Jeff Mullen, 25, the cadet from Team 7 in Colorado, is finding out the difficulty of long runs during the dog days of summer. “Every long run I seem to learn about a new part of my body that hurts,” he says. “But I feel very accomplished, since I have never run that far in my life. Before starting the program, the longest run I’d done was a 10K.”
His veteran partner, Katie Oglesby, 41, of Littleton, knows a thing or two about long runs. Her big races this year were the Big Horn 50 Mile trail run in Sheridan, Wyo., in June, followed by the Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile trail run on July 14. Unlike most runners this time of year, her training is actually winding down.
“I know a lot of people find this hard to understand,” Katie says. “But I’ve been doing marathons all summer to train for (the ultras).”
Both Jeff and Katie are part of the Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Competitor and Saucony that pairs experienced marathon vets with first-timers (“cadets”) as they both train to achieve their marathon goals.
Jeff is running is longest race this weekend at the Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon in Ouray, Colo. His goal is to keep the pace at 10-minute miles, which he was able to maintain for his 12-miler last weekend.
“My goal is to finish under 4:30 for my first marathon,” he says. “If I can, 4:30 would be really wicked.”
Katie is planning to help pace Jeff for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon, their goal race on Oct. 20.
“I’ve run the Denver Marathon several times, and it’s not a PR type of course,” says Katie. “I’ll run with Jeff and experience a first marathon vicariously through him.
“I am stoked to see him run this race,” she says. “It’s not any easy course. I’m very impressed (although not surprised since I’ve gotten to know him) that he’s chosen this as his first marathon.”
To learn more about the Saucony 26 Strong program and its runners, visit www.26strong.com.