Jeremy Essler made is marathon debut less than a month ago at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. There the 28-year-old Mankato resident ran fairly even splits (1:14:56 and 1:17:45) to finish 7th overall in 2:32:41 and in the process nabbed $300. Last year Jeremy married Desireé Budd and they joined the ranks vying for fastest running couple in Minnesota. After recovering from the marathon, Jeremy has his sites on improving upon his 54:42 from last year's TC-10 miler.
Congrats on your 2:32 at Green Bay. As your first marathon, what were your goals heading into the race?
Thank you. My first goal - to finish! Secondly, I just wanted to feel good, if there is such a thing, at mile 20. I did not want to be reduced to jogging and thinking the last 6.2 miles why I decided to do this and never want to run another marathon again. The ultimate goal though was to run under 2:30, regardless of place. I would be lying though if said I was not thinking about finishing in the top 10 and the riches it would bring. Hey, I won enough to pay for our gas there and back!
Were you pleased with how the race played out?
I was fairly pleased with the way it played out. Green Bay is not a big marathon, which was one of the reasons I decided to run it, so unfortunately I ran most of the way by myself. This was fine for the most part because I wanted to run my race. I wanted to be at 1:15 at the half and go from there. At Green Bay you run the first 12 with the half marathoners so I had to exercise great self-control to not go out hard with them. After 12, I was completely on my own, minus two guys I passed, until 22. From 22 on, I ran with a guy from Ethiopia whom I left in the dust of Lambeau Field with my blazing 800 meter speed.
Overall my legs felt pretty good. I have a hip problem that causes the sciatic nerve to flare up. That was only a minor problem. I did have stomach issues pretty much the whole second half of the race though. I think I had too much sugar in the morning with a Powerbar and a bottle of Powerade. That combined with nerves did not make it pretty. I never really hit the wall, but we had a 15-20 mph head wind from roughly 16-22 where I got off pace. I do say though that my quads were quite sore by 22, especially after the downhill over the bridge.
Can you briefly describe your training leading up to the race; did you follow a certain program, how many MPW, key workouts, etc.?
My training started in the middle of February. It was a horrible winter and spring weather wise so it was not a lot of fun for the most part. I was doing three hour runs in February at 7:30/mile pace when temps were in the teens and the wind was blowing across the southern Minnesota plains at 40 mph. I hate treadmills but I did do a couple runs on one when we would get a couple inches of ice. Otherwise I would just not run.
As far as programs go, I did not follow any certain one. I researched a little on what elite runners were doing (Team Minnesota, Nike project, and Hanson’s) and Joey Keillor helped me out quite a bit. Training consisted of a lot of threshold workouts and tempo runs. After a few weeks of those easy long runs in February my long runs consisted of easy 1 to 1 ½ hours of running with another 45-70 min at marathon pace. I ran the Earth Day Half Marathon as a workout, 6-7 mile warmup, and 13.1 at marathon pace (5:40/mile or so). That felt pretty easy so I knew I was ready. After that I kept my weekly mileage at 80 or so with more quality workouts like mile repeats and 2k’s. Before Earth Day I had worked my way up to around 100 MPW. My longest run was around 24 miles in 2 ½ hours.
They say not to try any new foods prior to the race. Did you follow this advice? What was your pre-race meal for Sunday's race?
On Friday night I had spaghetti, so the normal. But I usually get a little heartburn from spaghetti sauce so on Saturday night myself, my wife Desireé, Kristen Painter, Ed Whetham, and Jenna Boren met Jenna’s dad at his wife’s Sushi Bar for supper. While I have had sushi a couple times it was not your normal meal. For my meal I had grilled teriyaki salmon and buckwheat noodles. The morning of, I had a bagel, yogurt, Powerbar and Powerade. Maybe a little too much but I was hungry only a couple hours later.
Now that you have one marathon under your belt, what’s next for 2008? What about long-term goals?
I just want to get my legs under me again. Hopefully get my hip figured out and my quads back to normal- they have been bothering me since before the TC 10 mile and still sore with plenty of knots. I will hopefully run the fall circuit races since I missed most in the spring. And the cross circuit too since I missed that last fall with my hurt quads. Hopefully the TC 10 miler again. Long term I am looking forward to maybe a track season next spring. I am not much of a PR guy but I still need to break 4:00 in the 1500 and 15:00 in the 5k, maybe a fall marathon in ‘09 if I ever recover from this one.
You live in North Mankato. What’s the running scene like? Do you have many people to train with?
I actually live in Mankato now. The running scene is pretty good, although a majority of my runs were by myself. I run quite a bit with my wife. I try to run with the MSU guys when I can but that is not too often. I used to run quite a bit with my old roomie, Jon Ortloff, and more recently have gotten a few runs in with Toby Henkels.
Looking through the State Meet x-c results, it looks like you ran for a very strong Alexandria team. How did you get involved with the sport?
We had some pretty good teams back in the day. Mark Nelsen was an excellent cross country and distance coach. I got into running mostly through family. My aunt Laurie ran in the Trials a couple times, my dad and uncles ran track. My neighbor who was a year older ran cross country so he got me going before 7th grade. And of course I was too small to do anything else!
What is your fondest running memory?
Running with my wife the morning of our wedding.
What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
My strength would be my speed being a half miler and miler when running the longer distances. Weaknesses? Too many, but the usual-stupidity in training-doing way too much. At least I got it right for the most part for the marathon.
What are your PRs?
Like I said, I am not much of a PR guy. I have set round goals like 15:00 for the 5k, and if I don’t break it I don’t really dwell on my time. But here are some rough estimates:
800: 1:57.12(unfortunately only in high school)
Half Marathon: 1:11:23 enroute to 25k
If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
I love running with all the old Runner's Edge guys and hearing all their war stories. Most of them are about 5 years older than me so I missed running with them in college. They have some good stories that is for sure. It is a treat running with anyone, anytime outside of my few training partners in Mankato.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
My own knowledge of basic training techniques because I always just took the coaches word for training, especially in college. I just over-trained too much. I needed to listen to my body more often. In high school I did not take cross country as serious as track because all I wanted to do was the 800. I did not realize that I should have been running a few more miles. I had an excellent coach but I was stubborn and did not want to run more miles. But even now I tend to overdo it so what do I really know? Not much. So there’s not much I wished I’d known.