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NYRR Mini Helps Olympians Prep For Olympic State - RRW

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/RoadRacing   Jun 8th 2012, 10:47am

By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved - used with permission.

NEW YORK (08-Jun) -- Although the London Olympics are nearly two months away, a preview of sorts of the women's Olympic Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, August 5, will play out here in Central Park on Saturday.  Seven women destined for the Olympic Marathon will contest the 41st edition of the NYRR Mini 10-K in a significant test of their Olympic preparations.

Although all of these seven women here have earned spots on the starting line in London, one in particular will have a large spotlight shining extra bright on her small frame.  Kenya's Edna Kiplagat, the reigning world marathon champion, will be running the NYRR Mini as a test of fitness, hoping to determine what needs adjustment between now and the first week of August.  She's even trying out new racing shoes.

"I just started training four weeks ago," said Kiplagat in a roundtable discussion at the New York Road Runners' offices on Thursday. "So it is still part of the development plan for the Olympics."

Getting a race in before the Olympics is crucial for Kiplagat and the other athletes, as they aim to work any kinks out of their system before toeing the marathon start line on The Mall adjacent to St. James's Park.

"This race is going to be like testing," Kiplagat continued.  "At the race I can see how I perform and see how they [the other Olympians] are doing also."

For American Desiree Davila, the race comes in the middle of a solid phase of training, one where she is running upwards of 110 miles a week.

"We are really just getting into it," said the 28-year-old Davila, a member of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in Rochester Hills, Mich.  "My first marathon pace workout was on Monday, so it's just building up. The flip between building into it and being in [marathon pace training] was really quick, like I hit 115 miles last week, so that happened really fast. And then it just builds from there. I'll get 110-115 miles in this week."

Choosing not to taper before the NYRR Mini, Davila and coaches Keith and Kevin Hanson hope to mimic the "dead legs" feeling that comes in the latter stages of a marathon.

"That's a big part of why we are here," said Davila.

Because of this, Davila also said she isn't going to put too much emphasis on the actual results of the race, knowing that it comes early in the marathon build up.

"I feel like its really hard to tell what a 10-K means right now. For us we're really just getting rolling," she emphasized. "It's part of the bigger picture. I'm going in on tired legs and this is just another way to get the uniform on and compete, have a really hard effort."

South African Irvette Van Blerk and Briton Claire Hallissey are approaching the NYRR Mini in a slightly different fashion, yet are set on the same result: peaking when it counts most at the Olympics.

"I don't think anything can give you a feel of what is going to happen on the fifth of August," said Van Blerk, who will be running in her first Olympics. "I think now it's just training and getting a few good runs in. It will help a bit with the confidence, really."

The race also helps break up the monotony of marathon training, and gives all the Olympians a chance to test what they have been working on in practice.

"I've been working hard to finish quicker than I started," said Van Blerk. "I've been trying to negative split. Training has been going good with it, now it's just doing it in a race."

Hallissey is using the race to work on her speed.

"I'm using it to get my legs turning over a bit quicker," said the 29-year-old, who will join Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi on the British marathon team. "I've got a lot of miles in my legs, so I know I've got the endurance. I just thought I'd take the opportunity to do some slightly shorter work, get that speed."

Other Olympic marathoners competing on Saturday include Burundi's Diane Nukuri-Johnson, the Netherlands' Hilda Kibet, and Romania's Lidia Simon, who has run in four previous Olympiads and will soon be the first five-time women's Olympic marathoner in history.

Although the roads of Central Park, with its rolling hills and gentle turns, won't be completely similar to the twisting streets used for the London Olympic Marathon course, the race here should stimulate the athletes' competitive juices.

"It is hard to get into a really big competition [like the NYRR Mini] and not push yourself and test yourself," Davila said.

PHOTO: Kevin Hanson, a coach and founder of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project; Jennifer Slomack, a manager of the New York Road Runners' Youth Services Division; and Olympic marathoner Desiree Davila at the 2012 National Running Day celebration at Icahn Stadium in New York City (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)


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