Monday, February 22, 2010


It’s still only February, but Team USA Minnesota’s Antonio Vega is off to a fast start this year. On January 17th, the Tartan High school and University of Minnesota alum, won his first U.S. title at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston. The 26-year-old PR’d by just over a minute to finish in 1:01:54, holding off teammate Patrick Smyth by 7 seconds. Now his has his sights set on the Boston Marathon, where he believes he can run 2:12.

First off, congratulations on your win at Houston. I was trying to think if that makes you the first National Champion for Team USA Minnesota on the men’s side?
Thank you. I am the second national champion from the men’s side. Andrew Carlson won the U.S. 15k championship when he was still a member of the team.

You PR’d at 3000m leading up to Houston. Did that indicate that you were in sub-1:02 shape heading into the race?
The time I ran in the 3000m was indicative that I was fit, which is always reassuring when you are training either on snow and ice or on a treadmill in Minnesota and can’t be certain where your fitness level is. I guess I never attempted to translate that result into an outcome at Houston; nevertheless, I was confident I was in PR shape.

Training though the Minnesota winters can be very difficult. However, Team USA Minnesota has a strong tradition of performing well at Houston, as well as other early season races. What would you attribute that to?
Our coach, Dennis Barker, does a great job of continuously testing all our systems. We never are just in an aerobic or speed phase and so coupled with a large base and the strength gained from some longer fall races (marathons) we usually come away pretty fit.

Vega, Lehmkuhle, Moen, Smyth, Gabrielson... that’s a very strong group of runners. Sounds like the makings of a cross-country team. Will any of you guys be running X-C Nationals?
There will be three of us competing at U.S. cross this year. Matt, Patrick and myself—we should have another strong showing. [Editor’s note: Antonio finished 8th, while Patrick was 2nd and Matt was 10th.]

You are currently training for the Boston Marathon. Do you have any tune up races planned before that?
Races leading up to Boston are U.S. Cross Country, the Gate River Run in Jacksonville in March, and then possibly a 10k the first weekend in April.

You ran TCM each of the last two years. What did you learn from those experiences that you’ll take with you to Boston?
You are never in the clear until you cross the finish line. Blowing up is not out of the question until then.

What are your goals for Boston, the rest of 2010, and any long-term goals?
I believe I can run 2:12 or better at Boston. Right now that is my sole focus.

Do you have favorite distance?
I really enjoy racing the half marathon. It is long enough to lock into a good pace and relax. I also have had the most success at this distance.

What are your PRs?

3k - 8:06
5k - 14:10
10k - 29:00
15k - 44:45
Half - 1:01.54
25k - 1:16.35
Marathon - 2:15

What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
I am still trying to figure that out.

You’ve been a lifelong resident of the Twin Cities, attending Tartan high school and the U of M. Who have been some of the key influences in your life?
All my coaches that I have had over the last 8 years have been big influences on my life and training.

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started running?
That being consistent is the key to success when it comes to running.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I love it!! Thanks Chad:) Antonio Vega is a very talented athlete, I enjoyed reading your interview!!