You know those super speedy guys wearing Performance Running Outfitters singlets that you see at the local races? Cameron Ausen is one of them.
He’s the winner of the 2012 Wisconsin Marathon and one of the fastest men to represent Wisconsin at last year’s Boston Marathon, and below he shares a typical training week, what he listens to before a race and how the rest of us can improve our race times!
Team affiliation: Performance Running Outfitters Elite Racing Team
Years running: 15
Favorite workout: Longer threshold intervals (mile-2 miles) with short recoveries.
Favorite song to get pumped up pre-race: Rachmaninov’s Vespers and some of my old college choir recordings have all been employed to get charged up, while also maintaining some form of calm.
Favorite post-race treat: Soup, more soup, and (of course) beer.
Favorite gear: Winter gear is always awesome (especially the Brooks Utopia Softshell jacket) to help assure me that I can head out in the worst conditions and still be protected. As far as shoes go, I train mostly in the Brooks Defyance and the Mizuno Wave Inspire.
Favorite distance to race: Tough question! The 8K is probably my favorite because it is long enough where the endurance is really put to the test, but you can still let it rip with the speed. I really like the marathon distance as well, but it just beats me up so much.
- 20th Place – 2011 Bellin Run 10K (33:13)
- 5th Place – 2009 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (2:35:13)
- 5th Place – 2011 Brigg’s & Al’s Run (25:51)
- 3rd Place – 2013 Firecracker Four (21:04)
- 1st Place – 2012 Wisconsin Marathon (2:36:30)
- 75th American – 2013 Boston Marathon (2:33:10)
Why did you start running?
Originally, I started just to get in shape for what I thought would be a blossoming football career. That first run ended up being five miles and the following week I talked to the cross country coach at my high school and told him I would be running cross country the next fall.
What does a typical training week look like for you?
I generally have a longer run (anything from 90-150 minutes) at the beginning of the week, one longer workout with race-specific paces depending on what I’m training for, and a shorter workout to focus on higher end speed. The rest of the running is all at a very easy pace with strides and form drills 3-4 times per week. When I’m in peak training, I will have two or three morning runs added to the schedule to help with recovery or to get me ready to run fast while already tired (a huge part of marathon running).
Fill in the blank: When a race starts feeling tough, I _______.
Allow myself to give the pain its due, but then make the decision as to whether I will be “safe” and settle or take a risk and get after it, while realizing I may go down in flames (which really hurts a lot, but at least I know I tried).
Can you tell us a bit about running last year’s Boston Marathon. What were your thoughts during the race and immediately after, and how were you affected by the bombings?
During the race, it was a strange feeling since I had trained harder for that race than I ever had for anything in my life. In the early miles, it was hard to believe I was actually there after all that preparation, but the mile markers went by like I was thumbing through a flip-book. I especially remember getting really emotional once I turned right onto Hereford with about a half mile to go and seeing just how packed those crowds were and the support they were offering a complete stranger like me. The last turn onto Boylston Street is where dreams are realized. Every time I think about it, I still get goose bumps. Even though I was in a very high level of discomfort, I had a huge smile on my face as I crossed the finish line.
After the race, my wife, Katie, and I got a quick lunch and were watching other finishers come in before we decided to go back to our hotel and headed toward the train station to get back to Newton. Right when we were crossing the Massachusetts Avenue bridge that goes over the freeway, we heard two very loud bangs that I initially thought was a truck backfiring in a tunnel that was nearby but it seemed very loud for that. We headed into the train station to catch the subway back to Newton when a huge group of SWAT personnel crowded into the station and yelled for everyone to get out because there was an emergency. Then, I thought it was perhaps an explosion on the subway.
Once we got out onto street level, everyone was on their phones trying to figure out what was going on and I noticed that the runners in their last mile on Commonwealth Avenue were being stopped on the course and re-routed. They had no idea what happened. That’s when I saw on my phone that those explosions were at the finish line. I immediately thought it was a terrorist attack and my heart broke for the runners that I now realized would not be able to finish. Volunteers at a nearby water station were still cheering for the runners as they came by and were telling them that they had a mile to go (right by Fenway Park). I felt so sad for the runners that I almost felt sick. I almost felt guilty that I was away from the worst of it, but knew that we had to keep walking away from downtown.
In the scramble to text or try calling family and friends to tell them we were okay, we just continued to walk the course in reverse. We ended up passing through Cambridge and got all the way back to the top of Heartbreak Hill after walking almost 6 miles. The streets no longer had the spectators or the party atmosphere that they had only hours earlier. It was eerie to see the Boston College campus vacant of students that had been probably the most raucous spectators on the course. We finally got a taxi that took us the rest of the way back to the hotel where the mood was very subdued, if not mournful. I felt it may not be appropriate to celebrate what had been a great race for me personally in light of such a tragedy. My wife really helped me through that and helped remind me that I could not let what I had done earlier that day ever be taken away from me by what was such a cowardly act by the terrorists. It is still an odd mixture of emotions in thinking about that race even to this day.
Do you have plans to race Boston again this year?
Not this year. It would have been three marathon buildups in 12 months, which would have been asking a little much for the way my body reacts to the training, but I am planning on going back in 2015. For anyone that is running the race in 2014, I know it’s going to be a great day. It’s the greatest marathon in the world and this next year is going to be especially memorable. I know that if I was toeing the line again this year, it would be quite the mixture of emotions, but an unforgettable experience as people once again rally to come together for what will possibly be one of the most noteworthy running events we’ll ever see.
What running goals are you looking to tackle next?
I’d like to break the rest of my personal bests from college (I still have the 800, mile, and 8K on the cross country course to go…) and the long-term goals are to break 15:00 in the 5,000 and 2:30 in the marathon.
What advice would you give to other runners who are looking to improve their race times?
Consistency is your best friend with distance running. If you are running consistently (even if you are not doing speed work), it will pay huge dividends by staying in good shape and much more resistant to getting injured.
Do you have any favorite Milwaukee races?
Brigg’s and Al’s Run is the one I’ve done the most and it never gets old. The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon is so well-organized and has a beautiful course. I also enjoy the Firecracker Four in Hales Corners. It is always very competitive, but a fun way to kick off the Fourth of July.
Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
The Menomonee Parkway never gets old for me (and I’ve been running on it since high school and college) along with the Washington Highlands neighborhood and the beautiful parks we have in the area (Whitnall, Greenfield, Dretzka, etc.).
In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
I think a lot of us like the extreme climate that we have, despite what we might say during the coldest points of the winter and the hottest times of the summer. It prepares us well for almost any set of conditions. Living in a city this large affords us beautiful areas to run as well as access to so many running groups. Now that the running specialty market is as alive and well in Milwaukee, there is much more access to the right equipment to keep us running and healthy. I have to pat my employer, Performance Running Outfitters, on the back a bit in that the brand is so much a part of the area running community and racing scene through its training programs, race sponsorships and visibility at major events.
Thanks for chatting with us, Cameron! If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.
Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!