Shalane Flanagan will go hunting for the U.S. women's marathon record on Sept. 28 in Berlin. "I have tiered goals," Flanagan said. "I want to run another PR. I want to break 2:20 – that's another big goal for women. And then the American record."
Flanagan, who trains with the Portland-based Bowerman Track Club, last was seen on a marathon course in April in Boston. She led the women's race for the first 19 miles before finishing seventh in 2 hours, 22 minutes, 2 seconds, a personal record. Deena Kastor has owned the U.S. record of 2:19:36 since 2006. Flanagan, 33, has that targeted, and she knows her window of opportunity is limited. "I'm getting older," she said. "I feel like if I want to go for one really fast marathon without something big on the line, if I want to give myself one shot to run on a fast course and run to my potential, I shouldn't wait too much longer." She and Bowerman Track Club coach Jerry Schumacher examined their options. They decided this fall was the optimum time and Berlin the optimum course.
"We think Berlin is one of the fastest, if not the fastest courses," Flanagan said. "There were too many variables with Chicago, and you would be gambling with the weather." Once Flanagan committed to Berlin, she began to rethink running the 10,000 meters in last month's USA Track & Field Championships. It would have compromised her training schedule for the marathon, which called for her to be at altitude then. "I had to pick," she said. "I could contend for a national championship or go for the American record in the marathon. It was tough. Sometimes you want to do it all."Flanagan wavered on the decision. Ultimately, Schumacher helped her decide to pull out of the USA Championships.
She did it with regret. Flanagan holds the U.S. record in the 10,000 of 30:22.22, which she set en route to the 2008 Olympic bronze medal. She won U.S. titles in the 10,000 in 2011 and 2013.She always has prided herself on her range and her ability to excel at a variety of distances, on the track and off. "I want to be versatile and show I'm still relevant on the track for Nike and for myself," she said. "I still want to do track stuff. But sometimes you're forcing it and asking too much of your body."
Flanagan hopes to return to the track for the 2015 USA Championships. But it's not a sure thing, especially if she runs the Boston Marathon or another spring marathon. "It's a quick turnaround and it sure isn't easy to get some rest and then get your legs back under you," she said. "There is a reason that not a lot of people do it."
28. July 2014
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