Meb and Shalane were the highlights of the one month out press conference. Tracey Russell and her team are working hard to put all of the pieces in place. Dealing with the USOC, sponsors and putting on two marathons in two days is a once in a lifetime task, one hopes.
The dealing with protocals for an Olympic Trials do strange things to people. Some consider a monastery afterwards, some take up drinking.
The following piece is by Carolyn Mather, of Racing South, one of our favorite correspondents. We hope you enjoy it.
ONE MONTH OUT FROM THE OLYMPIC TRIALS MARATHON
With February 13,2016 a month away, three time Olympians Meb Keflezhi and Shalane Flanagan took center stage for a media event this afternoon.
Tracey Russell, Chief Executive, LA MARATHON LLC introduced the two well known names in distance running and stated "that as of today there are 435 total qualifiers, the most ever for an Olympic Trials marathon."
Of the 435, 353 have registered for the event and have until 1/31 to do so.
There are 155 men registered and 198 women. She reported that the trials will be televised live on NBC at 1pm EST. The men's race will kick off at 10:06am PDT followed by the women at 10:22am. She pointed out that LA is becoming the epicenter for sports and that this event will be free and lots of family fun as the runners run the multi loop course through downtown Los Angeles.
More information on activities can be found at latrials2016.com.
The interview kicked off with Meb talking about the resurgence of his career with his 4th place finish at the London Olympics then his Boston win. He credited his longevity with doing all the small things to stay healthy. From stretching, to drills, to icing, to nutrition, he is committed and focused on his career. He is back in Mammoth for five weeks to train at altitude away from is three daughters and wife, but with his ever present mentor and coach Bob Larson.
Meb concentrates on recovery and uses visualization to get himself prepared for the big day.He is dealing with the massive amount of snow in Mammoth by training high then driving 40 miles to Bishop to get clear trails and soft surfaces. He usually does his second run on the treadmill to avoid all of the snow.
Shalane also emphasized doing all the little things. She said she was very well prepared in 2012 and her only marathon win was the trials in 2012. She is currently training with 4th place 2012 trials finisher Amy Cragg and said she thrives on a team environment. Shalane and Amy are friends who share the training load by helping each other and bringing confidence to each other. Her transition to training with Amy was seamless.
Flanagan and Cragg are both demanding and meticulous and affirm each other and have a good positive attitude. Amy's husband Alistair states that Shalane is the most focused athlete he has ever met. Shalane explains this is high compliment but she takes no short cuts and no sloppiness in her training.
Shalane said she may be a bit intense, but when she is training it is 100% about racing. She keeps her focus and passion and the ladies even skipped the holidays to stay and train in Portland.
Shalane ran the trials course this past weekend so it is fresh in her memory. She said it is strategic, with many turns but very spectator friendly. She said it is definitely technical and the USC portion out the farthest point is her favorite part of the course. I can imagine thousands of students out cheering on race day.
Meb would not name specific competitors but stated that debut marathoners are an unknown but there are 6-7 seasoned guys who will be ready on race day. This will be Meb's 23rd marathon.
Both runners hope for a temperature on race day of 40-50 degrees so it will be a race of honesty unhampered by weather conditions. They both hope for conditions that will let each competitor run their best.
To date Meb's hardest workout has been his standard hard 14 mile tempo at altitude while Shalane and Amy did a progressive 28 mile, three hour run. Shalane stated that the next two weeks are the most crucial portion of her training. Come race day she and Amy will work together but it is ultimately each woman on her own.
Focusing on the mental aspect of racing both do alot of visualization but Meb repeated what Uta Pippig taught me over 25 years ago. The key to success is the training and that is 90% physical and 10% mental but when the gun goes off it is 90% mental. On race day you are as ready as you can be but the mental aspect is what makes a winner.The mental is essential to making the team. Shalane and Meb have learned many lessons from Boston and they both admit that you must fight to the end no matter how bad it gets. Meb quipped the faster you get there the sooner the pain is done.
Although Shalane acknowledged her competitors as Desi, Amy, Kara and Deanna, she acknowledged that there are 6-7 ladies who have put it all out there and they are the scariest because their desire may create a breakthrough experience. She knows that there are others who have her 100% total commitment.
Both seemed very focused, passionate and delighted to be in the favorite position. It is a great position to be given. Having known both runners for many years I am willing to bet they will be ready to take their best game to the streets of Los Angeles.
It should be awesome and riveting!!