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The New York City Marathon came storming back last week after a year’s hiatus following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Among those first across the finish line was Christian Thompson, of Wyncote, Pa. Christian placed 20th overall and was the 3rd American to finish the race. It’s not easy to see from his placement, but this was Christian’s marathon debut. NBC10 got a chance to catch up with Christian to talk about his life, training, performance, and future.
You graduated from The University of Colorado in Boulder. Why there?
Well the summer between my junior and senior year of high school my family and I went out west and we flew into Denver and drove through the CU boulder campus. We were really going to visit the University of Montana, but we went up through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and things just kind of worked out and I ended up out there in Boulder.
What did you study at school?
I did international affairs and Spanish for the professions, which was a double major.
You are originally from upstate New York. You went to college in Colorado. Now you live in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. How did that move come about?
My fiancé goes to optometry school in Elkins Park. She did her fifth year of college out in Colorado and then we both moved back here. But we are both from Binghamton area, and we knew of each other before college and we ended up meeting and I guess the rest is history.
You mentioned that even with your high placement, you would have liked to run a little faster.
Yeah, I mean, there’s hills all over the course. The first mile is all up-hill. Going through Brooklyn isn’t too bad. The thing is you cross at least 4 or 5 bridges and you’ve got decent hills there that you don’t notice in a car when you’re driving, but you certainly notice them when you’re running. And then you’re on first Ave for quite a long time, six miles, I think. And that felt like it was continuously uphill. And again, you really don’t notice these things when you’re in a car but when you are, you know, 16, 20, 25 miles into a race and you get a little bit of an incline you really start to notice.
So was that something you anticipated in your training? Or did it catch you by surprise?
Well, I’ve heard that New York City is not really a very “fast” course compared to the other big marathons in terms of flat courses. But I had never seen the whole course in person. I mean, I’ve driven across the Verrazano Bridge a few times but obviously this was one of the only times you could actually run across it. I watched the video they had of the course but you really can’t see the inclines that well and you really don’t know until you do it yourself. I kind of knew what I was getting myself into but again you really don’t know until you go do it.
You finished in 2:22:48. Did you have a target time or was the plan to just finish as fast as possible?
The big goal was 2:15 which is the A standard for the 2016 Olympic Marathon trials. So I was hoping to hit that time and qualify for those. A lot of people ran slower than they had in the past and that’s kind of the way it goes but I’ve still got a couple more years so hopefully I’ll be able to run a few more flatter marathons and get it down to 2:15:00.
So when you trained for the marathon did you ever run the full 26.2 miles?
No, the first time I ran the full 26.2 was the actual race. Time-wise, I’ve done runs longer but never gone the full 26.2. I think time-wise my longest run was 2 hours and 36 minutes. And distance wise I’ve gotten up to 24 miles, but I’ve done some really long workouts and stuff. Yeah, I kind of got to 24 miles and was like, well, I’ve never gone this far before. A lot of people say a marathon is a 20-mile run and a 10k race. So by the end of it I was a little sore and my left calf started cramping a little bit but it ended up behaving and I was glad to get one under the belt.
People run for all different reasons. What motivates you?
Distance runners have a huge passion because nobody is getting that 10 million dollar contract that top athletes are getting. So for me, it’s always been a dream of mine to run professionally because, who wouldn’t love to get paid for what they do? So it’s kind of a mix of a passion and a profession and it is kind of a lifestyle. I’m just used to the running and when I take my breaks it’s like something’s missing. I enjoy not running for about 3 or 4 days and then I start getting that urge back. And the thing with the marathon, you know, I got into the elite field but I felt like any other person running the marathon. It was my first one and I just felt the excitement of running a marathon. It’s different than any other distance I’ve done because it kind of just levels the playing field.
What’s ahead for Christian Thompson?
I would love to do the Broad Street Run this year. I love the idea of being able to roll out of bed and do a local race. Also, I’d love to do another marathon, probably one that’s flatter. Hopefully I can do the Eugene marathon out in Oregon.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself outside of running.
I love to travel and I competitively snow shoed in high school. They weigh about a pound each and they’re about 15 inches long and half a foot wide. I would do 10k’s in the snow and stuff. I did a race in Italy and that was definitely one of my favorite places I’ve been too it was really fun.