Shannon Rowbury teleconference excerpts
Jill M. Geer
Director of Communications
USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field on Tuesday hosted a media teleconference with current U.S. 1,500m leader Shannon Rowbury, who will attempt to make her first Olympic Team at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field, held in Eugene, Oregon. The first round of the women's 1500m is scheduled for July 3, with the final on Sunday, July 6, the final day of competition.
The 2007 NCAA indoor mile champion while at Duke, Rowbury has bounced back from a stress fracture in her hip to have a stunning 2008. She was a somewhat surprise 3000m winner at the 2008 AT&T USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, but she's been even more impressive outdoors. On May 18 at the adidas Track Classic, Robury won the 1,500m in 4:01.61, a personal best by nearly six full seconds. It was a world leader at the time and is the fifth-fastest ever by an American. She currently is the third-fastest woman in the world so far in 2008. Most recently, she honed her speed in the 800m, placing fourth at the Prefontaine Classic in 2:01.03.
Below are excerpts from Tuesday's call. For a complete bio of Shannon Rowbury, visit http://www.usatf.org/athletes/bios/
Q: Shannon, tell us what you've been up to since the Nike Prefontaine Classic and how you are feeling heading into the Olympic Trials?
A: As far as I'm feeling, I'm very excited. The nerves are there as well. I can't really believe that it's finally here, but I'm very excited. We've been doing a lot of hard work every day and just trying to be smart about training, rest, recovering and all that.
Q: How did you feel about your 800m at Prefontaine?
A: I was certainly happy with it as a PR. I had hoped to both run a little bit faster and possibly place a little bit better. But I wanted to go into the race primarily so I could get used to running in a pack, and I got that in spades in Prefontaine. I had to fight my through in the final 100 meters.
Q: Since your 4:01 1500m at the adidas Track Classic, are you trying to improve or maintain your fitness?
A: After that race, I said to my coach, if I could maintain, it would be great. I didn't want to be greedy. But I feel very confident that I have room to improve. My 800 at Prefontaine, I had a lot of room to improve on that. I'm looking forward in the next few months to get more fit. But my primary goal will be tactical.
Q: Where have you been since Pre?
A: I've been in San Francisco, training by myself. My high school coach has been overseeing the workouts that my coach, John Cook, has sent me. My heart is in San Francisco, because that's where I'm from. I'm near my family, and it's a good environment.
Q: A year ago, when you were hurt with a stress fracture in your hip, did you think you'd be where you are now in terms of your running?
A: I definitely envisioned myself at the Trials, but I don't think having the top seed time going in was something I had thought about. I was just looking at getting healthy and getting better and being a contender to make the team.
Q: How much did you use your "space-age" treadmill?
A: I used it pretty frequently. I was able to start running on it 6 weeks after my diagnosis, in mid-June. The best thing was it gave me confidence. It gave me a comfort level and I was able to start doing my workouts. I was running almost every day of the week.
Q: Can you describe the treadmill?
A: Your legs are in a bubble and you're being lifted up by air pressure. Unlike harnesses that people had previously used on treadmills, you're being supported just at your hips, so you can have a full range of motion with your legs and normal arm carriage. You can control what body weight you are at (how much weight putting on your legs).
Q: When did you first get hurt?
A: It first started bothering me after indoor nationals, in March of '07. I finally ran on the ground again at the end of July. My first race back was in November, in a 5K in San Jose.
Q: How did that affect you mentally?
A: The reason I run is so I can race. More than anything, I missed that excitement of competition. The races helped give meaning to the training. I guess the hardest thing was finding that motivation, day in day out, when you don't have any races on the horizon. When I got into races, like indoor nationals (2008 AT&T USA Indoor Championships), I was nervous, but I've been competing since high school so those instincts were there. I just had to refresh my memory in terms of race tactics.
Q: What areas have you improved in, as a runner?
