Interview: John Levison talks to Andrew Lemoncello about his short and long term goals over the 26.2 mile distance
The recent Great South Run (report HERE) in Portsmouth saw US-based Scot Andrew Lemoncello put behind him the disappointment of not being able to compete for a place in the 2012 Olympic Games Marathon due to injury, by producing a personal best time over the 10-mile course (47:08). In taking fifth place and the scalp of World Marathon Champion Abel Kirui in the process, he takes the confidence from that performance to Fukuoka, Japan next month when racing in one of the iconic events of Elite Marathon for his next outing over 26.2 miles.
We spoke to Andrew shortly after his race in Portsmouth where he had been checking out the course for the Reading Half Marathon, 17th March 2013, which will play a major role in his preparation for the 2013 London Marathon. He had Olympic Gold medal winning rower (and new runner...) Zac Purchase with him, and was no doubt passing on some running tips.
Photos: Andrew Lemoncello and Zac Purchase
So, can you feel fresh the morning after running a 47 minute 10-mile race? "Not really 'fresh'! I have to say I feel a little bit sore, but I'm really happy with how yesterday went, my body is in one piece so that's always a good thing."
Like all runners, even elites like to secure a personal best time, even though that gets tougher the faster you get, but - even more impressive after long-term injury - Andrew managed to do just that in Portsmouth.
"...it was surprising because we slowed down so much over the last few miles into that wind, but it was still a 30 second PB. I was hoping to run a little bit quicker, but it was great just being able to compete with those guys and taking the scalp of a World Champion is always fun."
What about the running of eventual winner Stephen Mokoka; the South African appeared to be running in a very erratic style, increasing the pace, then dropping back, talking to other athletes / gesturing etc - was that a distraction?
"To be honest I was kind of ignoring him because you want to keep it as steady as possible whilst covering the moves. I could tell quite quickly that he was going to be the aggressor in the race so I just wanted to stay focussed on staying close to the group and working off of them. It was pretty windy so I was tucking in behind to keep some energy for the end of the race." With that finish time and result, that tactic appeared to work well for Andrew.
Andrew made a solid marathon debut at London 2010, finishing with a 2:13:40 clocking (8th place) in the capital. That is still his PB time - are marathons still the aim?
"Yeah, I'm going to keep on going with marathons - I've still not run a good one... so that's kind of the appeal with them; I haven't conquered it and I'm not sure you ever can, but I'm going to keep going because even with the marathon training I do it helps all of the other distances too. I've got a marathon in five weeks, and then into the new year when I'll start focussing on and preparing for the London Marathon. I'm due to run the California International Marathon (Sacremento) on 2nd December but I may now go to Fukuoka (Japan) because apparently they have a pace group going through halfway in 65 minutes, plus there will be better competition there so I will have plenty of guys to run with, so, to try and run a fast time there." [Andrew has confirmed since this interview that he is indeed heading to Japan, where Haile Gebrselassie will also be running].
After London, Andrew had a recce of the Reading Half Marathon with his sponsor Mizuno. What did he make of it?
"The timing (of Reading Half Marathon - 17th March 2013) is perfect before London, so it will be good to come here and put a really good, fast effort in before getting back into the last training before London. It seems like its a pretty fast course, well set out so if I can come and run fast [Andrew has a half marathon PB of 63 minutes], it will be good for confidence ahead of London."
What about injury? All runners get injured, but when it is your career, your job, hobby and more, how tough is that to deal with?
"Initially it was tough. I got my injury in my last marathon back in December (2011, Fukuoka, Japan), and that was hard, because I thought ok, I can recover quickly and then get ready for the Olympic Trials (London Marathon 2012) and hopefully go to The Games... the hardest part was actually when I knew I wouldn't be able to do the trials, and those few days were tough for me. But, I like to think things happen for a reason, to stay positive... and to be honest I really don't mind cross-training at all, I quite enjoy it, so I'm one of the lucky ones who can keep fit on the bike or the elliptical machine ...I actually had a lot of fun pushing my body hard in those workouts.
"I started back running when the Olympics were on, so had that to spur me on and keep me motivated... plus knowing that the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (2014) are just around the corner, that kind of sticks in your head and keeps the motivation high."
Looking forward to 2013, with the London Marathon already on the schedule, is running at the World Championships then the aim, or will it be another big city marathon later in the year?
"World Champs for sure, I really want to go to Moscow and compete well there - it will be a great opportunity to do another championship, mix in with the best in the world and hopefully keep my confidence high for the Commonwealth Games the next year. That is a massive goal; as soon as we knew Glasgow was going to get the Commonwealth's it's been a big focus - the support I get there when racing is phenomenal, and so I can't wait to race in a Championship there."
Are you still living in the US - tell us a little about your set up there?
"Sure, I live in Flagstaff, Arizona up at 7000 feet altitude. I've got a house there with my wife, so we are settled in the US.. The local running scene is great there because on any weekend I could find a race that will fit into my schedule, you can always find a really high quality race somewhere.
"There are professional runners from all over the world coming into and out of Flagstaff through the year and so you find yourself out there running hard against the very best in the world - it's a great place to be as a distance runner."
Training approach seems to come an go - most mileage, quality over quantity - depending on the flavour of the month, but, what is the actual reality for you...what does it take to be in 47 minute 10-mile shape?
"For me it's around 140 miles right now when getting ready for a marathon. Two weeks ago was 140 miles, this week because I raced it was lower (120 miles) but now I've got another three hard weeks ahead and they will be 140/150 miles, followed by a two week taper into the marathon. It's pleasing to still have something left in my legs to run a swift 10-miles after those miles. I usually keep the mileage as normal for those races and then for the two days before only run once, which is where the mileage drops down."
What about non-running training? Do you have time for much cross-training / core / weights etc, or is it mostly 'just' running?
"It's predominantly running, but certainly when I was injured I was weight training six days/week to get the strength back, but now I'm back to full mileage that's just two/three times per week and a lot lighter schedule - the energy requirements of 140/150 miles/week is tough, so you have to reduce it. I do a lot of stretching, foam roller, massages etc to help me recover, to make sure I can run well day in and day out. "
I'm guessing one benefit of the energy requirements of 140+ miles per week must be that you don't have to worry too much about taking in too many calories?!
"Yes, definitely! That's a great thing as food and cooking is one of my hobbies, so I like to experiment with different recipes and experiment with restaurants - so all that running really helps with that!"
Japanese sportswear brand Mizuno, are title sponsors of the Mizuno Reading Half Marathon, taking place on Sunday, 17th March 2013.
For your chance to enter this leading event, please visit www.readinghalfmarathon.co.uk and for further Mizuno product information www.mizuno.co.uk.