Jimmy Grabow is So, So Casually Fast
The Cal State Long Beach college advisor slouches into his sophomore marathon in Chicago
by The Trailer
LONG BEACH – Pat Rizzo says, “Tell Grabow I’m going to kick his ass.”
And Jimmy Grabow says, “Uh, what’s my comment to that?” Then (perfectly), “We’ll see, man, we’ll see.”
Originally of Running Springs, Calif., Grabow leads the series 1-0, finishing 10th ahead of Rizzo’s 13th at the 2012 Olympic team trials marathon in January. It was Grabow’s debut, and his 2:12:29 time was the 12th fastest American debut ever. The pair will have their next matchup at the 2012 Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 7.
Grabow, 28, sounds exactly like what you’d imagine everyone in California talked like if you’d never been there. He punctuates his sentences with “man” and “dude” without irony. He’s someone you suspect smoked too much weed in high school.
But that “yeah, bro” speech belies the fact that to interview him, you’ve got to schedule your call at 7:00 A.M., at which time he’s already hammered out 10 miles. And showered.
Famous at the marathon trials for being a working stiff besides an elite runner, Grabow no longer wakes up at 5:30 A.M. to run, as he has for the last three years. He now gets up at 4:30, making sure he gets the most ideal weather for the workouts he runs solo before heading to his job as a Cal State Long Beach college advisor.
(It’s also the same school where he’ll earn his second masters degree—this one in history—in the spring. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.)
It all comes down to balance, Grabow says: a 40-hour work week, paired with the high-mileage distance training and masters coursework, lets him let go. “I don’t go into races having to win so I can put food on the table,” he says. “I go into races thinking, all right, this is just another opportunity to run my best and try and beat people. It’s lifted the load off the hardcore gotta-win-some-some-money, gotta-win-to-keep-my-sponsorship.”
This mindset means that for Chicago, Grabow is probably the least-worried elite in the field. Of marathon trials fourth-placer and 2012 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, Grabow says, ”When I was in high school and in college, he was the shit. And now I get to line up on the same starting line as him.”
And on the east Africans in the field, he says, “I probably won’t see them. That’s not my game plan. But the Japanese are running 2:10, 2:12, in that range; those are the guys. I can run with them, and I can run them down.”
Jimmy Grabow is not the rookie too naïve to understand the pressure of the situation; he’s the one at the birthday party who already has a pony at home, and no amount of wrapping paper is going to impress him.
“I’m going to go into Chicago just like I did with the trials: run my own race, have fun,” he says. “The way I look at this is it’s just another opportunity to improve myself and drop my marathon time.”
But even then Grabow can’t let Rizzo get off scot-free.
“I’ll be happier if I beat him,” he says. “He’s shit-talking me, dude. What the hell.”