KEFLEZIGHI, FLANAGAN LEAVING NOTHING TO CHANCE IN OLYMPIC TRIALS TRAINING
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
-- With a month to go before the USA Olympic Marathon Trials in Los
Angeles, defending champions Meb Keflezighi and Shalane Flanagan are
leaving nothing to chance in their training, despite being the fastest
qualifiers for the February 13 race. Speaking to reporters today via
conference call, the two three-time Olympians said that they have their
heads down and are paying attention to every little detail in their
Keflezighi, 40, said that despite not being injured,
he was applying ice to his legs during the teleconference to keep away
any possible inflammation.
"The key is to my long career is the
small things make a big difference," said Keflezighi from his training
base at 2400 meters in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Confronted by generous
amounts of snow there he's been driving 90 miles round-trip to do his
main training in Bishop which, because of its lower altitude, has no
snow and warmer temperatures "The running part is the easy part," he
continued. "It's what you do the next 22 hours."
At an age
where most runners are in decline, Keflezighi's career has blossomed.
He earned an Olympic Marathon silver medal in 2004 in Athens, but after
fracturing his pelvis in the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials in New York
--a race made worse by the death of his training partner Ryan Shay from
heart failure-- Keflezighi struggled to get healthy before finally
bouncing back to win the 2009 TCS New York City Marathon. By doing so,
he became the first American man in 27 years to win that race since
Since then he's signed with a new primary
sponsor (Skechers) so he's been able to race sparingly, pick his spots,
and extend his career. He won the 2012 Trials in Houston in a then
personal best 2:09:08, then was a shocking fourth at the 2012 London
Olympics, coming from back in the field in the second half and nearly
getting another Olympic medal. Organizers didn't even introduce him on
the starting line, despite the fact that he was the only previous
Olympic Marathon medalist in the field.
He went on to win the
2014 Boston Marathon in an improbable solo run, setting a career best
time of 2:08:37 just days before his 39th birthday. That time makes him
the fastest qualifier for the Los Angeles Trials.
"Marathon is all about patience, discipline and commitment, and most importantly,
don't give up," Keflezighi said today, giving a well-rehearsed line.
Flanagan,34, will be looking for her fourth Olympic team berth, and her second
in the marathon. She comfortably won the 2012 Trials in Houston (in
only her second marathon), then finished ninth in the London Olympics,
just ahead of former training partner Kara Goucher. She admittedly
struggled in that race, which provided valuable lessons for her as an
athlete, lessons which have helped her stay focused on her training now.
"Every chance I just wanted to drop out," she admitted today of her London
Olympic race. "Marathons are great lessons and great teachers," she
continued. "I was really proud of my persevering through the race."
While still racing from time-to-time on the track, Flanagan has made the
marathon her central event. She was fourth at Boston in 2013, seventh
in 2014 in a blistering 2:22:02, then took a shot at Deena Kastor's
American record at the BMW Berlin Marathon in September, 2014. She ran
the tenth-fastest time in the world that year (2:21:14), but fell short
of Kastor's mark of 2:19:36. Flanagan's last marathon was a ninth place
finish at Boston last year, a race she considers her benchmark for
"When I look at courses, nothing is tougher than Boston," Flanagan observed.
"It's toughened me up and calloused me."
Flanagan,who now trains with Amy Cragg --the fourth place finisher from the 2012
Trials and the USA 10,000m champion from the same year-- said she's
very focused on the details of her training and that having Cragg to run
with is a big benefit.
"She is a great training partner,"
Flanagan said. "She's willing to share the workload equally." She
added: "I'm very very grateful to have her around."
Training with the Nike-sponsored Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Ore., Flanagan
says she is energized by a team environment. She enjoys not only
working out with a regular team, but also acting as a mentor for younger
athletes like IAAF World Championships bronze medalist Emily Infeld.
Cragg, who just recently joined the team, fits in perfectly."
"I find personally that I thrive on a team environment to share this
process with," she said. "I was very fortunate that Amy wanted to join
me on this journey." She continued: "I just find that I really enjoy
the friendship, the mentorship and I thrive on the accountability.
Overall I'll have a lot of great memories from this build up."
Both Keflezighi and Flanagan refused to call themselves "favorites" for next
month's Trails, and both were guarded with their comments about their
competitors. Keflezighi, who said that after all of the training is
done that the marathon itself is 90% mental and 10% physical, summed up
his rivals this way:
"This will be my 23rd marathon and I hope I
land on the podium," he said. He added: "When the gun goes off you you
never discount anybody."
PHOTO: Shalane Flanagan in the final meters of the 2014 Boston Marathon