The Marathon Project | Jordan O'Dea & Dan Kremske race this weekend!

The Marathon Project | Jordan O'Dea & Dan Kremske race this weekend!

There's a very exclusive in-person marathon happening this weekend in Arizona. Dubbed "The Marathon Project", this is a race with high aspirations and the athletes to match. The hope is an American record for Sarah Hall and a breakout race for some to the other stars: Kellyn Taylor, Emma Bates, Stephanie Bruce, or Diane Nukuri. On the men's side, 5 athletes boast times under 2:10: Amanuel Mesel Tikue, Jose Antonio Uribe Marino, Scott Fauble, Jared Ward, & Cam Levins. And, yes of course, some Heartbreakers made the cut! The Heartbreaker women's marathon record holder & 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials competitor, Jordan O'Dea, is toeing the line and so is the record holder for fastest staffer, Dan Kremske, who runs for Second City Track out of Chicago. We asked them how they're feeling heading into the race.

Conor Cashin: How excited are you for the opportunity to run a REAL RACE in 2020?!

Jordan O'Dea: I am so excited for the opportunity to run a REAL RACE in 2020! It has felt like such a long time ago since I raced a marathon and I guess that's because it has been! I am feeling really fortunate that I am able to race this weekend. I am looking forward to racing and more importantly hopefully racing fast!

Dan Kremske: I was very optimistic about my upcoming slate of racing in 2020 after coming off a near-personal best half-marathon in January and then a top-30 finish at the Marathon Trials in February. Our world obviously changed dramatically after that, but like everyone else I had to adjust to running on a regular basis without any "real" races in the foreseeable future. The presentation of this opportunity to toe a physical starting line and compete shoulder to shoulder with other top marathoners gave purpose and a more narrowed focus to my running. So to answer the question, I am tremendously excited for this unique opportunity to compete with the best on a Sunday morning in 2020!

CC: How has your build up been navigating the trials and tribulations of 2020?

JO: My build up for this race started off a bit bumpy just because coming off of the trials I had some small injury setbacks that lingered for a bit so I had to do a lot of world rebuilding and getting comfortable running a lot of miles again, but with everything going on in the world, I, just like everyone else had nothing but time to do it which was great. Once I got some build up going I was able to get back to a consistent training schedule and started to feel strong. My workouts gradually progressed and I was running some of my fastest splits during some of my longer tempos which was very exciting! I feel like because I had so much time on my hands I was really able to focus on my training and getting fit which helped me to progress my training and paces for workouts.

DK: My Second City Track Club team has done a solid job of continuing to train in a meaningful and responsible way throughout the challenges of this year. I have two other SCTC teammates (Colin Mickow & Alan Peterson) competing this weekend, so the trio of us have been meeting and knocking-out consistent long runs and workouts exclusively together over the last 10+ weeks. I've been very pleased with the body of work we've collectively put in together over that time.

CC: Is there anything you've done differently in this build up as opposed to others?

JO: There really isn't anything that I've done differently for this build up besides giving myself more recovery time between long/hard workouts and long runs so that I could continue to build up my long run and feel good as well as feeling ready and good for big tempo workouts. I also have changed where I have been doing my tempo runs to a 3 mile loop that I think has mentally helped prepare me for the course that I will be running Sunday.

DK: I had very strong build-ups to my last two marathons- Chicago 2019 and the Marathon Trials 2020. Both of those races were personal breakthroughs in the marathon distance. I set out at the beginning of this training block to replicate what worked well in those respective build-ups. There certainly isn't any big secret beyond preparing the body for intense, high-volume training sessions, recovering well from those, and then repeating that consistently for a handful of consecutive weeks. I feel like I was successful in executing that kind of consistency better than I ever have for any other marathon training block.

CC: Time goal? & how are you feeling about hitting it?

JO: My goal time for this marathon is 2:36 and based on how my workouts have been going such as my long tempos and long runs I am feeling pretty good about hitting it...but we shall see!

DK: My marathon personal best is 2:14:53 from Chicago 2019. Walking away with any kind of a new personal best would be a success in my eyes. I'll probably aim to go out a bit faster (exact goal paces TBD), but if I can at least bring home a PR on Sunday I'd be happy. I'm fairly confident I am in PR shape at the moment.

CC: Do you have a "marathon mantra" going into Sunday's race?

JO: I guess some marathon mantras going into Sunday's race are:
-Remember what you've been working for
-One mile at a time
-If I'm going to work this hard, I wanna win (win meaning running the goal time I am going for not win the whole race haha)

DK: I don't have anything too grand or elaborate I'll be focusing on for Sunday. In the past, my ability to focus on executing fairly specific tasks in-race typically has leant to the most positive outcomes. For example, that may entail making sure I drink all or most of my bottle at the next fuel station, or focus on hitting a very specific split for each mile at a time early on. So perhaps "execute the details" may best describe my mental approach heading into Sunday.

CC: What's the fuel & the footwear of choice?

JO: My fuel for the race will be GU's varying in flavor (toasted marshmallow and campfire s'mores) and watered down gatorade in my personal fluid bottles and my footwear of choice will be Nike next%

DK: Our SCTC team is sponsored by Skratch Labs, so I'll have my uniquely branded Skratch bottles with Skratch's Sport Superfuel Drink Mix dissolved in them. I'll probably also have some personal gels taped to a few of the bottles to ensure I've got all my in-race fueling needs covered. As far as footwear, I really am a huge fan of the NIKE Vaporfly Next%. My stride has always felt incredibly smooth and efficient in them, so I ultimately never made the jump to the Alphaflys. That could change in the future, but for now I'm rocking the Next%s!

CC: Anything else you'd like to add?

JO: Just overall really excited to get out there and get after it and always looking forward to reppin the heart :)

DK: This year has certainly been a reminder that while running can be a great solitary activity and exercise, it is best shared as a passion and celebrated as a sport in the company of others. I have missed my Heartbreak community immensely in 2020, and I cannot wait to run with everyone again in 2021! Until then, be safe and be well!