The .US National Road Racing Championships (results) were held back on November 17th in Alexandria, VA and several athletes with local ties did quite well there. A couple of them even did better than anybody had before. Ever.
Both Molly Huddle and Shalane Flanagan went under the 12k world record. Although Shalane was pushing the pace early it would be Molly who came out on top, running 37:49 compared to Shalane’s 37:57. It was a little confusing as to what record was broken and who held it, since some articles seemed to say American record, others that it was a world best. That led me to believe that Kastor held the world record, but she didn’t. Here is the nitty gritty:
Old world record: Lineth Chepkurui 38:10
Old American record: Deena Kastor 38:24
There’s a good piece over at Competitor (by David Monti) that explains it and summarizes the race.
The triple points earned in this race were enough to propel both Molly and Shalane past Mattie Suver, who had a strong grip on the top spot, for the season standings. was named the USATF athlete of the week. Huddle and Flanagan finished 1-2 with 60 and 51 points, respectively, while Suver dropped to third with 47 points. As if the week couldn’t get any better for Huddle, she was named the USATF Athlete of the Week.
A couple of other locals placed in the standings as well: Katie DiCamillo finished tied for 19th for the year with her 16 points, followed by Katie Matthews and Sheri Piers, who both scored 6 points and ended up tied for 39th place.
Speaking of Matthews, she did quite well at the 12k to wrap up the circuit. Katie finished 10th in 40:22 and was the youngest finisher in the top 20. Matthews responded to a couple of Level questions after the race:
Having debuted in the half not too long ago, did you have more confidence about your strength going into this 12k?
“I did have confidence regarding strength going in to the 12k after running the half marathon. The half marathon was so new for me though that I figured I would feel more comfortable in the 12k than I did in that half.”
How did things play out over the last couple of miles?
“In the last few miles the chase pack that I was with sort of strung out and I ended up being almost alone between the women, which made it tough. Dealing with being alone like that and still pushing when the race is at it’s hardest part is something that I need to work on. I think I lost track of my pace and let it slip a little more than I should have. Those miles are when I need to be picking up the pace and not slacking off!”
In the men’s race, it was Aaron Braun taking it in 34:27. Tim Ritchie continued to assert his presence at the front of these elite fields with another strong race, this time running 34:45 and finishing 6th. Tim went on the Level after and answered a couple of questions:
Not too much time between TCM and .US. For mere mortals that might not be enough time to recovery. Were you still feeling the marathon in your legs for this one?
“I had six weeks in between TCM and .US and had this 12k as the goal race all throughout the second half of the year. Therefore, the marathon was more of a step (granted a big step) along the way. That being the case, the approach to TCM was patient and controlled. In training, I was not going overboard so as to not be wiped out by the race, or unable to recover in time for the 12k, and in racing, I was relaxed and consistent throughout. Both of these were done consciously knowing that my season still had six weeks left. The course at TCM was favorable for recovery with minimal downhill and relative flat terrain for the first 20 miles. In the race I was able to run pretty even splits, negative splitting the second half. I think both the course layout and the whole ‘not-bonking’ thing really played well into the recovery. Had I gone into Twin Cities with the goal of winning or really tearing it up, I do not think I would have been able to bounce back as quickly. I took two weeks of light running after the marathon, followed by three weeks of normal mileage with a workout or two per week. In this last week, I rested up and cut things down to prep for the race on Sunday. I do not think I still had the marathon in my legs and I was ready on Sunday to give it my best.”
As you’ve said before, it usually comes down to one late move in these races. How were you able to respond this time?
“This race was controlled the whole way by eventual winner Aaron Braun. He took the pace early and kept inching it up the whole way. There was a big move at 5 miles or so which separated the top 4 from everyone else – I was in 5th at that point. As that group pulled away, I towed along another 5 runners or so until most of them passed me in the 11th kilometer. Finding myself in a disappointing 9th with 600m to go I knew I had to dig really deep. I began a lengthy kick which put me back up into 5th before finally being beaten out to take 6th in the last 30m. It was tough to see the top 4 and the win disappear at 8k and hindsight always makes you wonder if you could have stuck with it. At this point, I think that reflection is not going to get me anywhere, so all I can do is look forward. Though I wanted the podium, I was pleased with 6th, it was consistent with my performances all year on the USA Running Circuit. The year 2013 was the year of scoring points. I hope 2014 will be the year of winning races!”
If Tim’s answers don’t motivate you, then you might want to consider taking up another sport. I’m finding it hard to resist the urge to go out and do a tempo run right now. How can you not root for a guy like that?
Tim wasn’t the only member of Level Legion to run well that day. Pat Fullerton ran a 37:09 and finished in 19th place. Abdi Abdirahman finished in 23rd, so although Pat wasn’t up with the leaders he still got a scalp. It looks like Abdi had an off day, to say the least, but you still have to be in pretty good shape to get a guy like Abdi even when he’s not at his best.
For the year, Tim finished in 5th place with 47 points. Other notable guys with local ties: Ben True (11th), Chris Barnicle (39th), Pat Fullerton (43rd), Zach Hine (47th) and Brian Gagnon (54th). Overall it was Shadrock Biwott, with the help of the 12k triple points, coming in ahead of Matt Tegenkamp by a score of 88 to 69.