Hometown Hero Hoping For A Smash Hit On Sunday

Photo: Victah Sailer @PhotoRun.

Photo: Victah Sailer @PhotoRun.

Illinois native Tera Moody aims to succeed Kara Goucher as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon Champion.

Interview by: Matt Fitzgerald

Tera Moody, 29, an Illinois native now living in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the runaway favorite to win Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon benefiting the American Cancer Society. Moody has a half marathon personal best of 1:12:52 and a marathon PR of 2:32:59 set in Chicago last year. A graduate of the University of Colorado now working part-time as a real estate agent, Moody placed fifth in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Women’s Marathon. She spoke to us shortly before making the trip “home” for Sunday’s race, which she is approaching as an early tune-up for the Chicago Marathon in October.

Competitor.com: You grew up in Illinois, you’ve raced in Chicago before, and in previous interviews you’ve said you love racing in Chicago. What’s the appeal for you?

I love going to visit the city. It’s such a contrast from living in Colorado in the mountains. Denver doesn’t really feel like it has the big-city feel to me, and Chicago really does. It’s very easy. My dad lives right downtown. So it’s a really easy trip. I don’t have to worry about renting a car or trying to find a hotel. I can stay at home instead of rooming with some other runner. It’s very comfortable.

I always see a ton of people I know. Sometimes my high school coach will come out to the race. It’s just a lot of fun.

And I’ve always wanted to do a Rock ‘n’ Roll race. I’ve never been able to do one. The timing just never worked out. I’ve heard a lot of really good things about them. I thought about Philly, but it’s a little too close [to the Chicago Marathon] for me. I’ve never raced a half three weeks before a marathon. So I jumped at the chance to do it in Chicago.

What’s your goal for the race?

I started my marathon training two weeks ago. I ran a race on the fourth of July [the Alliant Energy Fifth Season Race in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which Moody won in 27:08] and then took a week off. Then I jumped right back in and I’ve really been hitting it. So I’m not going to back off too much. I’m not going to really taper down for this one. I’m going to do the 20K [the USA 20K National Championship in New Haven, Conn., on September 6] about a month out and that one will definitely be a little more intense. But I’m looking to put out a solid effort and see what I have. I’m confident about this weekend.

So this is a stepping stone toward the Chicago Marathon. What’s your goal for that race?

I want to run under 2:30. I know that’s kind of a big jump–my PR is 2:32:59. But I didn’t even think I was going to run the Chicago Marathon last year. It was seven weeks after the World Championships [Marathon]. I was dissatisfied with my performance there so I kind of jumped in at the last minute and I think I still had a little fatigue left in my legs from the World Championships. So, even though it’s kind of a big jump, I think it’s something that I’ll be ready for.

You’ve been working with coach Brad Hudson for a while now. I know he’s big on taking an adaptive approach with his runners, where training is constantly fine-tuned based on its effects. How has your training evolved under him?

I absolutely love that about Brad, that he’s very flexible and we’ve kind of learned as we’ve gone along—different things that have worked and haven’t worked. I train probably a lot differently than the people I race against. I tend to run a lot of my workouts probably more conservatively than others do. Part of that is because I tend to do more mileage and a lot of it has to do with my sleeping problem. Brad’s been great about dealing with that.

I like that he gives me input into things, because I feel that with the sleeping stuff I have to say when I’m feeling really tired and when we have to switch things up a little but. There are days when we’ve scheduled a workout and I say, “There’s no way. We’re going to have to move it to a different day.” I try not to do that a lot but I’d have to say I’m probably a lot more flexible in my training than other runners that I know.

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