Many, if not most, of America’s elite marathoners skipped a fall marathon, electing for shorter distances or to just keep the focus on training before the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.
There were a few exceptions, though, including 2:11 marathoner Nick Arciniaga. The Under Armour-sponsored runner was hoping to leave a better taste in his mouth after a 14th-place finish at last April’s Boston Marathon, where he ran 2:18:02. So he entered the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1. That performance wasn’t any better, though—he struggled in the second half and ran 2:22:07 to place 16th.
The tough 2015 is behind him now, but will the toll of the New York City Marathon be evident at the Olympic Trials? Arciniaga doesn’t think so.
“I’ve run numerous amounts of races where I’ve run them pretty close together—between 2-4 months,” Arciniaga said. “There were 15 weeks between New York and L.A. I was not too concerned about the timing of it.
“I was hoping to rebound off the Boston performance, but it didn’t work out. After New York, I shut it down for a week and then got back into training.”
And for the most part, the training has gone well. He did tweak a quadriceps muscle around the holidays and spent two weeks focused on cross-training and running on the AlterG treadmill. But once the calendar turned over to 2016, he was back to normal.
His first big test on the quad was the Star Wars Half Marathon on Jan. 17 in California. Arciniaga won the race in 1:05:49 and overall was pleased, but also said “it was hard to judge what that 1:05 really signifies” due in part to running inside Disneyland for the first half of the race, which had a slippery surface and an unusual amount of turns within the park (and was also run in the dark due to the 5:30 a.m. start).
Arciniaga, though, had a strong effort and made the running world laugh with his entertaining finish-line stunt, where he sliced the finish-line tape in half with a toy lightsaber he grabbed from his wife about 100 meters from the finish.
“That,” he said, “was fun.”
Arciniaga’s next trip to Southern California will be all business, though. Before the Star Wars Half, Arciniaga went to Los Angeles and got a first-hand look at the Trials course. The next time he’s there, he will have a big cheering section spread out along the route.
Arciniaga is from Orange County, not far from downtown Los Angeles. He recently learned that students from his alma mater, Fountain Valley High School, will show up in force to cheer him on. In addition, an alumni from Fountain Valley who now teaches at Jordan High School in Los Angeles is bringing out a huge cheering section—just for Arciniaga.
Could it be the hometown advantage that pushes Arciniaga into the top three and onto the Olympic team? Time will tell, but it definitely won’t hurt.
“I’m going to have two high schools out there cheering just for me,” Arciniaga said. “That’s going to be pretty awesome.”