Editors note: I thought I'd start off my interviewing myself, just to "get a feel" for it.
Zeke: What have you gotten yourself into here with this website?
Chad Austin: I don't know. I'll probably regret it in 3-4 months. But it sounds like fun. And I think the interview portion is something that's missing from the Minnesota running scene. We have lots of sites that provide race schedules and race results, but none that really get at who makes up our running scene.
Z: Are you hoping to get rich through the site?
CA: No, the thought hasn't crossed my mind. I understand that it'll be a labor of love. It's my way of giving back to the sport.
Z: I like the title of your interview section, "Stride-for-stride with..."
CA: Thanks, me too. I figure it's the only time I'll be able to keep up with these runners. Besides, it's better than "A brief chat." Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Z: How did you come up with this idea?
CA: There were basically a bunch of things that came together around the same time that lead to the idea; 1) another blogger was preparing for an interview of Brian Sell for eliterunning.com, 2) a reader from my blog mentioned that I should write a book, 3) I recently weaseled my way into Bruce Mortenson's Saturday morning training group. There is tons of history and stories in the group and one day I thought, "I wish I could run with a pen and paper when I'm with these guys."
Z: What are your expectations for the site?
CA: At first I was thinking I could do an interview every week, but I realize that's too aggressive. I'd like to be able to post a new interview every other week. In addition, I'll keep the articles as up-to-date as possible. While this may start out as "my" project, I think for it to be successful in the long-run, I'll need help from other people.
Z: What kind of help?
CA: It can be as simple as people sending me links to articles, ideas for who'd they'd like to be interviewed, questions to ask, background info on people I'm going to interview and maybe even contact information so I can get in touch with the interviewees. I'd even be open to the idea of other people conducting the interviews and posting them here as well.
Z: Any other expectations?
CA: Well Minnesota has a very strong running tradition. Some names that immediately come to mind include; Bjorklund, Daws, Kempainen, the Kleckers, Ettle, Beardsley, Edelen, Nenow, etc. Plus we have Team USA Minnesota in town, tons of College runners and a very strong group of up-and-coming high schoolers. Some day it'd be nice to interview some of those people, but the main goal is to get at people we see at every race, people that are winning our age groups and other age groupers. I think everyone has a story to tell, but they don't have a forum to get their story out there. Hopefully this will help them do that.
Z: What makes you qualified to interview people?
CA: Nothing. I have zero interviewing experience and other than blogging, I have zero writing skills. I'm no wordsmith as I have better "luck" with numbers than words. However, I'm passionate about the sport and I'm willing to use (some of) my "free" time to take on this project.
Z: What do you see as being the hardest part?
CA: Well I think there are some standard questions you can ask any runner. However, to be a good interview I think you have to have some background information, which will lead to better questions. For most people that you'd see interviewed, that background information is more readily available than it is for age groupers. So after the first 5 interviews with people I train with, things may get difficult.
Z: What about you? Tell us about yourself.
CA: Oh you want me to be the guinea pig. I started running in 1979 when I was 10 years old and have been at it, off-and-on, ever since. I ran through high school, took time off while in the navy and then ran at UW-Eau Claire from 1992-1996.
Z: What are your PRs?
CA: Most of them are from my college days; 5k 16:50, 10k 34:57, half marathon 1:20:21, marathon 2:58:10.
Z: Boy that marathon time really is out-of-line with the other times.
CA: I know, I know. I’m working on that.
Z: What’s your training philosophy?
CA: More is better, especially during your base-building phase. Challenge yourself to increase your mileage to levels you never thought possible. And once in awhile, find people that are faster than you and push yourself.
Z: What are your fondest running memories?
CA: There are lots. PR at Grandma’s in 2001 by 14 minutes and getting a BQ. Running my first Boston in 2002. Breaking 3 hours for the first (and so far only) time at Whistlestop, which is my home town course. I also have lots of great memories from just watching races. For example, I was nearly 12 years old when Beardsley set the course record at Grandma’s.
Z: What are you running goals for the next 12 months?
CA: I’m running Chicago in less than a month and I’d like to at least PR there. I think I can run sub-2:55 on a good day. As for next year, I’d like to try and meet some of the standards for Minnesota rankings within my age group. In order to do that I’d need to run 2:00:30 for 30k or 1:17 for 20k. There are other standards, but those are the “easiest.” This spring I missed the 20k standard by less than a minute.
Z: Do you have any long-term goals?
CA: At one time or another I’ve had sub-2:45 and sub-2:50 in my mind.
Z: Why those times?
CA: Well at one point, sub-2:50 was the open standard for getting into Boston. I figure if it was good enough in the 80s, it should be good enough now. Similarly, 2:45 was the standard to get into NYC. Plus it’s more in-line with my other PRs.
Z: Have a great race in Chicago. Thanks for your time.
CA: Thanks. Any time.