Dan Kremske may only be starting to discover what he can accomplish at running long distances.
The 2007 Woodstock High School graduate was 25th in the Chicago Marathon (2:18:52) in his first marathon race in October. On Sunday in Houston, Kremske finished 25th again, this time at the USA Half Marathon Championships, where he ran 1:04:27 to qualify for the marathon in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016.
“It really is incredible,” said Kremske, who ran cross country and track at the University of Illinois. “Coming out of college, and when I was out of college, I had my ups and downs. I never really thought that, especially at 24 years old, that I’d be in this position. Maybe someday down the road. I’m surprised and excited.”
Kremske had to break 1:05:00 to qualify for the Olympic Trials, which are expected to be run in either Los Angeles or Houston in early 2016. He jumped in with a group he figured would click off sub-5:00 miles and stayed with them the best he could.
“I tried to conserve energy running in that pack,” said Kremske, who coached Woodstock North’s boys and girls cross country teams in the fall. “When you get in no-man’s land, it’s hard to stay focused and engaged in the race. I fell off a little bit, but was able to maintain with some guys around me and we pushed each other.”
Kremske was at some disadvantage with the cold winter weather and by training alone while living in Woodstock. Many of the top runners Sunday train with clubs, where they have coaching and daily competition. Kremske currently is self-paced and self-coached, although he hopes that might change.
“There are clubs throughout the U.S. where they have coaching and training partners,” Kremske said. “If I can make some connections and have those opportunities, it’s hard to pass that up.”
Kremske works for the Wellness Department of Centegra Health Systems, where he does health screenings. He can use knowledge from his degrees in kinesiology and in molecular and cellular biology for some of what he does at Centegra. The experience will also help him toward graduate school, where he will train to become a physician’s assistant.
If he is still in the area, he would like to return as North’s cross country coach again in the fall.
And he will keep running. Kremske, who graduated from Illinois in 2012, plans on competing in a lot of road races through the spring and summer, more half marathons and again running in the Chicago Marathon.
“I want to develop my strength in longer aerobic races,” Kremske said. “I need to get that strength and aerobic base underneath me to go after a much faster time than I had in Chicago.”