As a blogger at Hammer and Rails I get to take certain indulgences when I write. Sure, I was able to get some answers from a man who just finished 17th in the Boston Marathon, but how does this relate to me? Well, because I used to run against Tate Schienbein. To give a brief set-up for this interview let me set the scene. I’m 32 years old, he is 24. Back in the early to mid 2000’s I would compete in the Liberty Freedom Run around July 4th. It’s a 4.7 mile race with rolling hills throughout that takes place in Liberty, Indiana. It’s a great race and a good way to get out with friends on family on a day mostly dedicated to blowing stuff up and eating.
I can’t remember the exact year that Tate started showing up but I’m eight years older than him and I thought I was a pretty darn good runner. It must have been when I was around 18 or so years old (give or take a year) and I saw this kid who was 10 years old toeing the line at the front of the pack. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he had much of a chance. Turns out, he was good and I barely beat him. Maybe 1-2 more times was I able to best him but after that I was getting trounced by a 12 year old and it wasn’t even close. This kid was special. With that in mind, I was lucky enough to have him answer some questions about his experience at Purdue and at the Boston Marathon, plus we talked donuts which is always a good thing. The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity.
H&R: Where did that desire and love of running come from?
Tate: My mother was a runner and as I was growing up I saw how much she enjoyed it and I wanted to give it a try at some local fun runs or 5ks. She, being a track coach and avid runner herself, was quick to allow me to participate in a sport that had been a big part of her life growing up. I think I just genuinely enjoyed racing and competing against other runners.
H&R: What made you choose Purdue instead of that evil University down south? What was the recruitment process like for a guy with your talent?
Tate: Purdue wound up being my number one choice for a few reasons. Out of all of the schools I was looking at, Purdue was going to help me succeed the most after graduating, because I knew my legs couldn’t pay the bills. I knew that I had a chance to come in and make an immediate impact on the team and it was reasonably close to home. The coach that recruited me made me feel that I could have an impact and get a great education while running. I actually never got to run for him as he took the distance job at Illinois, but we still remain close friends to this day. I also visited IU, Butler, Syracuse, and Northern Arizona, using up all of my official visits, and Purdue just seemed like the best fit, and it was.
H&R: What was your PR in the marathon prior to Boston and how many had you run prior?
Tate: I had run 1 marathon prior, to qualify. Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November of 2016. Time: 2:25:26 (in perfect conditions).
H&R: Before we get into it too deep, with the terrible conditions during the marathon, what were your expectations?
Tate: When I saw the weather a week out I was hoping it would change, it never did. 39 degrees, 25-35 mph headwind, and pouring rain. Times were out the door, and it was all about competing at that point. I Never knew what place I was in until 15 minutes after the finish. I was thinking on a great day I could be top 25 American, and I think I wound up 11th American.
Coming into Boston I didn’t have too high of expectations. With opening the business and running it, it is very hard to find time to dedicate to training. I was able to run about 4-6 days a week and average 40-45 miles a week in my buildup, but if you know anything about serious marathoners, they are running anywhere from 90-120 miles a week. I was just hoping to finish knowing I didn’t give up mentally.
H&R: Is it true you’ve only been running four days a week in between donut making time? Related question, how many donuts do you eat in a given week?
Tate: Yes, there have been a few weeks where I was able to only run 2-4 times a week and a few where I ran 6 days a week. I just tried to make sure I got 1 workout in and 1 long run. Anywhere from 5-10 donuts a week, some weeks like 15-20 haha!
H&R: Did you have any runner celebrity encounters at Boston you’d like to share?
Tate: I didn’t meet anyone super famous in Boston but I did win a contest with one of the local running shops. Tracksmith had this contest for the first person to run to their store after finishing the marathon and that person won a one of a kind robe, and after that race that’s all I wanted. I actually think the 3/4 of a mile to the shop was faster than my last mile of the race. But as I charged into the store I was met with over 100 people cheering me on and a celebratory beer for being the first one back.
H&R: Do you intend to continue to train and compete in high level events like Boston going forward? It seems like if you run every day and don’t eat dozens of donuts you might be pretty good at this whole running thing. Totally kidding.
Tate: Hahaha yes! Going to continue until I lose the fire! I have a few races this summer and gearing up for the Berlin Marathon in September with the ultimate goal of hitting an Olympic qualifying time and competing in the Olympic trials for 2020.
H&R: So, you’re a local Indiana boy from Union County who has made good by going to the great Purdue University and then started your own business in the Discount Den. How did Hammer Donuts come to be?
Tate: HD was born out of Brothers Bar and Grill the summer after I graduated in 2016. It was a drunken conversation, but when we woke up the next morning, it still sounded like a great idea so we ran with it. It took about a year to get everything in place in terms of location, recipe, financing, but we were able to open in August of 2017.
H&R: With Hammer Donuts what’s the long term plan? Is this something you’d like to continue to grow and stick with for years and years down the road?
Tate: We are hoping as business grows that we can get our own location and introduce more product offerings. We are looking at ways we can better cater to the college crowd while at the same time have a family feel to the store. Of course we are looking far down the road at all times because I think you have to have a rough idea/plan but we are focused on the now and not looking much more than a couple months down the road. We just know we still have a lot of work to do and want to get our product out to more people in the greater Lafayette area.
So there you have it. When the Olympic trials come around for 2020 I’d recommend keeping an eye on Tate Schienbein. It’s always good to have a Boilermaker out there competing for the USA. As far as the donuts go you can’t go wrong with the cake donuts and also the cinnamon roll donut is pretty good. Each time I’m back in Indiana I plan to hop back in and try a new creation.