The Art of Racing, with Jenny Simpson: Cathal Dennehy explains why Jenny Simpson is such a fine racer

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RunBlogRun opines: As Sifan Hassan and Faith Kipyegon went into their own battle of the stars with 250 meters to go in London, Jenny Simpson had other thoughts. She thought one might not stay at that pace, and bidded her time. Simpson was right, and she was rewarded with a silver WC medal, giving her four medals in global competitions in her storied career.

Simpson_Jenny-WC17.JPGJenny Simpson, photo by PhotoRun.net

As Jenny Simpson ends her season, with the NB Fifth Avenue mile, Cathal Denney caught up with her on her NB presser to discus that unique racing savy.

I recall the New Balance announcement in 2010 that NB had sponsored Jenny Simpson. Many so called experts thought NB had over stretched the New England brand's boundaries. Looking back over this past 8 years, I think New Balance got amazing return for their investment.

Between Jenny Simpson, Emma Coburn and Brenda Martinez, they have three of the finest American distance runners in decades and another generation on the rise.

It must be the shoes.

Please enjoy this fine piece on America's finest women middle distance racer, Jenny Simpson, by Cathal Dennehy, a long time writer for the IAAF and RunBlogRun. We are fortunate to work with him.

The Art of Racing, with Jenny Simpson, by Cathal Dennehy

In all professions, the validation sought most keenly is usually not from friends, family or the general public, but from peers - the ones who move in the same circles and understand best the toil required to reach the top.

For many years, Jenny Simpson has been a model professional for younger athletes - a smart, savvy professional - and earlier this week one of her fellow elites highlighted the under-rated genius of her racing brain.

In an interview with Letsrun.com, two-time Olympic 1500m medallist Nick Willis broke down the recent women's 1500m final in London, highlighting how Simpson, in dispensing her energy wisely over the final lap, achieved the best possible finishing position and earned a silver medal behind Kenya's Faith Kipyegon.

"If you watch Jenny Simpson's race, she wasn't able to cover the move with 250 to go because she knew her own limits," said Willis. "But because of that, she also made sure that she had a steady drive to the finish line, which is what got her back into the medal position. I really applauded her effort."

On Thursday in New York, speaking ahead of Sunday's 5th Avenue Mile, Simpson was appreciative of his validation.

"Nick is someone I have an enormous amount of respect for," she said. "I can't think of a higher compliment from someone to comment on my racing. He knows better than anyone what it takes."

After a slow first half in London, Simpson positioned herself behind race favourites Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan in the 1500m final as the pair cranked up the pace with a lap to run, though when she entered the back stretch for the final time, she can recall making a calculated decision not to chase the leaders.

"Faith went hard and Hassan went with her, and I remember feeling their energy as they stretched out beyond me and thinking: 'I don't think they can keep that up,'" said Simpson.

"I'm proud of my ability to sense that and also be right because sometimes you sense those things and you're not right. I didn't go with the pace on the back stretch, held back a little bit, trusted that I'd be able to rise to another level in the last 100 and I'm really fortunate that it worked out."

While Kipyegon held on to take gold, Hassan faded badly in the home straight, with Simpson making a daring run up the inside to charge past both her and Britain's Laura Muir to take silver.

For as long as she can remember, the home straight has had a strange effect on Simpson.

"Coming off the bend is always such a rush, something about seeing that finish line brings something out of me that I can't ever quite repeat in practice or repeat in other laps of the race," she said. "It always takes me to another level."

To finish that strong is not just a product of smart running in the final itself, but of how Simpson handles herself through the rounds of the event.

"You can't understand the last 100 unless you understand the structure of the rounds and racing over four or five days," she said. "Getting through the rounds takes a certain amount of wit, and I try to exercise that as I'm going through, learning how to compartmentalize the race while keeping something for the next round. I have to give a lot of credit to my NCAA experiences as it gave me an early opportunity to practice those skills."

Simpson will re-apply those skills when she charges down 5th Avenue on Sunday afternoon, where she will be seeking her sixth title in the traditional end-of-season race for milers.

"Running on the roads is definitely different, but what's most different is that the mile is a straight line here so knowing how to gauge that is really different," she said.

"Having some awareness and experience helps me. As you climb to the highest part of the course, when you get to the peak of that hill, it's insignificant but you feel it in your legs, and then the second half is such a great experience of fan participation reaching a crescendo. The noise of the cheering really begins to build to what is a massive cheering crowd at the finish."

Simpson will take on a typically strong international field which includes Brenda Martinez, Colleen Quigley, Laura Weightman, Genevieve LaCaze, and London steeplechase 1-2 Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs.

"I'll cross the line and I'm not even going to cool down," said Simpson. "This so by far the last race of 2017. I'm looking forward to that. It's always part of the fun, knowing it's the last stretch before you get to turn the page and celebrate."

After another memorable year for the 31-year-old, there would be no more fitting conclusion than to outsmart - and out-kick - her competitors one final time.

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