Rachel Schilkowsky is the defending USATF-NE Grand Prix series champ, so it caught my eye when I saw back in February that she opted to compete in the half marathon at Hyannis on the same day the 2017 series kicked off with a 10 miler in Amherst.
Rachel’s absence certainly had nothing to do with a lack of fitness; the fact that she qualified for the USATF Indoor Nationals clearly showed she’s ready to roll. This was originally supposed to publish before she competed there but since that obviously didn’t happen we can now say that she ran a 10:46.2 in the 2 mile in Albuquerque (finished 7th!).
We also knew that Rachel was gearing up for the Gate River Run in FL, which is the 15k national championship. At the aforementioned Hyannis Half, Rachel was the 2nd woman (and 12th overall with her 1:16:27) in an unexpectedly competitive race. So Rachel was fit and looking to compete at a high level, and we wanted to know more. Here’s our mini-interview with the rabbit runner:
So you’re really gearing up for the Gate River Run, right? I’m guessing Hyannis was a tune up for that? Saw that you (and a few other elites) opted to go to Hyannis instead of the 10 mile championships. What made you pick the half?
“Thanks. I had a fun time with the race. I was just there for the experience really what with Gate River being my focus. I’m feeling very ready for that one! As for Hyannis, I choose to do that one over Amherst for a number of reasons. I wanted it to be my last big workout, and I thought I’d be better able to be controlled in a race that was a championship (I didn’t trust myself to not get too competitive ☺️) I steady stated the first 8 miles (5:53 pace) and then tempoed the last 5 (5:39 pace). Hyannis also had better prize money (I was thinking maybe I could snag the $1000 for the win, but I was not expecting Lindsey Flanagan to be there!)
“I’m also no longer on the Heartbreakers, so I didn’t feel obligated to run for the team. To be completely honest, I actually don’t think I’m going to be running any of the series races this year. I was pretty unhappy with the schedule that was picked. Running those 4 races last fall to win the series completely killed me, and I ran horribly at the USATF Championships in October as a result. The 10 mile, half and 15k being all within 5 weeks of each other is absolutely ridiculous. Its not worth it for me to race them if it’s going to burn me out and jeopardize my ability to compete well at national level races.
“Also, not that it’s all about the money, but some of the individual series races don’t offer much prize money at all. It would be worth it to go and get the points for the series, but winning the series offers even less. I have yet to receive anything for winning the series last year, but Lou told me that in 2015 he got $100 for winning the series. I treat running basically like a part-time job, and for how much time and effort it takes the win the series, a $100 payday just isn’t worth it for me.”
Editor’s Note: Rachel’s concerns about the series are shared by many runners out there, and it is one of the many points on the topic that stirs great debate. The start to this year’s series is difficult, especially for someone who isn’t gearing up for a spring marathon. For those using the races to build into that big goal race the schedule makes sense. For people going all out (or close to it) with shorter distance goals on their mind, the series as is (especially this early portion) might not be a good fit.
“I would also just include me saying that I do like the underlying concept on the series, and I that I really liked going to the races themselves. There was a real sense of community with all the competitors. It reminded me a little of competing in college, where you saw the same people again and again at conference. I would love to do the series again in the future if it makes logistical and financial sense for me.”
And that Gate River Run that Rachel was gearing up for? She only ran a 52:23 for 15k, good enough for 13th place! Rachel even won her age group (20-24). The future is looking pretty bright for the 24 yr old rabbit runner.