Q&A WITH GALEN RUPP AHEAD OF VOLKSWAGEN PRAGUE MARATHON
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2018 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(04-May) — Two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp of the United States will run Sunday’s Volkswagen Prague Marathon 20 days after dropping out of the Boston Marathon suffering from asthma and hypothermia. This will be Rupp’s sixth marathon start since his debut at the 2016 USA Olympic Trials in Los Angeles where he won in 2:11:13 in hot and sunny conditions. Since then he’s placed third at the 2016 Rio Olympic Marathon (2:10:05), second at the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:09:58), and first at the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon (2:09:20). He spoke to Race Results Weekly by telephone from Prague.
Race Results Weekly: Let’s briefly go back to your race in Boston. What happened there?
Galen Rupp: Like I said, it was problems with my asthma. Obviously, I was a little hypothermic, too; everybody was dealing with that. The weather was really, like… It was just a rough day for me. I was disappointed, but I’m real thankful I have an opportunity to run here, especially just given all the hard work and lot of training I had done. You put so much into any marathon, months of a lot of sacrifice and hard work. So, it was definitely real disappointing to kind of, like, seem to go to waste, to have the race that I did at Boston. I’m real happy, thankful and excited to have the opportunity here, to get another chance to run and see how all that training I did kind of translates into a race.
RRW: Where did you actually get off the course in Boston (his last official split was taken at 30 km/18.6 miles when he was in ninth position)?
GR: I don’t even know. It was around the 19-mile mark.
RRW: Is that farther than you thought you were even going to get that day given the conditions and your asthma?
GR: I was expecting to finish. The weather, obviously, is not something you can control. Everybody had to deal with it. So, I actually was looking forward to it. I felt like I’ve always done a good job of running in tough conditions before and in other marathons I’ve done, and thrived from that. My body just couldn’t take it there in Boston. I was disappointed, but never went into it thinking, worrying about finishing, or worrying about how far I was going to make it. I tried to hang in there, stay relaxed and stay positive. You know, when you’re in a situation like that, that’s what I tried to do. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t make it to the finish line.
RRW: Turning around from one marathon that went badly to reboot for another just a short time later is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. How did you get into the right mindset to race again?
GR: You give yourself a couple of days to get over that disappointment and frustration. Obviously, it’s normal to feel that way because so much goes into preparing for a race. When it doesn’t go well, and you have some freak thing like that happen, it’s certainly disappointing and frustrating. But, you can’t dwell on it. You know, I was ready to get back to work as soon as I got back. The good thing about it is that it was really no different than doing a hard long run in training. That’s the way that I looked at it. I was going to be certainly tired, but it was more mental than physical. I think getting back home to Portland right after Boston, I just had to make sure that my mind was right. Physically, I was not worried about recovery at all. Three weeks is plenty of time to get back. I actually got some good training in. So, I kind of looked at it as doing a hard long run. I actually thought back to the Olympics as well where I ran a 10-K (Rupp ran the 10,000m on August 13 and placed fifth before running the marathon on August 21 and placing third). That was definitely disappointing, too, from what I had hoped for. I had to come back eight days later and run a marathon then, so this is even a longer turnaround. It (Boston) wasn’t even as taxing physically as what I did there. I’m certainly feeling I’m ready to come back ready to go for this race.
RRW: When did you make the decision that you wanted to do Prague?
GR: I can’t remember when the announcement was made that we were going there. I think it was probably around last Friday. I’m just glad it worked out. I’m certainly fortunate, and feel lucky that I kind of get a second chance at it.
RRW: You’ve only run in championships, and championships-style, marathons so far and never in a paced race. Are you excited about the chance to go for a fast time in a paced race?
GR: I’m real excited about the opportunity to get into a paced race. I love championships-style racing. It’s really important just looking at the perspective from the Olympics. It’s important that you learn how to run in those types of situations because you’re not going to get pacers at an Olympic Games, Olympic Trials or anything like that. But, at the same time, I’ve certainly always wanted to get into a faster race and a paced race. This is shaping up really well. The weather is supposed to be pretty good on Sunday (about 16C/61F at race time). That’s something else that’s kind of been something with marathons I’ve run. It’s been less-than-ideal weather conditions which, again, you can’t control. But, if you’re really trying to run fast you kind of need the weather to cooperate. It plays such a big part in the distance. I think this is really working out nicely for a great race, between the course, the weather, and the competition, too. You’ve got some guys who’ve run really fast, so I’m certainly hoping to lower my personal best (currently 2:09:20). I feel like I’m in good shape to do it.
RRW: The American record for the marathon is 2:05:38 by Khalid Khannouchi from London back in 2002. Do you have that record on your mind?
GR: I’ll probably just see how the race plays out, this one. I think that given that I’m coming out of a rough race in Boston that I don’t want to put too much emphasis on any certain time. But, I’d certainly like to lower my personal best by a good amount. Again, I think I’m in really good shape to do that.
RRW: You’re America’s most accomplished 10,000m runner (USA record of 26:44.36 and a record eight national titles). Now that you’re a marathon runner, are you completely done with the track? Will you put in a track season this summer or even next year?
GR: You know, I always love running on the track. I never want to say, like, I’m done. I’m sure I’ll run another track race, at least another one. It’s kind of a long ways away, but I think that it’s still important to keep some of that track speed. Obviously, I don’t need all of it now that I’m focusing on the marathon. But, I certainly think that I’ll run some more track races in the future just kind of as a matter of how it fits in with relation to my training, and what marathon I’m getting ready for. I do think it’s important, again, to keep that speed. I think it really helps in a marathon being able to relax at a marathon pace. So, I’m sure I’ll run another track race. I really haven’t given it too much thought at this point, but I definitely wouldn’t say that I’m done on the track.
PHOTO: Galen Rupp winning the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a personal best 2:09:20 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)