INDIANAPOLIS - USA Track & Field served as the host to a media teleconference Thursday afternoon featuring two-time USA women's cross country champions Shalane Flanagan and Colleen De Reuck.
Flanagan and DeReuck discussed their preparations for the 2008 USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego on Saturday, where both open and junior men and women will look to earn a spot on the Team USA squad for the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 30.
The championships in San Diego will feature six races that will determine national champions for masters men and women; junior men and women; and open men and women. The event will be televised in association with the AT&T USA Indoor Track & Field Championships February 24, from 5-7 p.m. on ESPN 2.
Excerpts from Thursday's teleconference with Shalane Flanagan and Colleen De Reuck follow:
Q: Shalane, how has your training been going?
A: We just came out of Mexico, out of altitude, yesterday. It was really my first stint of altitude training and it's been good. Yeah, just kind of lay a good foundation for the year and try to focus on some of the longer distances this year. I've always felt that cross country is a good foundation for the track season, so yeah, things are good.
Q: Colleen, it's been just over six months since you've had a baby and you've raced a couple times, and most recently at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Houston. How do you feel coming into another cross country championships?
A: Cross country is my favorite season. Every day I feel stronger and feel fitter, so I'll just have to see how it plays out
Q: Shalane, you ran indoor track last season and your strategy is different this year, could you talk about that?
A: In terms of last year, having not raced for a full year prior coming off my injury, I guess I kind of needed some instant gratification in terms of racing, and just kind of know that my changing of coaches was the right decision and get back out there and compete. I'm a lot more confident in myself and everything that I'm doing this year in taking a big picture approach in honing and focusing on two meets and that's the (Olympic) trials and obviously, hopefully, the Olympics. With that in mind we just felt like building a big volume, big base would help prolong my season and really help in peaking for two specific races.
Q: Do you think that by the time you got to Osaka (2007 World Outdoor Championships) that you were still at your peak or maybe just a little past it?
A: I guess I didn't have the strength that I had hoped towards the end. I still had a decent amount of speed, but after a while there are only so many races you have within a season, I believe, I was just kind of running out of races and it had been a long year emotionally and physically, a great year. I feel like to be at my best for the Olympics, kind of gotta take a little bit more of a long term approach here.
Q: Did you like the altitude training?
A: Yeah. I think that having that other element added to my training. Hopefully I'll see some big benefits, hopefully Saturday and hopefully long term. After this race we'll be staying in San Diego for about ten days to get out of altitude for a little bit, but my group plans on going back for another two weeks before we're done with altitude and we're considering going back in May as well.
Q: Shalane, could you talk about what it was like growing up in a household where your mom (Cheryl Treworgy) was the world record holder in the marathon.
A: I guess what's interesting is I never really knew that maybe until a couple years ago. My parents downplayed most of their accomplishments until I started running, and then they would kind of sneak in and say, 'Oh by the way, I used to kind of run and I was kind of good.' My parents are very modest and once in a while they'll pull out some photos or a trophy here and there and show me. Growing up I just thought running is what every family did, staying active and healthy. Not until maybe high school did I become aware that I had very talented parents.
Q: Shalane, how does the course set up for you on Saturday?
A: I've kind of run down by the area. I wasn't exactly sure where it was. So far it looks like it's extremely flat and fast, so I think that'll lead to a tighter pack for a long period of time, is what I'm thinking. I've been up at altitude running in the mountains and I certainly have not been working on my speed skills, but as part of our program we're always doing a little bit of speed here and there, so hopefully it'll go well. It should be pretty fast, I'm assuming.
Q: Do you think you'll go out fast when the race starts?
A: I think I'll just run a solid race and see how I feel on the day and go with my instincts. I don't feel myself pulling away too soon. I'd like to work on just finishing strong.
Q: Colleen, do you see Shalane as the favorite on Saturday?
A: Yes, I see her as the favorite. I must admit that I'm not really in the running scene any more. I don't know who's doing what and how everyone is training and racing. I really have no idea what everyone's doing.
Q: Colleen, you said recently that you have been feeling stronger each week. Is that still the case?
A: Yes, every week I am feeling stronger. I'm still keeping my miles up because I'm planning for the marathon in April (Olympic Trials), so I'm not really bringing my miles down for this week because the marathon is the ultimate goal, but every week I do feel stronger.
Q: Shalane, do you like running cross country?
A: I didn't last year (laughter). Boulder (2007 USA Cross Country Championships) was really tough for me. I felt really ill afterwards. Maybe it was altitude or just the effort of the race. There were a couple times on the course when I literally considered throwing myself off the course. I was completely exhausted and it took me a few days to recover. The 8K is no joke. I think this year it'll be a little different because it's not at altitude and the weather should be a little bit kinder. I do like cross, I've always liked it, but last year was very tough.
For more information on the 2008 USA Cross Country Championships in San Diego, visit: www.usatf.org.