Monday, October 14, 2013

Tegenkamp 10th with 2:12 Debut in Chicago

It was a tough final four miles, but then, that’s what makes the marathon the marathon.

In Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Matt Tegenkamp clocked 2:12:39 in his first ever test of the 26.2-mile distance, good enough for tenth place, second position among Americans, and a spot just outside the Top 20 fastest first marathon in US history.

With a commendable time and the positive takeaway that he battled the whole way, it may be easy to glance past the fact that the American record holder at two miles came pretty close to hitting a home run his first time out: through 22 miles, Tegenkamp was on 2:10 pace. In the seven miles from #13 to #20, he felt better than he had at any other point in the race. After a conservative first 20k, Tegenkamp and his pacing team increased their speed very slightly, and he found a nice groove. “The cadence just felt more comfortable,” he reported after the race.

Alas, that home run was not to be. Only four Americans have ever run under 2:11 in their first crack at the marathon, and over the final eight kilometers, Tegenkamp met that challenge that makes a sub-2:11 so tough: fatigue. Though he felt his fitness was there, his legs were compromised and he slipped from 4:55-per-mile pace to 5:20-miles, and finally 5:45 pace over the final 2.2 kilometers. Nevertheless, he cracked the Top 10 in his first ever World Marathon Major, and outraced five athletes in the pack of eight who came through the halfway point with him on 2:10 pace.

Most importantly, though, Tegenkamp came away ready to continue working on this new competitive challenge, having had a positive experience. As he put it, quite simply, “I battled.”

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