Shannon Rowbury gets Altitude, Warmth and Family in Mexico, by Sabrina Yohannes

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Rowbury_Shannon-Millrose17.jpGShannon Rowbury, Millrose Games, photo by PhotoRun.net

Here is a fine piece by Sabrina Yohannes on Shannon Rowbury, AR at 1,500 meters and 5000 meters. This piece is on Shannon's training in Mexico and her plans for the upcoming year.

Shannon Rowbury Gets Altitude, Warmth and Family in Mexico

By Sabrina Yohannes

Like many other runners from northern locales fleeing cold weather and heading to domestic and international training destinations, the Oregon resident Shannon Rowbury was working out much farther south during the winter, in Mexico, the country of her husband, the former regional NACAC championships gold medalist and Rice University alum Pablo Solares.

The world indoor 3000m bronze medalist Rowbury spoke to RunBlogRun at the NYRR Millrose Games in New York about her winter trips to Mexico, improving her Spanish language skills and her indoor season.

Outdoors last year, the former world 1500m bronze medalist Rowbury set an American (and regional) record of 14:38.92 for 5000m to go with the 3:56.29 record she set for 1500m in 2015; and she finished just outside the medals in the Rio Olympic 1500m.

In 2017, she ran indoor personal bests of 8:41.94 for 3000m in Boston and 4:04.56 for 1500m enroute to a mile finish in New York. Rowbury said at Millrose that she would re-evaluate closer to the March 3-5 dates, but she was considering going for the same mile and two-mile win at the 2017 indoor nationals in Albuquerque, NM, that she achieved in 2015. (Editor's note: Shannon ran on Februry 18, a 3000m, in Birmingham, England, finishing eighth in 8:45.48. She noted, after the race, she was not feeling well.)

RunBlogRun: Which distance are you most comfortable with?

Shannon Rowbury: I probably have the most experience in the 1500 right now, so I think that one, I have a pretty good sense of how to get the most out of myself.

Of course, each season, it's sort of a re-learning experience because after the training that you put in, when it comes to racing, sometimes you bring in new assets to the competition. Some years, you're stronger, some years you're faster, so there's always that sort of exploratory period.

RBR: Which assets do you feel you're bringing in the best now?

SR: I feel very strong. I had a good training full stint in altitude in Mexico, but my speed has been coming along well also. It's always tough to gauge in the indoor season because it's just so much more compact versus outdoors. I'll start racing in late May or early June, but then I have six weeks or something, sometimes two months, to be ready at that world championships.

With indoors, I started racing [January 28] and my season will end early March. ... I like having the indoor season to sort of get a gauge of where I'm at, because ultimately, the top priority is outdoors.

RBR: What did your first indoor race, at the Boston New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, tell you?

SR: Two women beat me, they're top women, [Rio medalist Hellen] Obiri and [world indoor champion] Sifan Hassan, so it's not like I was beaten by slouches, but I did come in third. I was pleased with how I closed. The first K was very slow, but the last 2K was about 8:30 pace equivalent, and I felt very strong coming out of that race.

On placing third in 4:23.05 behind Hassan and U.S. Olympian Kate Grace at the February Millrose NYRR Wanamaker Mile:

SR: It was a good field of women, I knew it would be a hard race and even though we went out slow, I was trying to work over the end to see if I could get under 4:20 but I just ran out of steam. ... The last maybe 100, 150, I could just feel that I didn't have the same reserves that I would normally be able to pull on.

RBR: Where in Mexico were you training?

SR: Mexico City. My husband is from Mexico City. This is the third year we've gone, and this year, we spent Christmas in the States but New Year's with his family. His family lives all over the world, so we try to come together for the holidays so he can see his family. And then we stay longer, to do altitude training.

RBR: Is he still running?

SR: He runs with me; he helps me. When we're in Mexico City, he helps me with the workouts. He's not competing anymore, but luckily, he's kind enough to help me with training.

RBR: How's your Spanish?

SR: It's getting a lot better. I had a Spanish teacher that would work with me while I was in Mexico. I didn't study Spanish until we started dating, but I found a teacher to work with me in Mexico, and I'm at the intermediate level, so I can get by pretty well, and I'm continuing the classes.

Our goal is to have bi-lingual children. Our children - our future children, God willing - will be half American, half Mexican, and we're both very proud of that. Mexico is a beautiful country with really kind, welcoming people, and I really enjoy spending time there, so it's fun speaking the language, because I feel it opens up a whole new world to me, being able to speak with the people in Mexico and learn more.

RBR: So you're getting family and also altitude and sun there.

SR: Yeah, it's about 7500 feet elevation, about 70 degrees and sunny. I had a friend who came with me a year ago who is from Eritrea, [Bolota Asmerom, the native Eritrean 2004 U.S. nationals third-placer] and he said it reminded him of training up in Ethiopia. So I think more people probably have done altitude training in Ethiopia than in Mexico City, but it's very similar.

RBR: Do you stay in Mexico City? And where do you train?

SR: Yeah, we stay in a neighborhood called Polanco. We do our easy runs in Chapultepec Park and some of the circuits around there, like jogging circuits; and then track sessions at a couple tracks: one's El Polillo and one is the Olympic Center.

RBR: And for the outdoor season, what are your goals, dreams, expectations?

SR: World champs in London. I'm really excited to go back to the Olympic stadium and race there, and try to come home with a win or come home with a medal.

And then we'll see how the season plays out. I'd like to continue to improve my PRs in whatever events present themselves. I've been very pleased with the progression I've had in my performances. I'm really proud of the times that I've put out there, but I'd love to make them even stronger.

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