Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Jamie Cheever Shifts Her Goals for 2013

Jamie Cheever ran a breakthrough race on Sunday in the 3,000 meter steeplechase at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, California.  She shattered her previous personal best(9:51.42) set in the prelims of the Olympic Trials last year by 22 seconds and ran the second fastest time in the World this year--the top time being by Emma Coburn, the 2012 Olympic ninth place finisher who finished a little less than a second(9:28.26) in front of Cheever(9:29.13) at Stanford. Answering questions on her iPad during the flight on the way home from California, Cheever first wanted to thank those who have helped her. 

First, I want to thank the Minnesota running community for its support during all of my running career. I have had fantastic coaches growing up in Minnesota (Ben Zhao at Minneapolis Southwest High School and Gary Wilson at the University of Minnesota). I am am so lucky to be part of Team USA Minnesota, both for having great training partners and access to invaluable resources and support systems. The Minnesota running community is so fun to be a part of, and I easily appreciate the support from Brooks, Lifetime Fitness, Twin Cities in Motion, Minnesota Elite Athlete Development Program, Run N Fun, Travis McCathie at Northwestern Health Sciences University, and Lawrence Wock at Chiropractic Healing Arts Center.--Jamie Cheever

Down the Backstretch:  Was the objective on Sunday to get a PR, get an A standard qualifying time, all of the above?
Jamie Cheever: The goal of the race Sunday was to run a PR.  My legs were feeling ready to go, so I thought getting the B standard(9:48) was a realistic goal, maybe the A(9:43) if I felt amazing. 

DtB:  When did you realize that you could do better than that?  That you might be able to win the race?

JC:  Thanks to my dad giving splits, I knew I was on pace at the mile for low to mid 9:40's. But I was feeling much better than I should have at that point, so I picked it up. 

Catching Coburn was not on my mind until I understood I was gaining on her a lap later. I continued to focus on closing the gap.  With 300 meters to go, I knew I had a chance to win, but Coburn was able to surge enough the last 200 meters that I couldn't catch her.

DtB:  What did you learn from the experience?
JC: Most importantly, I learned what I am capable of on the track with another year under my belt.

DtB: Did your training indicate that running under 9:30 was possible? 

JC: I knew steeple workouts were going well, but it was hard to know what they indicated. I keep track of my mileage and workouts, but my steeple specific workouts vary by year in terms of length, number of hurdles, lane used, etc. So even though I tried to compare my workout times to last year, I didn't have a good sense of what, if any, improvement I was having.

DtB:  You went out less aggressively in the steeple than you did during the cross country season.  Was that because you were running more for time in this race than competition or did the cross country experiences influence you to try going out less aggressively

JC:  I wanted to make sure I felt strong though the first mile, so I was not very aggressive. At the Stanford Invitational last month, I went out a little too hard in the 5K, and I paid for that during laps seven and eight. 

On top of that, there were four 2012 steeplechase Olympians in the race (Coburn, USA; LaCaze, Australia; Ramos, Puerto Rico; and Figuorea, Columbia) along with many other talented women, and I wanted to be realistic about where I fit in with these runners.  

Also, it has been a long winter in Minnesota, and I wasn't able to go over a water barrier until the day before the race. To sum up, my plan for the race was to get a solid effort and time in, while being realistic.

DtB:  Did the experiences from cross country season give you more confidence, make you more savvy on your race tactics?
JC:  Cross country and steeple both require strength and toughness, so my cross country season, and especially my US cross country championships race, gave me confidence for this track season. Just getting more exposure racing with some of the top distance women in the US has allowed me to learn from their tactics, as well as grow mentally. 

DtB:  Did you get a chance to get any “non-winter” training leading up to Stanford or were you just running off of what you could do during our "long Winter" this year?

JC:  I definitely planned on getting a warm training trip in during January.  Spending three weeks in the sun helped me so much last Spring.  However, because of my work situation at the time, I did not get the opportunity this Winter. I will not make that mistake again, especially after this crazy, long winter.

DtB:  What’s next?  You’ve got the A standard.  You nearly beat one of the favorites to win the steeple at his year’s national championships(both college and USATF).  Has this success readjusted your thinking about goals this season?
JC:  I'm going to run the TC 1 Mile on May 9, a 1500 at the Oxy High Performance meet in Los Angeles on May 17, then probably get one more steeple in before the US Outdoor Track Championships.  

Yes, this race has changed my goals. Before the race, making a World Team was a goal for another year, but I now think I should be focusing on getting to Moscow.