Interview With Amy Hastings Following her 5th Place Finish at the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon
By: Cait Chock
Crossing the finish line of the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Amy Hastings celebrated. She was the top American, 5th overall, tied her PR in 2:27:03, and most importantly she was 'back!'
I'd talked with Amy prior to the race; she's been having an amazing year (Won the US Road Championships 10k/2nd at the US Road Championships 20k) nailing her workouts, and felt ready for a great race. Yet, the marathon is a tricky beast, there are many miles where surprises can creep up and in the end there are too many variables to take into account to make any prediction fully accurate. What marked this marathon as different, however, was consistency and how she approached her training. Working with Coach Ray Treacy, they solved some issues that caused her trouble in the 2013 New York City Marathon and kept her fully healthy this time around.
For the Brooks runner, much confidence came in crossing Chicago's finish line. She's back at her best and proved to herself she's capable of running with the top marathoners in the world.
1) Congrats! You said this was a relief, "You're back!" It's easy to take things for granted when you're at your best, but then just as easy to start getting doubtful and worried when things feel more like a struggle. Last year felt tough, but you pushed through, and have been having a great year here! Was there any particular turning point where you started to feel like things were clicking again?
Thank you! There are so many variables in running that can make things go wrong which makes it really important to enjoy the moments that go well. I don't think there was one point in which things clicked, it was a long, slow process. When I knew I wouldn't be able to compete in Boston, my coach, Ray Treacy, and I decided to take a step back and look long term at Chicago. That helped me focus on making each individual day go as well as possible instead of feeling like I was constantly playing catch up. Workouts and runs became more and more consistent over the months which really boosted my confidence. I am thrilled with how Chicago went but I am even more excited for the next two years. There are things I can still improve upon in training which will hopefully take my racing to another level.
2) Going into this race, can you tell us a little about your mindset. How were you able to push those 'worries/doubts' out of your mind and know you're right back at PR shape?
It was tough! Even though my training was going well and I had raced well at the shorter distances earlier in the year, doubts kept creeping into my mind because of my last marathon. Before New York last year, I actually had some better workouts than I had this year, but things started to unravel at the last minute. With Ray's help, we figured out what went wrong and made a few minor adjustments in training, which helped me be more consistent on a daily basis. That consistency helped my confidence slowly rise. I stopped trying to crush any one workout and just did exactly what I had down. Once I got to Chicago healthy, all of my nervous fears gradually turned into nervous excitement again. I knew I had made a big turning point in my training and this was just one step along the way.
3) Beforehand, it had been arranged for pacesetters but things changed and you found yourself leading early on. Can you talk about that and how were you feeling while taking the lead?
I'm pretty sure when I caught up to the lead pack later in the race I said to my pacer, Joe Moore, "I am so confused right now." All of the top women have run between 5-9 minutes faster than I ever have so I had mentally prepared for running most of the race on my own anyway. Early on in a marathon I try to keep my emotions even, no matter what, because in the end, no one cares about early on in a marathon. I knew I was doing what I needed to in order to have a good race so I just kept doing it. When I caught up to the lead pack later on, I got excited though. At that point I was still feeling pretty good and started to think about ways I could beat people instead of just doing my own thing. I thought my best odds were to kind of sneak away by picking it up just a little bit. Unfortunately, the second I picked it up was when my legs decided they had enough and also when the lead women decided to take off. So I was back to running on my own, fighting my own battles.
4) How were you feeling at half way?
5) You said there was a boost just knowing you were that close to these lead women, in the closing miles you really made a charge there. You said you were feeling pretty dead, (as one would expect at the end of a marathon!) but what were you thinking and telling yourself to keep pushing?
Yes! The last few miles killed, and at that point I was just racing the clock but I really wanted a PR. I was focusing on every single step. At the end I saw Birhane Dibaba on the hill and thought I might be able to catch her. I had all the motivation in the world the last 100 meters with someone to try and beat right in front of me and the clock turning over to 2:27, so I gave every last ounce of what I had in that kick but it wasn't enough to beat her or my PR. I gave it everything though, so I'm still happy.
Thank you very much, Amy, for taking the time to catch back up with me post-Chicago and am looking forward to cheering for you at your next race!
Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004. A freelance writer, artist, and designer she writes about all things running and founded Ezzere, her own line of running shirts (www.ezzere.com). You can read more, see her running comics, and her shirts at her website.