He may be seven years removed from competitively running in high school, but 25-year-old Juneau resident Shawn Miller still finds ways to beat the field.
The 2002 Western Washington University and 1998 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate recently captured the Coeur d'Alene Marathon in Idaho by a commanding margin.
Miller completed the May 29 race in 2 hours, 34 minutes and 24 seconds, nearly 20 minutes faster than his closest competitor.
"Once I got out of college I realized that while I don't have that natural runners talent, I've always relied on my two strengths - recovering quickly after workouts and races and being able to do long distances," Miller said. "When you put those two things together, that's the next best thing."
In his first competition ever in Idaho, Miller felt worried about the area's unusually warm weather and a stiff headwind on the course.
To combat those elements, Miller blazed through the first half of the race and hoped to hold on for the win.
"I realized right away that the weather and the course was going to make it a slow race," Miller said. "I knew right away I was going to get dehydrated and slow down regardless of how much food I took in. My strategy was to go out harder than I normally would, like a half-marathon pace, and hold that as long as possible."
Miller knew he was going to fall apart physically in the race's final stages, but felt he had a good chance of winning if he crossed the tape at 2 hours and 40 minutes.
His strategy worked perfectly.
"I've never had a problem with long runs, more than two hours, even on a nasty day," Miller said. "I have that mental toughness to do that now. It doesn't seem to affect me."
Miller celebrated his victory the next weekend by winning Saturday's Southeast Roadrunners Eaglecrest Climb - a grueling five-mile uphill trek.
The 25-year-old normally runs between 101 and 106 miles per week and plans on participating in one more marathon this year.
Miller, who works full-time with the Alaska Department of Transportation, will continue to train and scope out his next challenge.
"I have to decide on an end-of-season marathon, sometime in the fall or winter," Miller said. "I hope to have my best race of the season."
Juneau Empire ©2014. All Rights Reserved.