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Isthmus Runner Interviews

Meeting Madison Area Runners One Interview at a Time

Isthmus Runner

 Interview with Joe Kurian!

 If you've run a race in Madison, chances are you've run with Joe Kurian. Okay, maybe not with him but in the same race at least. Joe has won or been in contention of winning almost every major road race in Madison and Milwaukee. He recently won the Lake Monona 20K in 1:06.11 (5:20 mile pace!). In addition to running, Joe stays busy as a graduate student at the UW. He and his wife, Aimee, also have a young daughter, Holly.

How and when did you start running?

I started running after watching my mom do Grandmas Marathon in the mid 80's so I was somewhere around 5 or 6 years old. I remember coming home from Duluth and running around our block (barefoot) 26 times. It's no wonder I have low arches!
I see you are a postdoctoral fellow at UW. Is it hard to balance that work with running?

Running is a part of me, without it, there is no balance. I guess I better keep myself healthy so I can keep doing this for a while!

Do you mainly train by yourself or do you occasionally join up with other runners?
I guess this gets back to the balance question. My time that's open for training is dictated heavily by an unpredictable, toddler driven schedule. As a result, I do it when I can and sometimes get lucky to connect with a few favorite running partners. I had, however, recently been able to do a scheduled Sunday run from Berkeley Running Company. I enjoy those runs because they are a no pressure opportunity to share this passion with other runners.
Looking at past race results, it looks like you’ve had some pretty impressive races, including wins at the Madison Marathon and Lakeshore Marathon. What would you say is your proudest running moment so far?
Jeez, it's hard to say which moment made me most proud. I have had my share of race wins and those are satisfying, but when I can remember being most proud was after the 1999 Chicago marathon when I "ran the whole way." From that point on I felt I could accomplish anything in running if I put my mind to it.
The year you won the Madison Marathon (2006) it was like 95-degrees and you still managed to run a 2:41.47. How did you deal with the heat?
The past couple Ironmans I had done before that race were in excruciating heat. Those definitely prepared me, particularly by giving me a sense of what would be reasonable to expect for pace, time, etc. I took it easy early on and it really paid off in the end. Maybe I should think of doing that more often!
This past fall, you took second at the Lakeshore Marathon. According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, you fell on your face in the last mile but still managed to finish the race in second place?! How did you do it?

That was another HOT race. It was the same day as the Chicago marathon aid station debacle. Funny what a shot of adrenaline will do at that point in a marathon. Once I came to (almost fully) I realized what happened and what had to be done and the adrenaline pushed me to the finish. I remember sitting down when I crossed the finish line feeling a bit of pain on and about my face, not to mention fully dejected. Sitting down was a bad idea, there was no adrenaline rush or race to finish after I took that seat. It made walking around in the weeks after the race a heck of a lot more difficult than normal. Note to self: whatever the circumstance, don't sit down on a marathon finish line ever again.

Where would you say is your favorite place to run in Madison?
The Arb, of course!
What are some of your favorite local races?
Madison Marathon and Ironman Wisconsin. In the Milwaukee area I like doing the Southshore half marathon, the John Dick Memorial 50k and, of course, Lakefront Marathon.
What are some of your interests outside of running?
My toddler, Holly, has become my primary interest. It's something new everday with her...never quite know what she's going to come up with next. That's a lot of fun! Before her I spent more time triathlon training and home rehab/remodeling. I don't mind the break from either. Then there's always science...but I won't bore you with that stuff!
If you could run with any runner, past or present, who would you pick?
My dad. He had a hip replacement not long ago and his running days are basically over. It would have been nice to share running with him more often when we had the chance.
Do you have any long term goals for the sport like a specific time in the marathon or to run an ultra marathon?

I think I've reached my distance capacity for running (50k), in a physical and mental sense. I would like to run the marathon under 2:22 before 2012. I also ran Crazylegs for the first time a few weeks ago. That was a speed I'm not familiar with. As I start structuring my training a bit I'd like to gain the speed to be more competitive in that race, or at least hold on for more than 2 miles! I better do that soon before I get too old.

Posted Thursady May 8, 2008 

 

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