October 15, 2006 at 12:47 am #5646
October 11, 2006
When Edwardo Torres decided earlier this summer to run his first marathon, where he was going was an easy decision.
The 26-year-old native of suburban Wheeling will be part of the elite field at the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon on Oct. 22, and it will mark a return to run where it all started.
Torres, who now lives and trains in Longmont, Colo., will be making his marathon debut in preparation for next year's Olympic Marathon Trials.
While many Trials hopefuls decided to run New York next month to get a look at what the scene will be like next November when the race will be run in Central Park, Torres didn't give the idea of running Chicago a second thought.
“I want to come back home, to my kind of town,” Torres said. “It's where I grew up, and for a 26.2-mile race any bit helps, especially when you have a hometown crowd. It should make it easier for me than the other guys.”
Among the crowds of spectators will be a large contingent of Torres' family, which he says is more excited to see him run the marathon than any other race he's ever done. He says that they call him often to ask about his training and preparation.
Torres is close to his family, especially his twin brother, Jorge, who he calls his best friend. A first-generation American, Torres' father, Jose, came to the United States from Mexico, eventually settling into the area and opening up a small jewelry store.
In fact, if it weren't for his running, the family business might have been Torres' calling.
But when Jorge (who was born 10 minutes before Edwardo) started having early success with his running at age 12 and with Edwardo following closely behind, their older brother Danny took up their cause and their father let them continue running without any distractions.
“Danny knew we had something special,” he said. “He definitely helped us out by telling the family, 'Let's see what they can do.' After a few races, my dad realized we were blessed with talent and he said if we gave 100 percent he would be supportive of us.”
It turned out to be a good decision, as Jorge won three straight Class AA cross country titles, and Edwardo earned All-State honors four times in both cross country (where he never finished lower than 11th) and track.
That earned both of them an opportunity to run at the University of Colorado, and together they helped the Buffaloes win the 2001 NCAA Division I cross country title.
Edwardo finished his career as a three-time All-American in cross country, and signed an endorsement contract with Reebok to begin his professional running career. He currently trains with coach Brad Hudson and the Boulder Performance Group along with his brother and former college teammate Dathan Ritzenhein, who will be running in New York next month.
“I never expected that to ever happen,” Torres said. “I thought I was going to be like any kid, get done with high school and move on to college, and I though I would be (an average runner).
“When I became an All-American and helped my team win the national title, it was all a dream come true.”
Since turning pro, it hasn't always been easy. Torres has struggled with injury problems, including a stress fracture and bursitis in his hip. After chasing the issues for several months, a cortisone shot he received at the end of last year helped him feel better.
Now he has had several months of injury-free, 100 mile-per-week training, and the results are starting to show. He was the top American finisher (10th place) at the Falmouth Road Race in August, and placed 14th at the recent Philadelphia Distance Run half-marathon in 1:03:33.
Torres only decided to run the marathon back in June, but should he run his goal time of 2:12 and qualify for the Trials, the marathon will be his focus in 2007. Though his track times are solid, chances are he wouldn't be able to make the team in the 5,000 or 10,000.
“In a trial race, anything can happen, you hit that standard and you have a shot at qualifying,” he said, “but you don't want to gamble, you want to be at the right race, and you want to give yourself the best chance. The marathon is the equalizer and anything can happen.”
He believes the marathon provides him with the best chance given his combination of speed and endurance. While next year's Trials race might be the deepest in recent history, he just wants to put himself in the position where he can keep fulfilling his dreams.
“I want to represent this country as bad as anyone, and stand on the podium (at the Olympics) and listen to the national anthem,” he said. “I want to make the United States proud of its own people, and show everyone how this country is such a melting pot.”
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