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Quotes - No. 1 Qualifiers Press Conference

Quotes - U.S. Olympic Trials - Marathon
No. 1 Qualifiers Press Conference, February 12, 2016
Shalane Flanagan, No. 1 women’s qualifier
“I think Meb and I are ready to go. This has been on our calendars probably for awhile now. Probably this race has been on my mind since I finished the last Olympic Trials. I’m excited to get out there and do what I know, what I’m capable of. It looks to be a great course with great fans, and I’m just hoping everyone has their best day.”
On preparation and other training sites
“In preparation for tomorrow, I did two altitude stints up at Flagstaff, Arizona, with about five weeks in between in Portland, Oregon, where I live, so it’s been a good mix of altitude throughout the training.
On how big a factor the weather will be
I’ve honestly never run in temperatures that are expected for tomorrow. I’ve had a lot of experience from the track in the heat and humidity. I have an Olympic medal from Beijing, which was really hot and humid. I wouldn’t classify myself as a great heat runner, but I wouldn’t say I’m terrible, so I’m just going to listen to my body as much as I can. I think just knowing going in that is going to be uncomfortable for a large part of the race and it is going to take its toll eventually. I just feel like knowing that is very helpful and just staying on top of fluids.
On weather and strategy
I haven’t ironed out all the details of my strategy. I’ll sit with my coach later, and we’ll go over all of the factors. The later you keep people around it allows for some people to have some really good performances. I guess my comfort in knowing if people are around late is that I switch back to the track quite often, so I can visualize myself on the track for the last six miles and do what it feels like to be back on the track - pick up my legs quicker and the cadence quicker. If it does come down to something where it’s more strategic, I definitely feel I will revert mentally to my track strengths.
On how to approach a first marathon as Galen Rupp takes the course
I think just my respect for the distance led to a really great debut. I was really well prepared,  probably over-prepared. I studied of the sport and of the distance. My coach had us on the course and had us practicing. We just had every little details dialed in and we tried to control what we could control. I think I was just ultimately wanting to call myself a marathoner that day. I didn’t have exceedingly high expectations, so I think as I got closer to the finish line and could sniff that advantage, the competitor in me came out. It allowed me to not have these high expectations and allowed me to have a really great race.
On training with Amy Cragg and working together during the race
I feel so fortunate to have a training partner for this buildup. I just thrive on having accountability and the friendship, and I do really cherish and relish the journey and the process to get to these stages. The start line and the finish line are never a guarantee. I feel like my training is always enhanced when I share it. I feel really lucky that Amy decided to join our team this winter. We’ve just had a really fun buildup. I actually started my build-up with an injury, and it was just so helpful to have the  encouragement from her daily that I was doing everything I could and to not stress out about it, and it really made a big difference in my mental outlook and in my approach to getting to this stage right here. In terms of just race strategy, Amy and I are very fit, and I just  feel like we’ll know what to do instinctively when we’re out there. We’re going to have to listen to our bodies. I think everyone reacts to the heat differently. There is only  so much you can say. We want to do this or we want to do that. Honestly, as soon as you get out there a lot of plans change. There are really no plans right now to do anything together. I think just having the comfort of her next to be running will feel we’re being back at Portland or we’re in Flagstaff doing what we practiced for, and I think that kind of the synergy between us will allow us to stay calm and wait for the right moments when the crucial decisions, and I think we’ll be in confidence with each other.
On her confidence going into Saturday
I just feel like It just would show the consistency and the level at which I’ve been competing at. Every time I’ve tried out for a U.S. team, I have made it whether it’s cross country, track or marathon. Every world championship team basically since 2004. I don’t plan on missing my first tomorrow. I would hate for that to be the case.
 On winning the race versus making that team
I think Meb and I can both say that we love to win. It’s a great feeling. However, I do realize that it is short-lived. I honestly believe that once three men and three women cross the finish line, you really are all winners because third is just as important as first. I think beat Desi for about seven seconds and I enjoyed winning for about seven seconds, and it honestly is a celebration of the men and women who are going to the Olympics.
On her injury and setback from injury
I’ve been so fortunate to really not have any injuries pretty much my entire career. I thought I had a navicular problem, but it was really just an extra bone. I was born with an extra bone in my foot. Apparently, it’s not helpful for running, so I needed it removed. That’s really the only significant injury I had until right after the track season I ran two road races and then took my typical two-week break, and I wanted to make sure I was really rested for the Olympic Trials. Apparently, my body decided it wanted an extended break because I came off of my two-week break and was maybe only about 10 days back with my running and just felt a pain in my second metatarsal. I don’t know if it was from actual running. Ironically, I did some barefoot walking to strengthen my feet, but I incurred a stress reaction. It wasn’t a full break, so I was in a boot for about a month. I didn’t start training until I got up to my first training run in Flagstaff in about November and was with Amy and we did a bunch of cross training for about two weeks and then was out running for about the remaining two weeks while I was in Flagstaff. My second weeks of running I actually ran a half marathon, which was in San Antonio. I’ve made a lot of progress since then. We made a very aggressive approach to get back to training. Two weeks in I ran a half marathon and then in training about three or four weeks in we ran a marathon in training. I feel really fortunate to be here because we pushed the envelope to be ready for this. There was no holding back. It was just full throttle once I got up and running.
