It doesn’t take too much to put a small town on the map. “Birthplace of Paul Bunyan,” or “home to the world’s biggest corncob festival” or even “where buffalo wings were born.” You know it’s a big deal when these things have been slapped to the front of the welcome signs as you reach the town’s city limits. It lets the passersby know that within the small, drive-by town is something great, something worth remembering.
So when I found out that Sarah Pease was from Elizabeth, Indiana (population: 162), I figured they were in the process of erecting some enormous fiberglass statue in her honor. Within their city limits is a three-time All-American while at Indiana University (probably reason enough to at least put a “home to Sarah Pease” sign up); someone who has run in every track and field U.S. Championships since 2010, four times made the final, and finished 4th in 2010; she’s a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier; she’s run in a Diamond League meet. In terms of running accolades, Pease has a fairly impressive resume.
Pease is enjoying the kind of success and longevity that eludes plenty of runners post-collegiately, and is still working day in and day out. She’s running 100+ mile weeks in preparation for the California International Marathon, and is a volunteer assistant at IU while pursuing a master’s degree in kinesiology.
She’s already got an Olympic Trials marathon qualifier under her belt, a 2:41 which she ran in her one and only marathon. On December 3rd, she is hoping to lower her PR in Sacramento, and rub elbows with some stiffer competition (she won her debut marathon by 16 minutes).
We sat down with Pease and discussed how her training is going, and what she’s hoping to accomplish in Sacramento this weekend.
CITIUS MAG: How has the training been going overall?
SARAH PEASE: I’ve been running 100-120 miles per week for the whole training block. So the mileage is a lot more, but I also do longer repeats and longer thresholds and tempos than I do when I’m training for track.
But I still keep some of the quicker stuff in the training. That’s how my coach likes to do it. It kind of keeps you sharp — it’s fun, you feel like you’re in this huge long distance training block and then it’s nice to do a little bit of turnover and feel like you’re fast again.
CM: What sparked your interest in the marathon?
SP: I always really liked doing longer distances and longer workouts and rhythmic things. So I kind of always thought the marathon had potential to be my best event. I wanted to at least try it and try it a few times because probably the first time you’re not going to get it totally right.
And being a running fan, I watched Boston and New York and the Marathon Trials and I wanted to see how good I could be at the distance.
CM: You ran 2:41 in your first marathon in February. What did you learn from that first marathon that you’re going to take into this one?
SP: I’m excited for CIM because it’ll be good to be in a competitive marathon. There were so many things I didn’t know what to expect during my first one. Definitely being more conservative at the start. Being someone who runs track, you don’t have to be very patient. Even with the 10,000 meters it’s not that much time compared to the marathon. I learned that you have to be patient for a really long time. I felt so good at the beginning of the marathon and kind of didn’t do a good job reeling that in.
The fueling was different. I’ve never fueled before up until I did the marathon, so I’m getting used to that. I didn’t even have water bottles at my first marathon, so I’m excited for that as opposed to trying to drink out of cups.
There are just a lot of elements. But I would say that being a little more patient will help me a lot.
CM: Have you taken any cues from steeplers that have made the transition to the marathon?
SP: A lot of times people train very differently, so I don’t want to feel like I should train like this person or that person. But I’ve read a lot about the mentality, about the nutrition, a lot of things outside of the actual training part. I’ve tried to learn as much as I can in as short of a time as I can. I feel the marathon is something that takes a while to really master. And it takes a while because you can only do it a few times a year. In track, I’m used to having a bad race and turn around and do it again and fix those things, but this is a little different.
So I’ve read a lot about the marathon mentality. I just try to listen to my coach and put blinders on to what’s happening on the outside in terms of the training. For me it’s really easy to trust him and get the work done and feel good about it. He knows what will work best.
CM: Do you find the marathon stuff carries over to the faster stuff?
SP: Yeah, I think for me I get really strong. It’s like a really great base phase. I get to have this long build up of consistent training and mileage. It helped me a lot through the spring and summer this year. I did a marathon in February and had to take some time off after that. When I finally did get back to running I was still really fit from all the miles I did.
CM: What’s your goal going into CIM?
SP: As far as a time goal I think running around 2:35 would be a really good step. We thought I was around that fitness last time but for one reason or another it didn’t happen. But I think I’m handling the training a lot better this time.
As far as finishing, my goal is definitely to be top ten. But then ultimately I want to position myself to race late and try to see how many people I can beat.
If I can be top ten and run pretty fast then I would be pretty happy with that.
CM: I know you’ve run one full marathon before. Is this the start of a full transition to the roads? Or to the marathon in general looking toward 2020?
SP: I’m kind of still thinking about it. I think it’ll kind of depend on how the next marathon and probably the one after that goes because I still am going to run track in the spring. I want to run the 5k and the 10k and drop some PR’s on the track.
But I’ve been doing more and more road racing. I don’t know yet if it’ll be a full switch but I like the training for the marathon a lot. So if I see some success in the marathon, and get my time to a place that’s competitive in the U.S. then I might shift my focus more to that. But I also love the 10k, so I may shift my focus there.