For years the long run has stood as my favorite training day and a staple of my training diet. When my teammates and I come to Flagstaff for altitude camp, there is one run in particular that I always look forward to. It is relentlessly rolling, beginning with a climb, and as you crest that first hill you can see the dirt road stretching before you with new hills awaiting one after another. On and on you run, and in some stretches, every time you reach the top of one hill you find yourself staring at the next one. I love the challenge and rhythm of that run, using the momentum I gain coming down a hill to carry me into the next. While there are many hard moments, I enjoy the task of feeling like I can never really settle but instead must segment and attack the run from one hill to the next all the way through to the end.
After my many indirect, and sometimes direct, hints in recent years about racing the marathon, when Drew suggested that 2016 could be the year I made my debut I initially had some reservations. In an Olympic year I felt that I should have a single-minded focus dedicated solely to the US Trials and my quest to qualify for Team USA for a second time. I didn’t know if it was appropriate to have major plans or goals beyond the Olympic Games. After much thought and consultation with various members of my support team I came to realize that it was both appropriate and healthy to have a vision for what follows the Olympics. In the sport of track & field we operate in four year cycles as the high points for professional distance runners, but I now realize that when these moments pass it’s time to seek and embrace the next undertaking. Much like the Beaver Creek long run, in a running career or life in general, when you reach the top of one summit there is always another just ahead to embark upon.
In my heart I have been training for the marathon for years and have known that a move to that distance was imminent. The TCS New York City Marathon has always held great appeal due to the challenge, quality and rich tradition that it represents. This year in particular excites me with the depth and talent of the American field being assembled. While my immediate focus remains on representing Team USA in three weeks time, we have structured training throughout this entire year with the intention of racing a fall marathon. For months I have found myself at the end of long runs daydreaming of entering Central Park on November 6th. Nevertheless, for the time being I will enjoy these weeks on the track and the honor of putting on the US singlet before turning my full attention to the remainder of my marathon build up. In a month’s time I will be back in Flagstaff and no doubt logging many miles over the rolling terrain at Beaver Creek.