Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"I just started sprinting my ass off with 250m to go ... "

We tracked down Minnetonka alum Will Leer, now of Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, to get his take on last weekend's NCAA Division III Indoor Championships. Leer won the Mile in a meet record 4:08.19 and later finished 3rd in the 5000 meters in 14:34.24 ...

DtB: How did the mile set up and what did you have to do to win?

Leer: Coming into the mile finals I knew that I was going to have to pull out a good kick or Brian Butzler [UW - Whitewater, eventual runner-up] was going to take the title. The pace initially went out pretty well for the first 300m or so and then slowed drastically. I think we came through the first 809m roundabout 2:10. At that point I knew I was really going to need to kick hard because no one was tired.

So I basically just sat there and waited to make my move. My coach, Pat Mulcahy, and I had talked about some race strategies the previous evening and we both decided that it would probably be best to make my move with 250m to go but when I did, I would need to make it hard and decisive. And that was the plan I stuck to.

I just started sprinting my ass off with 250m to go, hoping I could maintain my speed and form over the final 50m. Overall the race felt pretty solid. I mean, I was out there to defend my title so I put a bit of pressure on myself to do well and luckily it all worked out in the end.

DtB: How did you feel coming back in the 5000?

Leer: The 5000 was essentially an afterthought of the mile. I came into the meet focused on the mile with a "whatever happens, happens" attitude about the 5000. After the mile I tried to stay as active as possible before the awards so I didn't get too tight and then I pounded calories and got in a short cooldown. By the time warming up for the second race came around I was feeling pretty good.

I definitely felt as though I had already raced hard once that day but I tried to stay focused on the task at hand, which was just racing the race and not worrying about anything else. I had no idea what to expect. This was my second 5000 ever, first on a 200m track, and I had not doubled back in hard races at all this year. I was very fortunate that my first mile was a 4:48, that allowed me to feel comfortable through two miles and then start thinking about moving up.

DtB: When did you know it wouldn't be a double victory?

Leer: I guess I realized that it wouldn't be a double victory with about 400m remaining. I had slight inclinations about it when Fred Joslyn [SUNY - Cortland, eventual winner] made his move and separated himself from the pack, but I didn't know if the pack I was with would catch back up to him or not. As a result I ended up sticking around in the chase pack for too long before going into my final kick. I was just focused on staying out of trouble and not getting tripped up and falling which is why I was just chilling in the back of the race for over two miles.

All-in-all I am pleased with the way the meet went. I hoped I would win the mile and thought I could possibly place top-3 in the 5000 and I accomplished both of those things. Now it is just onto outdoors, can't wait to race those guys again in Oshkosh!

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