By COURTNEY LEWIS Press-Republican
---- — Dan Lennon isn’t used to running races as long as 10,000 meters, so Friday he thought he was almost done only to realize he still had a ways to go.
“When it really started to suck was with five laps to go,” he said. “I was thinking of indoor (races) and thought I only had 1,000 (meters) to go, but I actually had 2,000 and I thought, ‘This is going to be terrible.’
“It’s just a race you have to grind through.”
The Peru native got through it pretty well, placing second in the men’s junior 10,000 at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. He finished in 31 minutes, 35.89 seconds and qualified for the 2013 Pan Am Junior Championships in Medellin, Colombia.
Lennon recently completed his freshman year at Syracuse, where he ran the 5,000. But he said his coach believes his future is in the 10,000 and decided the national meet would be a good chance to get some experience in the longer race.
Lennon had run 10,000 meters in a road race but never on the track, where it’s 25 laps. But he said he was pretty confident going into Friday’s event.
“My races previously may not have shown how good of shape I’ve been in, but my workouts were showing it,” he said. “So it was good to finally have a race go the way I wanted and show what kind of shape I’m in.”
The junior category is for runners under 20, and Lennon said his competitors were mostly other college freshmen. Purdue’s Matt McClintock won in 31:14.31. Lennon finished about forty seconds ahead of the third-place runner. He said he wanted to try to catch McClintock, but the Purdue runner has more experience in the 10,000 and picked up his pace to separate himself.
“It was bittersweet,” Lennon said. “Getting second the first time at it was awesome. But sometimes you just want to win. It’s been a while since I’ve won a race.”
Lennon claimed multiple state titles while running for Peru and was used to winning every week in Section VII, so he said competing against the tougher collegiate competition has been an adjustment.
He ran cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track for the Orange and said his year was “pretty average. It wasn’t anything spectacular.” He noted that he was slowed by an injury this spring and added that the year was a good experience to build on.
The Pan Am Junior Championships are set for Aug. 23 to 25, which is right before cross country season starts. Lennon said his training will focus on cross country — his goal is to achieve All-America status as a sophomore — rather than the 10,000. But he’s still looking forward to the Pan Am meet.
“I’ve never been in an international meet before, so I’m very excited,” he said.
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