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“For the longest time, I thought sub-2:08 was 4:50/mile pace just because that’s what coach Eyestone said one day but he mistyped it in his text message. It’s 4:53 pace, which actually makes me feel a lot more confident in sub-2:08 because this whole time I’ve been thinking sub-4:50 per mile not even thinking that I should check his math out on my own. I think sub-2:08 is reasonable. I know my strengths are and I know where I’m good.”
Two-time NCAA cross country champion Conner Mantz is getting ready to make his marathon debut this weekend at the Chicago Marathon. In the past 12 months, he earned national titles in the half marathon and 20K. He’s got a 1 :00:55 second personal best for the half marathon, which puts him at No. 9 on the all-time U.S. list so there’s plenty of excitement over his potential in the marathon. We talked all about that, his expectations for the race, how much he wants to focus on track or cross country in the future and much more. Plus, we get some NCAA cross country predictions from him.
– “I definitely think I’ll be running on the track, running cross country and probably running another marathon come next year. That’s the plan as of right now…Coach Eyestone, when he was professional, would be able to do World Cross, the World Championships in the 10,000m and then maybe he’d run a marathon in the same year. Why limit yourself to one event only? That’s how I see it in my mind. Why would I limit myself to being only a track guy when the marathon might be my best event right now?”
– “Why Chicago? Coach Eyestone crushed it there. It’s a fast one. It’s in the U.S. and I’ve heard good things about that. Plus, it’s a major. It’s just those simple reasons.”
– “World Cross is something I’ve wanted to do…Every year that it was supposed to happen since 2019, I’ve been wanting to do it. In 2019, I was asking coach Eyestone, ‘Can I also do U.S. Cross?’ And he said, ‘No, not this year.’ Then it just kept getting put off. World Cross is definitely a thing I want to do. That gets me excited. I feel like I did well in the NCAA and I did well against the American talent and some of the foreign talent that was here but I want to see how good I am across the world and competing against the best of the best. I’m better at cross country than I am on the track. Plus, I have more fun with cross country. It’s on the schedule. I would also be excited to run the Houston Half but those are within a week between U.S. cross and Houston. So I don’t think that’s happening. World Cross? I’m excited for that. That’s the next big thing after the marathon.”
– “After the U.S. Championships in the 5000m, I was like, ‘What am I doing? I’m in amazing 5K shape. What if I break 13:00?’ Maybe I could or maybe I couldn’t but I wanted to give it a shot. But there weren’t any fast 5Ks coming up until post-World Championships. Coach said it was either Chicago or this 5K. He’s like, ‘You know what you want.’ I want the marathon….That was probably the best 5K I’ve ever run but there was probably a few things I could improve on. I just wanted to jump in another 5K.”
– “We did an eight-mile projected marathon pace workout – it’s always faster than your marathon pace is but it’s kinda goal marathon pace minus a few seconds. I did that after the 8K USATF Championships. I think I ran 4:47 pace and just felt smooth. It felt like I was barely trying. Then I had another workout not long after that where I was running 4:34 for a tempo. It was six miles and I was just all on my own. Coach Eyestone was there with a stopwatch and I just felt good. As the workouts kept coming, I just got more and more excited.”
– “If you would’ve asked me last week, I would’ve said I want to go for it and go for the sub-2:07 and see what happens. Now, I’m feeling like my mouth is getting a little too fast. I feel like sub 2:08 is really the goal. I would love to go out in 63:30 and see what happens but I know the marathon is a whole different beast in those last six miles. I feel good about sub-2:08 in being a part of the goal and plan. I think coach Eyestone does too.”
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