Meb Keflezighi, No. 1 men’s qualifier
“It’s a great honor to be here. Thank you USATF, USOC and LA Marathon for allowing us to have an opportunity to represent hopefully I’ll finish in the top three spots, and “Greg, thank you for the KT Tape. I am so happy to be on our team and many other sponsors that help me get here.
In terms of training, I couldn’t be happier. You do all that you can to be the best that you can on that day, and I’ve felt my training has gone well. I’m confident going in. I feel good going in and hopefully the experience will help me. In running you can’t play time out and you can’t play defense. May the best man or woman be able to rise to the occasion. In terms of my training, I’ve been in Mammoth Lakes. I just came in yesterday around noon. I have been away from my family for five weeks, but they surprised me one week later, so I’ve been without them for four and a half (weeks). They first missed me, but at the same time this is my one shot, I have one more opportunity to go out there and do the best that I can and get the best out of myself. It’s a great spectator-friendly course, and we’ll have to see what comes of Southern California weather.
On the weather
The weather will be a factor because it starts at 10:06 and not at 7:00, but it is what it is. Luckily, I have run well in the heat. In Athens I ran great, and I thought New York in 70 degrees and London last year and in 2012 was pretty warm. It’s tough and it’s going to take its toll, but at the same time time you’ve just got to monitor. Those people running on Sunday, take extra precautions. We have to take extra precautions at the same time I hope to take that message and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Listen to the body as Shalane (Flanagan) said because that’s going to be a key factor to get to that finish line.
On what he would tell someone like Galen Rupp to expect in his first marathon
Being the first marathon, there are a lot of undiscovered roads there. Some of us hit our walls on the first one - like (I did in) New York in 2002. But you know what, everybody has to learn the lesson. You have to go through it at the same time. Shalane, I remember when she did the first one, she was like ‘Oh this is great. I can’t wait to do another one,” and I’m like, ‘I don’t like this. I never want to do this again. Is it the weather? Is it the distance?’ The marathon definitely keeps you humble. Me going out in Beijing definitely helped me realize that I missed running. Sometimes when things go well, you are like, ‘Oh I can do this all day long,’ but not in the marathon. That’s not always the case.”
On his race strategy
When you go into a race, you have plans. My strategy as an elite athlete is that you never really run your own race because you have to cover something that somebody else made a move. Honestly, I think the only marathon I ever ran my way was the Boston Marathon. If there’s a gap or somebody else makes a move and you to be patient, so you have to make that decision on that moment and you have that idea Bob Larsen will talk about what the possibilities, and plan A to Z and try to execute at that time and at that moment. We anticipate it will be a little bit slower just because of the weather and temperature. But at the same time, we know each other well. We know what our strengths are and you have to make some decisions on at one point.
On the marathon he was most confident in and comparing that to his feeling’s for Saturday
For me, the most confident going in was Athens 2004. That’s when I was the 39th fastest guy, but I executed the plan really well. And in my fourth marathon ever, I won the silver. My New York City win, that was a huge one just because I did a tune-up race and you make it look so easy sometimes. Those you excel and you achieve those. There are also some other races like the 2012 Trials or London Olympics or Boston. You’re not sure, but you rise for the occasion. I have the confidence going into this race that it’s my 23rd marathon and maybe there could be more after that. It’s always a great opportunity to represent our country.
My daughters are here right now and if I can snap one more top-3 and go to Rio. They think about people like Gabby Douglas and they want to meet her, so I have to make the Olympic team. I’ll be thinking about those things. They keep me humble; they keep me on my toes.
It’s been fun but at the same time, I just have to go there and execute a plan. There are just a lot of factors and you have to execute the plan. We are fortunate to be there and be healthy and to try to secure the top 3 spots. For me I am just thankful to be in the position that I am where I have a shot at it. Always dreamed of New York - done that. Always dreamed of Boston, and now I’ve done that. As a human, you always want to do more.
On winning versus making the team
I’ve never met somebody who likes to lose. We all like to achieve our goals whether it is to win or whether it is to get third place. You live for those moment and you visualize those moments in training, and I do it. Those are the doubt you have in that tempo run, but hopefully those come. You would love to get first place, but second and third are good as well because you get to go to Rio. It’s nice to have the opportunity and that shot is tomorrow because there are a lot of people who are close friends of Shalane and me who are not here, and I would like to congratulate all the runners who are able to come and participate.
On longevity and getting to starting line healthy while others are pulling out
You have to see me every single day and see what I do. I’m always doing something. It hurts not to see Deena not to get to the start line at the last minute, and to not see Abdi or to see Ryan have to retire. These are great friends of mine. You feel for them because I have been there. Injuries are part of the sport. They are a part of life. Injuries are a part of sport. It’s a fine line as an athlete. You would rather run eight miles or nine miles and use that five minutes or 10 minutes to stretch. It’s less different the next day; you will recover faster and you have more consistencies. I’ve had all of those things you can think of. The Olympic Trials come once every four years. It’s nice to know your body. I use KT Tape and all of that stuff. For as long as you’ve been running, you know you body better than anybody and you want to push it the edge. Rest is important; training is important. Matt and Ryan, I wish them the best in the future and Denna. I’m sure they’re going to bounce back. Set your goals and go out there and you’ll bounce back. 

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