Gordon Alexander is a local masters runner who recently won the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge half marathon track with a cumulative time of 6:02:44. Alexander is also one of AFM’s open invitational participants in the upcoming 2012 AFM FITTEST presented by Nexersys. He recently fielded questions from AFM on running, training, and taking on the FITTEST.
Q: How long have you been running? Tell a little bit about your history (how you got started, whether you ran for any schools, etc.).
A: I ran cross-country and track in high school, but hated track so much that I quit the team in my senior year and swore I would never run again. In 2006, I joined a group that was training for the Texas Round-up 10k, where my training consisted of jogging three miles every other week. With that minimal training, I was able to finish the 10k in 46 minutes, so I thought I might be a good runner if I trained more seriously. Later that year, I started training with a couple of more advanced training groups.
Q: Have you ever done the Distance Challenge before or was this your first time? (If you’ve done it before, tell us a bit about when and how many times. If not, what made you decide to do it this year?)
A: I have run the Distance Challenge half track the past three years and was the overall winner the first two times.
Q: Your times from the races were 37:41 (IBM Uptown Classic 10K), 1:06:38 (Run for the Water 10-miler), 1:27:27 (Decker Challenge Half Marathon), 1:25:29 (3M Half Marathon), and 1:25:29 (LiveStrong Austin Half Marathon). Are these representative times? What are your PRs? I can’t help but notice how consistent your half times are, despite the variety of the courses; there are only SECONDS different between 3M and Austin—I’m impressed and amazed!!
A: My overall time for the Challenge was about the same as last year. I got injured right before the Run for the Water and was slower than usual in that race, but recovered by Decker and was in pretty good shape by Austin, where I was able to finish in the same time as 3M even though Austin is a much more difficult course. I was much faster in 2010, when I ran PRs at every distance, including 37:08 at IBM, 1:04:01 at the Run for the Water, and 1:22:31 at 3M.
Q: What kind of training do you do? (We talked about this a bit on the phone, but please elaborate so I get your words.)
A: I usually run 7 miles Tuesday at 6 a.m. and 3.5 miles Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Luke’s Locker, and sometimes with Al’s Ship of Fools on Thursday or Saturday. I usually try to do a longer run on the weekend. I only run about 20 miles a week most of the year, but try to increase to over 30 during the Distance Challenge, since the races are longer.
Q: Do you do any cross training? If so, what kind?
A: I do some core training, spinning and water running. I don’t have a car, so I walk, run or bike almost everywhere I go, which adds up to a lot of exercise.
Q: What made you decide to take on the 2012 AFM FITTEST? Why’d you say “yes” to the invitation to participate?
A: I couldn’t imagine passing up the invitation to participate. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun.
Q: Which of the ten FITTEST events do you think will be your best? (tests are up at afmfittest.com)
A: I assume the 1-mile run will be my best event, since it’s the only event out of the ten that I train for.
Q: Which of the ten FITTEST events do you think will be the most challenging for you?
A: Pull-ups and burpees will be a challenge, as I have an old injury that makes activities that put a lot of stress on the wrist difficult.
Q: What are your next running events?
A: The Austin 10/20 on 4/15, Texas Round-Up 5k on 4/28, Chuy’s 5k on 5/5.
Q: Any special running story (funny, serious, otherwise) that shows a little of who you are or the way you approach your running?
A: When I was 16, I went for a run with a friend of mine who was training for a marathon. I thought we were doing 12 miles, but about halfway through the run, he said he’d decided to do 18 that day. When that run was over, my knees hurt so much that I swore I’d never run that far again, and would definitely not consider running a marathon. I quit competitive running shortly after that, and when I started running again, I decided that I wouldn’t run farther than 10k until I became a good 10k runner, as I have an aversion to high-mileage training. In 2009, the Distance Challenge offered the half-track option for the first time, and I ran a 37:21 at IBM, so I decided it was finally time for me to participate in the Challenge. By the end of the series, I ended up winning my age group in the Austin half marathon and winning the Distance Challenge. After three Distance Challenges, I still avoid high-mileage training and do not enjoy races longer than 10k.
Thanks so much for agreeing to being profiled, and I look forward to meeting you.