching you race live. You've said that's part of your goal, in drawing us in and entertaining us you're motivating and inspiring every other runner. What's it like interacting with your fans, being a role model, and spreading that passion and drive into the next generation? What legacy, outside of fast times, do you want to leave?
I pour a ton of passion and energy into everything I do involving athletics. I take a lot of pride in that. I just want to serve as an inspiration to kids out there. I remember being 15, a 5:00 miler, and absolutely worshipping professional runners. It is that burning memory that motivates me to give so much back to those who follow me!
Thank you so much, Jordan, for your time. We look forward to cheering for you this weekend and watching you continue to bring that magic and excitement to the track! Follow Jordan on Twitter, his website, and Instagram.
Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004 and previously ran for Nike. A freelance writer, artist, and designer she writes about all things running and founded Ezzere, her own line of running shirts (www.ezzere.com). You can read more, see her running comics, and her shirts at her website.