I’d argue that Denny Jordan put together one of the most impressive seasons around in 2011. Not only did he claim the 60-64 year old Runner of the Year title, his first, but he did it while spending half of the year at 59. His most impressive performance came at Grandma’s Marathon. After running half a dozen or so 3:09 marathons in the last 2 years, the Roseville resident took advantage of the ideal conditions and came home in 2:57. That puts him in a unique group of athletes that have been able to run a marathon in less than 2 hours plus their age, in minutes. That’s a feat that seems to be more and more difficult with age. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Kryduba)
Congratulations on a great season! You’ve been consistently finishing second or third in your age group in the Runner of the Year rankings, but this is your first title. Was earning the title one of your goals for the year?
It was not one of my goals. I hadn’t thought about it until turning 60 when I received a phone call from another Runner of the Year and asked me if I thought I should try for the Runner of the Year. I told him that I hadn’t considered it, but that sparked my interest to look into it.
Your win is even more impressive given that you didn’t turn 60 until half the season was over. Were you concerned that you wouldn’t been able to earn enough points with such a short season?
Yes, after reviewing the races at that point I didn’t think I was capable of hitting all the races I needed to run with half the year already gone and needing to compile as many points as possible.
Just the other day I was running with a soon-to-be-60-year-old and, like a lot of runners, he was looking forward to a new age. He talked about training a little harder in the up coming year and putting together a solid racing season. Did you find yourself looking forward to the season more with a new age group on the horizon?
No. My goal always has been since turning 50 to every year to try to run as close as possible to my last year’s times. If I accomplish that I feel like I am racing well and had a good year.
One of the standards these “old guys” I run with often talk about for the marathon is 2 hours plus your age, in minutes. For example, a 40 year old would have to run sub-2:40. It’s one of those standards that gets harder and harder as we get older – the number of 30 and 40 year olds meeting this standard is a lot higher than the number of 50 and 60 year olds. Had you ever heard of this standard before to your 2:57 at Grandma’s when you were 59?
Yes, I have heard of it but never really used it as a prediction tool for myself. I predict my times by previous races and if I feel like I am in good race shape.
Prior to that race, you had run 7 marathons in the previous 15 months and 5 of those were in 3:09. Were you frustrated with consistently running the same time?
No, I wasn’t frustrated. I go into every marathon with the same plan and that is to run a rock solid run. That means - finish the last 6 miles the same as the first 6 miles. I did get called Mr. Consistency from a fellow runner.
What type of changes did you make to your training and racing schedules in order to have such a great breakthrough after being on a plateau for so long?
What you call a plateau, I call consistent performances. However, I did modified some of my training and diet. I focused more on adding quality runs and then making sure to relax on my easy days. It wasn't my usual grind-it-out-every-day routine.
The first marathon results I could find for you are from 2003. Is that when you started running? How did you first get involved with running?
I started running at age 29. So I have been running for over 30 years. I was playing on a mens’ soccer league and when the team went for team runs I found out that I liked running.
After 2003, it looks like you have averaged about 6 marathons a years. Are you trying to join the 50 States group?
No. I just enjoy traveling and going to try a new marathon course and visit a new city.
In general, what is your training philosophy; (miles per week, favorite workouts, etc.)?
My philosophy is to enjoy the run and have fun. I do about 50 miles per week and love to run along the river for long runs. In 30 years I have run just about the whole Twin City area.
Have you thought about 2012 yet? If so, what are your goals and how do you top this year?
I’m not sure I can top 2011. Right now on the schedule I have a few marathons picked out, a few of the local races, but I’d like to try some new races, too. I’d like to stay healthy and stay running.
What do you consider your strengths?
Most races over 10K. I seem to be able to pace myself better for any long distance run.
Don’t perform as well on short races. I need to work on that if I want to improve in that area.
What are your PRs?
To tell the truth I really don’t keep close track of them, but I do know my marathon is 2:48 from 1986 - back when you needed to run sub-2:50 to qualify for Boston.
What is your fondest running memory?
The first time I ran Grandma’s Marathon. It kind of set the 31 years in motion. I still love to run the North Shore.
If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
I can't think of anyone in particular, but I'm so thankful that I got into running and have been a part of the Minnesota running community for as long as I have. Along the way, I've met so many nice people, many of which I call friends and for that I'm thankful
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
How to train better. When I first started running I would run like 75 to 80 miles a week right up to the marathon and then wonder why I didn’t run a good marathon. I did that for several years on many different races. Too much crazy running back then. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten smarter at my running.