Alexandria, Va. — USATF held a press conference on Saturday previewing the .US National Road Racing Championships set for Sunday morning in Alexandria, Va.
Below are excerpts:
Alex Berry, Neustar Senior VP, Sales
On .US being a part of the championship of the USARC series:
Cheryl Treworgy Photo
“This has been a great education for me. I’m not the athlete these people are. Learning about the sport has truly been an honor for me. As an administrator for .US, we are extremely thrilled to partner with USA Track & Field for this race. We have been a proud sponsor and are thrilled that we’re bring this event to fruition.
"The reality that it’s happening here in America’s backyard is even more exciting.
“As the designated country code and top-level domain, .US represents mainstream America and we are bringing this race to America’s backdoor. The tradition of USA Track & Field that represents not only national pride, but also athletic excellence and competitiveness, and is something we want to associate our brand with.
“I want to thank the city of Alexandria and all the small businesses that are associated with this race. We hope you get a .US address. We also want to thank the police foundation and all the other sponsors.”
Deena Kastor, USATF Board member, Olympic Medalist
“Not only is this weekend about crowning the king and queen of the 2013 USARC but it’s about the entire running community.
"USA Track & Field and .US have done such a fantastic job in uniting that community. From our professional runners to our recreational runners to our media outlets to our youth to our volunteers and fans, it was wonderful to run on the Mount Vernon trail and see so many people running out there and choosing our sport for their recreation and peace of mind.
“Not only is it about crowning our champions this weekend, for me it’s most importantly about inspiring our youth. I’m really honored to join Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School and the 30 girls who have been training for this event with their teachers to participate in the Nationwide 5k. I’ll be meeting them before the sun rises to give them a pep talk and some high fives after the race to give them a bit of inspiration. For them to be able to see the elite runners participate, our greatest job as elite runners is to inspire the Olympians of tomorrow.
“I want to say thanks to USA Track & Field and .US for donating their entries, making it easier for them to be part of this event. These girls are not only taking part in an event so close to their home but we may see a future Olympian in this group and more importantly, we’re seeing these 30 girls choose a life of success because of their involvement in this sport.
“I’d just like to say congratulations to USA Track & Field and .US for already putting on a successful event in its inaugural year. It’s quite a feat to be able to do that. Best wishes to everyone participating tomorrow.”
“This is such a wonderful platform to perform on so I’m very grateful to be a part of the first one. Just listening to all the details and the progress and to have it come to fruition, I can really appreciate as an athlete having all this media attention and this platform to perform on to hopefully inspire the youth.
My fitness is rounding into shape. I had a nice 5k two weeks ago in New York City in celebration and preparation for the marathon. I ran against Molly (Huddle) and placed third. It was a good lung burner and kicked me into another gear of fitness. Excited to be here healthy and I hope the 12k distance is kinder to me than the 5k. I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning and running the streets of Alexandria.”
On competing this late in the season:
“Jerry (Schumacher) actually compared this race to running XC nationals. I’ve never extended my season this late. I did take a break and then got back into training.
“There’s some nice eye candy on the horizon and it kind of seals off the year in a fun way. It’ll be my last race of the year. I’m grateful to have this race to train for and finish off the year running against some great people. It’s kind of like my own national championship. Instead of Terre Haute, I’ll be running here.”
On competing head-to-head against Molly:
“It’s always fun to have great competition. It elevates you and your performances, so having Molly and the group of women that are here presents an entertaining race for everyone, including ourselves. We’ll bring out the best in each other.”
“I think it’s due time that there’s a championship for this series. I think it’ll help general fans understand the process and that it’s not just an individual road race; it’s an accumulation of points and there’s a reason for the race at this point in the year. I will say that if there wasn’t this race, I would have already had the title.
“It should be exciting. With the prize money involved, it’s bringing the top athletes out and extending their season. It’ll be an exciting race and I think it’ll be good for the D.C. area to experience.”
On recovering from his first marathon:
“I think after that 25k, it was still kind of debatable with Jerry and I whether I would give the main focus to track or road racing. I really ran 25k like a track & field athlete, forced the envelope and not really settling in and running the kind of race you need to on the road. The decision was made soon after to focus on the road and I learned a lot in that race to carry me forward.
Since Chicago, it’s been a quick turnaround. Knowing about this race earlier in the summer helped because I knew after Chicago, it would all be about recovery and I took a solid three weeks to get through runs and not feel exhausted. I could get through workouts but would feel exhausted afterwards. But I’m feeling good, my legs are underneath me and I’m ready for tomorrow.”
On if he has any advice for the community runners:
“I think for some of the lifestyle runners that are out there tomorrow, I think it’ll be a great event encompassing all levels of athletes. Tomorrow will be about, at the start, probably having fun with the event. I’m sure people have been a part of training groups to help prepare them for this. Stick with what you know. Obviously, with the training, they’ve learned what they can handle in terms of pace. At some point, it’s always good to get competitive. When the race gets hard, you always try to break it down and look who’s around you at that point. It’s what racing is all about.”
“ I’ve been looking forward to this race since I heard about it back in February. Alexandria seems like a really great place. The weather is great and this is an appropriate place for the U.S. road series. My fitness has been going pretty well. I’ve been doing some longer stuff to prepare. The distance is pretty long for me but I’m excited to see what I can do over 12k and I think it’s an interesting distance for everyone else to try. It’s a distance you don’t see very often and I think it’ll be interesting.”
On competing head-to-head against Shalane:
“The 5k was the first time we raced against each other in a long time. I think there will be a group up front for a lot of it and it’s never an easy race when Shalane is up front.”
On experimenting with longer distances:
“I’ve been jumping into bits and pieces of the marathon build-up, just some longer reps and a little more mileage. Looking forward to this race and how I handle that increased volume. I wanted to experiment with how I handle (a longer distance) and this 12k will be a great test at what I can do with something a little longer and how I handle that training.”
“I’m nervous coming into this one. Track is an easier sport and it’s easier to lock in and just follow the person in front of you. With road racing, it’s been a bumpy road transitioning to the road racing circuit but it’s been enjoyable. It shows there’s still room to improve as an athlete. Just really excited about coming here and I’ve never run a 12k before, so I know I’ll get a PR.”
On transitioning to road racing from track & field:
“I’m definitely toying with the idea of making a hopeful, successful transition to the marathon. I’m not ruling that out for 2016. My heart is still on the track. This has been honestly not a great test, but a test to see how road racing is going. I’ve been doing a lot of the shorter distances, but I’m hoping a 12k will fit me better than a 5k.”
On if he has any advice for the community runners:
“Kind of run 10k and hold on for 2k. Find that comfortable rhythm that you’re confident you could do 10k or more at. If you’re feeling good past halfway, keep going at it. If you’re feeling comfortable at 10k, you’ve gotten the hardest part over. You’re set up for disasters at halfway and once you get past that, you can settle a little.”