Team USA Minnesota's Matt Gabrielson hopes to parlay a successful track and field season into success at the USA Men's Marathon Championships held in conjunction with Sunday's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. The Edina High School assistant coach -- one of five Team USA Minnesota men race TCM -- finished 8th in the Olympic Trials 5000 meters, notched a 3:41.80 1500 meter PR, and ran a near-PR 13:30.95 5000m this summer.
We heard Gabrielson's"remodel" into a marathoner was going well, so we track him down to hear the story from him ...
DtB: How has your transition from Olympic Trials 5000 meter man to USA Championship marathoner gone?
Gabrielson: Good question. I guess the best way to answer that is by saying I have ridden the wave of momentum that began in early June and have kept it going through this past 9 or 10 weeks. I am so motivated to run EVERY day and have never loved the sport more than I do at the moment. I have had some of the best workouts of my life in the past month or so, but more importantly I feel like I have recovered from day in day out training so much better compared to any other time that I can remember.
I think it would be a tougher transition going from marathon specific work to 5K, but 5K to marathon is somewhat easier because you have all that speed in your muscles. It makes the marathon pace seem easier. It has just been a matter of being able to keep that marathon pace up over a long period of time which is a tricky thing. I feel very prepared for this though.
DtB: What's the biggest difference training-wise for you? Do you prefer training for one event over the other?
Gabrielson: I just feel really fresh on every workout compared to before NYC in 2006. I believe I may have crossed that fine line between being fresh and being worn down back then. I felt pretty flat two weeks before NYC.
This time around I have really tried to take each day as its own and run with intent each time I step out the door. I have really focused on the workouts and getting the most out of those as possible. Additionally, I really have listened to my body on the runs between workouts. Some days 7:30 per mile feels the same as 6 min. Regardless of the pace, I have felt very strong on a huge percentage of the runs. Once in awhile it's been pretty crappy starting out, but almost always gets better by the end.
As far as specific workouts go, a lot of it has been the same except I have run 28 miles twice - good, solid, fairly quick runs on the TCM course.
I really enjoy both events equally. I think the stimulus you get from both types of specific training allows you to be a better all around runner and keeps you fresher. The marathon helps the 5K and vice versa.
I have run 3:41 for 1500m which equates to a sub 4 minute mile and hopefully by the end of the day on October 5th my marathon PR will be outstanding enough to be one of the fastest mile-marathon Americans of all time. I wonder what a list of the best would look like?
DtB: You ran a 2:19 debut marathon in New York in 2006. What did you learn from that experience that you expect to put to use at Twin Cities?
Gabrielson: A lot! I really felt the destruction of my quads at mile 18 in NYC. We have done a lot of training to really condition those and allow them to withstand the pounding all the way through. I also feel that fluid intake went pretty smooth in NYC and pretty much nailed that aspect of the racing which will definitely come in handy on marathon day.
Really, I just learned a lot about my coach and myself mentally as well as physically preparing for and racing New York. I really cannot wait to test my limits on my home course.
DtB: A successful day for you at Twin Cities would be what?
Gabrielson: Like I tell the kids at Edina, the goal is to get as much as you can out of yourself on that very day. The stars will not align perfectly very often if ever, and you have to be prepared for a number of different scenarios. This is especially so in the marathon. If I lay everything on the line that day I will be satisfied.
The field for this race is outstanding - Dan Browne, [Fernando] Cabada, [Mike] Morgan, Justin Young, Lundo [Chris Lundstrom], Matt Downin, Fasil [Bizuneh], Ed Torres, among others - all veterans that could win the thing. There are also first-timers like Moen that could steal it.
I have run one marathon and my 2:19 puts me a ways down on the list, but I really believe in my ability as a runner and trust the training I have done enough to say that I deserve to be mentioned as a favorite to win. I will say that I will be as competitive as is humanly possible on that day. It will be a blood bath out there on that course and I can't wait to roll up the sleeves and get after it.
Photo of Gabrielson by Victor Sailer, courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.