Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Springfield runner looking to complete comeback at U.S. Olympic trials marathon

Springfield native Tyler Pence will be running at the U.S. Olympic trials marathon on Feb. 29 in Atlanta alongside the fastest marathoners in the country.

The top three finishers will represent the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Pence qualified for the Olympic trials by running 2:15:36 at the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December 2018.

The 26-year-old had what could have been a career-ending injury in high school, and after battling injuries during a successful college career, he thought he was done competing. But Pence said he doesn’t want to look back when he’s older and think, what if?

“A big thing for me is knowing that I’ve given it everything I have,” he said. “I don’t want to leave any regrets. You’re only young once. I want to see what I can do with it.”

Pence is in his fourth year of coaching, and his first year as head coach, for the cross country and track teams at the University of Illinois at Springfield. He encourages his athletes to chase their dreams, work hard and live a lifestyle of no excuses. It made him think about his own running.

“I think I have a lot more left in me. I needed to start practicing what I’m preaching,” Pence said. His mentality of giving 100 percent in training and racing is the result of a serious injury.

Right now, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in by far,” he said. Pence coaches himself, and he has been following an 18-week training plan for the Olympic Trials.

“My plan is to put myself in the mix and be in the front group and give 100 percent,” he said. “I’m going to give it everything I’ve got on that day. I’ll leave there knowing I gave it my all.” Whatever happens in Atlanta, Pence plans to attempt to qualify for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

This article appeared in The News-Gazette on Feb. 18, 2020..

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