© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated
Nicholas Arciniaga is an American long distance runner who specialises in the marathon. He currently owns a personal best time of 2:11:30, which he achieved at the 2011 Houston Marathon. That same year he competed in the IAAF World Track and Field Championships that took place in Daegu, South Korea. He finished seventh in the 2014 B.A.A. Boston Marathon and 10th in the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, in very windy conditions.
Originally from Southern California, he now lives and trains in Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife Carolyn. Between university and Flagstaff, Arciniaga spent three years training with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project that is based in Rochester, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The couple both attended Cal State, Fullerton.
Hansons-Brooks is a post-collegiate distance group that provides coaching, housing and a flexible work environment that allows dedicated athletes to train full-time.
5,000m – 14:13.14
10,000m – 28:29.71
Half Marathon – 63:22
Marathon – 2:11:30
Christopher Kelsall: How did you come to discover running, how old were you?
Nicholas Arciniaga: I discovered running from my parents, both had done track in middle school and high school and were very active when I was a kid. Even though I didn’t start training or racing until I began high school, I always enjoyed the challenge of running ‘The Mile’ during elementary and middle school.
CK: Who were your athletic heroes growing up or mentors later on?
NA: I don’t remember having any. I enjoyed watching sports like the Olympics, baseball, and hockey. As I got older, and more involved with running, my coaches and older teammates always serves as my mentors.
CK: Does your wife, Carolyn run?
NA: She runs a limited amount right now as she’s coming off of a couple injuries that kept her out of the sport for four years. She was a very good collegiate runner before that and holds a couple school records at our Alma Mater, Cal State Fullerton. Recently she has been healthy and even did her first road race in years at the Baltimore Marathon.
CK: Did you grow up in Huntington Beach? If so, have you fully embraced the four seasons of Flagstaff, or would you prefer to be in Southern California again?
NA: I grew up right next to Huntington Beach, in Fountain Valley. After college I moved to Michigan to join the Hansons team, where I embraced the four seasons for the first time in my life. After three years there, the seasons have been amazing in Flagstaff, and are much tamer. I will eventually move back to California, but for my career at this point Flagstaff is my preferred training environment.
CK: Regarding Rochester, were you prepared for winter? Did you have second thoughts about training in Michigan once January hit?
NA: I was not prepared at all. The Hansons’ guys had a good time making fun of my winter running clothing (hoodie and swishy warm up pants). However, I adjusted quickly and was quite used to running on the ice and snow by my second winter there.
I didn’t have second thoughts at all; I knew that the team of guys that I was joining and the coaching system would help me improve to a level that I wanted to get to. At the time we had 12 guys that qualified for the 2007 Olympic Trials, most notably, Brian Sell.
CK: Your 2014 New York City Marathon, like everyone else’s, was affected by heavy winds. Can you describe the worst of it?
NA: The worst part for me was trying to keep up with the leaders as long as I could. They would eventually surge when the winds weren’t as bad and I was left behind numerous times. I would then have to battle the winds solo to catch back up.
CK: How were you (and the winds) around the 20-to-21-mile mark?
NA: Late in the race I was working back and forth with Ryan Vail, trading leads since the winds were still gusting between buildings. The winds were still pretty nasty even heading back up 5th Ave towards Central Park.
CK: I was referring a little more to the point in the race (20 miles) to do with having to work harder against the wind. Did you notice a bigger fade after the 20 mile point or did you keep the pace up?
NA: I definitely was fading at that point, I just checked my splits and from the point that Ryan and I were dropped from the main group to the finish I was going on average about 10 seconds slower per mile. It isn’t a terrible amount, but over eight miles (80 seconds) that could have been a couple more places that we missed out on.
CK: At the finish, you were sandwiched in between countryman Ryan Vail, who owns a best of 2:10:57 and Yuki Kawauchi of Japan who has a best of 2:08:37. Your personal record is 2:11:30. Did your placing – 10th overall and between these two athletes – temper any potential letdown as a result of your 2:15:39 time?
NA: It definitely makes the time not seem as bad. Coming into this race (before knowing about the wind) I wasn’t shooting for a fast time, just a good placing. I was hoping to break into the top-5, but against a field that deep, I am mostly pleased with 10th.
CK: Do you think your experience in the deluge at Sacramento (California International Marathon) in December 2013 helped you prepare to deal with the inclement weather of New York?
NA: Absolutely, I learned a lot from CIM, most of it was how to not race in the wind. I was very aggressive at a lot of the wrong points in Sacramento, which cost me the race there. This time around the game plan was for the most part to just run with the leaders and be patient.
CK: Of course it helps to have a deeper field, as NY always provides.
NA: Absolutely, that was a big difference between those two races. In CIM my goal was to win and possibly run away from the start, which I did and ended up leading too much throughout the race and then fading. With the field in NYC I had every intention of just sitting with the lead group and waiting.
CK: New York is an honest marathon, even without the winds. What are your thoughts on Dennis Kimetto’s 2:02:57 in Berlin – a virtual time trial? Were you initially shocked by that performance?
NA: It is hard to be shocked these days with the world records that are being produced. I was discussing this with people in New York about how when I started marathoning back in 2006 the best guys in the world were Gebrselassie, Tergat, and Cheruiyot. Cheruiyot was untouchable at Boston setting the course record in 2:07 and change. Eight years later it is a whole new world.
CK: What is the difference between now and 2006? Why are they producing this new standard of times?
NA: One big difference that has been seen are the age and talent levels of the African guys doing the marathon, a lot of them are skipping their track careers to chase times and money on the road at a much younger age. Combine that with the time-trial style of racing and the fast times got faster.
CK: Was Rita Jeptoo’s positive drug test a topic of discussion amongst the athletes at NY?
NA: Absolutely. It was very disappointing to see. I have read up a little bit about it since being back home and everything seems pretty shady to me. Even the comments from Rita’s coach and agent. It is terrible for the sport, but it’s nearly impossible to know who to believe.
CK: Of course you will want to compete in Rio, until then, what are your marathon goals?
NA: Yes, Rio is the big long term goal. More immediately, I will still focus on a spring and possibly the World Championships or a fall marathon. I would like to go into the trials with a better PR, however, another couple good runs at World Marathon Majors will be good for me as well.