Lucas Meyer: Among the Elite
With the recent boom in American men’s distance running, the U.S. Olympic Trials Men’s Marathon has become a much anticipated event. The excitement around the race is building with many of the top contenders predicting that it will take a sub-2:10 performance to make the 2012 Olympic Team. Indeed, the trials field is peppered with Olympians, U.S. Champions, and All-Americans - and there is no “B” Standard – only the “A” standard – a very speedy 2:19 for the marathon or a 1:05 for the half. Just getting to the line is an achievement in and of itself.
The B.A.A’s Lucas Meyer, a 28 year-old attorney from Ridgefield, CT, is one of the very talented few who will be featured among the top men’s marathoners this coming Saturday. Meyer joined the B.A.A. after a stint on the West Coast where he ran for the Nike Farm Team. “I moved back to New England because most of my family is here. I liked California and Oregon but decided that being close to my family was absolutely worth making the move back. I got in touch with the BAA through my former Nike Farm Team teammate Andrew Hill, who was running for the BAA in the winter of ’09 when I was in my first year of law school and was trying to figure out whether I would still be able to train at a fairly high level while studying hard.”
A two-time Division I All- American in cross country and track while at Yale, Meyer followed up his collegiate career with an appearance at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track and Field competing in the steeplechase. Over the past four years, he has turned his attention to cross country and road racing with a careful build-up to the marathon. In fact, Meyer qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Men’s Marathon with his half-marathon performance at the 2010 Houston Half Marathon and before he had ever competed at the marathon distance.
Meyer’s recent running resume is impressive. Since joining the club, he successfully balanced his legal studies while representing the B.A.A. at U.S. Championships and other high-profile races. In 2011 alone, he set personal bests in the 15k when he placed twenty-second at the Gate City Run, in the 10 mile, running 48:26 at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile where he was the top US finisher, and in the marathon. He also set a meet record of 8:57:74 in the steeplechase at the New Balance Boston Twilight Meet. He doesn’t have any one performance of which he is particularly proud, but he notes that “Every time I push myself to the limit and run with great competitive fire I’m proud.”
Of all the events in which he has competed, he enjoys 12k cross country the most. “I really enjoy running on grass and trails over changing terrain, and I think that cross country suits my abilities well in general.” In considering his racing strengths, he is a pretty strong hill runner. And what about the fact that the trials course is primarily flat? “I might fare better on a hillier course, but I’m generally unconcerned about how the course suits my abilities and am just happy to have the opportunity to run hard and compete against some very fast runners.”
And Meyer is one of those fast runners. He has been able to maintain a high performance level, complete law school, and work full-time as an attorney at Carmody & Torrance, LLP. This has been due, in part, to several factors. “I’ve been lucky enough to be able to continue to run largely thanks to the support of a great group of family and friends, who have encouraged me to keep going and helped make it possible for me to do so. Since graduating from college I’ve also been lucky enough to receive support from a couple running groups, including the BAA since I’ve been back on the east coast. Without the BAA it would’ve been much harder, if not impossible, to get to the big races and stay motivated to keep plugging along. Also, I just really enjoy running, and have found training enjoyable and fulfilling even when I’ve been balancing it with other pursuits and not always progressing as I hoped I would.”
His training load is considerable and the challenge is to continue to improve while staying healthy. In preparing for the marathon, he has benefitted from the guidance of his college coach, Dan Ireland. His training schedule typically includes “two workouts per week, including one workout/long run hybrid during which I do some running at or around marathon effort, and one shorter workout during which I run faster paces. I’ve been aiming for 90-100 miles per week in the buildup to Trials. I stay healthy and avoid injury by eating well and sleeping as much as possible.”
Since qualifying for the Marathon Trials, Meyer has run two marathons, his debut coming at Boston 2010 where he ran 2:21:29. This past October, he ran his second, a 2:19:03 at the Chicago Marathon. He gained valuable experience in both races, “I’ve learned that it’s important to be patient and keep my effort level steady when running marathons. In both Boston and Chicago I was somewhat impatient and impulsive and it hurt me towards the end of the race. In Houston I’m going to give it my all and run as hard as possible, but I’m going to try my best to stay relaxed and not dig myself into a hole early in the race.” And he would caution other marathoners,” It’s important to be patient and not push too hard too early. Also, sometimes it’s helpful to rein in one’s competitive tendencies a bit, especially early in marathons, and remember to run within oneself rather than just trying to match or better someone else’s pace.”
While he doesn’t have specific race strategy per se, Meyer has been singly focused on the Men’s Marathon Trials and has a very specific goal. “I’d like to run the fastest and toughest race that I can, and beat as many people as possible. I hope that doing so will carry me into the top 20 or 30.” If his 2011 performances are indicative of what we can expect from Meyer in 2012, a new PR and a top finish are practically guaranteed.