Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Before he came to Minneapolis on October 11 to do a joint press conference with participants in this year's race, Team USA Minnesota's Andrew Carlson and Melissa Fry, Finn was in Arkansas with Armstrong High grad, Leah Thorvilson. There he presented a ceremonial race bib to Thorvilson, the four-time champion of the Little Rock Marathon(video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PNzl-pcqR0Q). He did the same for Fry and Carlson in Minneapolis as well as a segment for Carrie Tollefson's CTolleRun web site as Tollefson will be part of the ESPN broadcast team for the race.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy that coverage has an even more compelling back story as the city recovers from unprecedented flooding and power outages due to the storm. While the ESPN coverage will mainly focus on the elite races, no doubt there will be segments dealing with a marathon recovery of sorts from the storm that will only be in its early miles by the time the race begins.
For Frey, who was just returning from finishing 32nd at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Bulgaria, this year's New York race presents an opportunity to race against a world class field and tick off an item on her "bucket list"-- running the NYC Marathon. With her elite running career winding down, Frey said she wanted to run in New York while she was still competitive, not merely as part of the 47,000 who enter the event.
"I'm excited to be there and to see how fast I can run," said Frey. She received advice from Katie McGregor and her coach, Chris Lundstrom, both of whom have run New York, on how to navigate the race on the Big Apple's unique tour of the Five Boroughs. At points, she said they told her, "you have to hold back," because the crowd and the competition might induce you to run too fast. Managing your energy, while crucial to any marathon, is even more so in New York as the atmosphere can get you out of your race plan. Frey says she runs better when she is concentrating on her own goals, not getting sucked into others' pace or distractions, but it's not easy.
Carlson told the story of his experience in his first marathon--the Olympic Trials in Houston in January where he placed sixth. About seven miles into the race there was a turn where nobody was sure which way to go. Nervous and revved up about being in the Olympic Trials, Carlson "just started shouting at a police officer," who was standing in the area as a course monitor. Just as quickly as the urge hit him to begin yelling, Carlson realized, one, that the policeman probably had no more knowledge of which way to go than he did, and, two, that he was unnecessarily wasting energy. "You need to calm down," he remembers saying to himself.
He did, and through mile 20 he felt fine, was beginning to feel that this marathon thing was going pretty well, then reality set in. "First one hamstring started cramping, then another, and it goes from 'this is easy' to the hardest thing I've ever done." Carlson was still able to hold it together and get to the finish in 2:11:24. Then he went from the usual first time marathoner thoughts of "I'm never going to do this again," to sitting alone in his hotel room for four hours going over the race, picking out those things that he could have done better. Three spots from an Olympic berth. So close, but yet so far.
Demonstrating an impressive knowledge of the history of Minnesotans in New York, Carlson noted that his goals this weekend are to try and live up to the standards of those before him--Garry Bjorklund(5th in the 1977 NYCM), Bob Kempainen(2nd in the 1993 NYCM), Jason Lehmkuhle(fifth in the Olympic Trials in New York in 2007). Those are pretty high standards, but Carlson has never been one to aim low. He noted that's he's 50/50 on the success/failure ratio in New York having two good races and two bad ones in his four attempts at shorter distances in the Big Apple.
So, the main goal is to get above .500 on the success ratio and see where that places him. For Frey, if conditions allow it, her hopes are a time in the low 2:30s and "trying to be open to having the best day of my life." The training is done, said Frey, noting that she and some of her teammates on the US team in Bulgaria who were also preparing for Fall marathons went on a run at one in the morning before they left to fly home because their training schedules called for two runs that day at that was the only time they could get one of them done.