In the fall of 2011, Andrew Carlson was looking forward to his marathon debut at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Born in Fargo, ND, and a two-time cross country All-American at the University of Minnesota, Carlson was looking forward to a lot of Upper Midwestern support. Then, just days before the race, torn ligaments in his ankle forced him to withdraw; the night before the race, he found himself at a wedding reception in the same hotel that was hosting the athletes. So instead of Twin Cities, Carlson—the 2010 U.S. 25K champion and 2008 U.S. 15K champion—raced 26.2 miles for the first time at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where he surprised a few people by finishing sixth in 2:11:24. A North Dakota state cross-country champion while competing for Fargo South High School and now a member of Team USA Minnesota, Carlson sees himself as a Midwesterner for life. After finishing seventh in the USA 10 Mile Championships on October 7, he will make his ING New York City Marathon debut on November 4.
1) When I was little, we lived out of town, in the country. It’s a cool thing when you can be on your own dreaming up big things. I think that’s a good thing for a distance runner.
2) Before the Olympic Trials one of my training partners was my dog, but he hurt his knee playing fetch last winter. What kind of dog is he? I don’t know, he’s a big black-and-white dog named Rocket. Before he got hurt he ran 10 miles in 62 minutes. I wish I could have found him a half-marathon at that point. He would have set the world record for dogs.
3) About 20 miles into the Trials someone yelled at me that Abdi [Abdirahman, who would finish third] was coming back, but by then I was going backward, too. I felt great except for my legs, but then I realized that that’s kind of a big thing. My mind flipped from “You are going to hammer this 10K” to “I hope I finish this thing.”
4) I was probably the least surprised of anyone about my results in Houston. I’m 30. I train with great marathoners all the time. I probably should have run my first marathon seven years ago. I knew I had that kind of race within me; it just needed to come out. I’m glad it came out at the right time.
5) You have to be ready when you go to New York—the city doesn’t slow down for anyone. I really want to feed off of that. I’m looking at the Marathon as the Super Bowl.
Photo by Kristine Smith