New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan hasn’t slept much since Sunday, when she became the first American woman to win the race in 40 years, but she’s still exhilarated. “I updated my Instagram profile and wrote ‘New York City Marathon champion,'” she said. “Adding that title, that validation that I’m not crazy that I thought I could do it, that feels so good. That sense of accomplishment is huge.” We spoke to Flanagan on Tuesday from her home in Oregon to break down her tactics, her emotions at the finish and her thoughts on whether she’ll race at the marathon distance again.
ESPN: Have you taken the laurel off yet?
Shalane Flanagan: I’m trying to figure out how to preserve it. It’s slowly decaying and I need to figure out somehow how I can keep it pristine, because it’s probably my favorite piece.
ESPN: You put your goal out there so explicitly. It strikes me as a risk, that only one result was going to be acceptable to you.
SF: Part of me is like, ‘Oh, don’t say exactly what you want. Maybe sugarcoat it.’ But then I have this verbal problem where I can’t keep it in. I say to my dad sometimes, ‘Maybe I’m too honest.’ And he says, ‘Shalane, since when is being honest not a good thing to be?’ If I feel I’ve had good preparation and I think I have the potential to do something, I’m excited and I want to convey that excitement. I guess it could be a bit dangerous, because yeah, there is only one result that would ultimately make me happy. There’s some accountability behind it, so I think that creates some pressure on me, but I don’t mind that. It’s a good position to be in at times, to make sure you’re doing your job.
ESPN: How did the race evolve compared to what you thought might happen?
SF: My coach and I had analyzed Mary [Keitany’s] past couple wins, how she’d captured those wins. It seems like she just kind of listens to her body. She’s run it in a variety of ways — very aggressive from the beginning, aggressive at Mile 10. She ran 2:17 within the last year, so we knew her fitness should be really high. Six months ago, she was the best in the world and set a world record in London. Given that data, I prepared myself for literally any kind of race. She knew the course really well, having won three times. She was for sure the woman to key off of, and a lot of times I would actually try to run right behind her so that if she made any distinct move, I’d be there to cover it, I wouldn’t be caught off guard and gapped. My coaches said if the race wasn’t a full-on assault of 26 miles, every mile that was kind of slow was to my advantage. I saw her split at halfway, we were about 76 minutes to the half, and I started to get excited. . .
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