A: Speed is something I didn't tap into as much in college, because we concentrated on strength. I think the overall fitness is something I've come to realize that is just as important as well. Trying to strengthen my core and my upper body, which in turn will help the end of the race, to keep me from breaking down as much as would have otherwise.
Q: Is it your goal to go under 4 minutes in the 1500?
A: That's a definite goal for myself. I'm not setting any deadlines that it has to be a certain year. But by the end of my career, that's definitely a goal.
Q: How do you feel about racing?
A: Mainly it's just having confidence in my training and realizing that in the end, it's just one big improvisation and you have to be ready to react to anything that happens.
Q: Does track dominate your life now?
A: I definitely think about track more than I used to but I try to keep myself distracted. I have creative outlets to go along with the physicality of running. I majored in film. I'm the type of person that If I thought too much about running, I'd go crazy.
Q: What's it going to take to make the team in Eugene?
A: In my training, I've always made it a goal to become as strong as I possibly can and as fast as I possibly can so I don't have to rely on one race strategy. Christin Wurth has shown she can run consistently well at 4:04. Erin Donoghue is a force to be reckoned with. Treniere [Clement] has proven herself many times in the past. I know it's going to take smart racing and the ability to react.
Q: Talk about your Irish dancing.
A: My Irish dancing, I began that when I broke my leg when I was in kindergarten, and my grandma started me in dance. First ballet, to strengthen my bones. I started Irish dancing and it was something I loved because unlike ballet, where you have recitals, there is a competition aspect. It's very technical and quick, and fun to get dressed up. I started Irish dancing at about 6. It was great in the mental training it gave me for competition. Dan Pfaff equates my dancing to the soccer playing that a lot of Africans do in terms of training fast-twitch muscles. Without us knowing, it became very helpful for my development.
Q: Did you compete with any teams when you were dancing?
A: I started at the Healy School of Irish Dancing, and when I was about 14, I changed to the Boyle School. The first is in San Francisco, the second is in Pacifica. My focus was on individual competition. I stopped competing in Irish dancing when I was a junior in high school. It was too much of a time commitment.
Q: What about film-making?
A: I'm working on a documentary about the women's cross country team at Duke in 2005. The story is about the senior women. '05 was our last season together. We started out together as seven freshmen. The documentary focuses on the '05 season as showing where we came from and how we've changed.
Q: Do you have any favorite movies or filmmakers? How did you get interested in film?
A: I started out as an English major but wanted something more creative. I switched to theater, but felt a little constricted. I found film and it was a great outlet. I really like Sophia Coppola, Martin Scorcese, many film makers that I like. I have my masters from Duke, a masters in humanities. My focus was film studies and women's studies. A couple favorite films would be "O Brother Where Art Thou?" by the Cohen brothers and Sophia Coppola's "Lost in Translation." For documentaries, I enjoyed "The Last Waltz" by Martin Scorcese.
Q: Do you have any idols in the sport or role models?
A: Most of my mentors are not within the sport itself, but the people who have helped me along the way. I have chiropractor I've been with since I was a freshman in high school. ... people who've been there day in and day out.
Q: When did you get into running?
A: I started running as a freshman in high school.
Q: Who will be cheering you on in Eugene?
A: My parents will be there, my high school coach, Andy Chan, and then I have a good group of friends who will be there and enjoying the awesome experience that is the Olympic Trials.
Q: Tell us about Andy and how he helped you?
A: The best thing Andy did for me is he always kept the big picture in mind. He saw I might have a future in running and took my training very gradually, so I was competing in everything from 800 through cross country, so it was something I stayed motivated in and excited about. He taught me the importance of recovery, and he made running fun, which for me was the most important thing. It took m a while to completely commit to running. He set up the big picture for me.
Q: What is the big picture now?
A: It's to be able to run faster and to keep improving my times so I can compete on the international level. I want to represent my country as best as possible. Each year I want to get a little bit better.