The Race As It Happened | Post-Race Recap | Race Photos | Complete Results
The Trials: Complete Qualifiers/Entrants List | The Course |
Olympics Trials Complete History
Profiles/Interviews: The Favorites | The Contenders | Khalid Khannouchi Interview | Up Close with Abdi | A chat with Meb
Extras: Video Coverage
USA Marathon Trials - Up Close & Personal With Meb Keflezighi
by Sharon Ekstrom
Meb Keflezighi has lost weight since we have last seen him, but don't let this fool you. His slender American frame is quite the powerhouse when it comes to track and road races. In the past few months, Keflezighi has been quietly preparing for the US Olympic Trials…and now he is back, ready for competition and in great shape. Meb will need to be in the top three to secure a spot on the team.
How have you approached training for the 2008 olympic trials?
I am preparing the same way I had for Athens (the 2004 Olympic Games). The course will be just as hilly.
Is it possible to get in better shape than you were in Athens?
Yes, of course I can. In NYC Marathon 2006, I was close to being in better shape, but consequently I got food poisoning which led to a bad race….With the level of guys running the Trials, I will have to be in Olympic shape in order to run the trials well. I need to be in my A game.
Do you run to win the trials or do you run to make sure you place in the top three?
My first goal is to win, but just like in the Olympics...I was going for the win, but …"I need to protect my position"
What are your feelings on the criterium course?
"The criterium course is different. There will be lots of ups and downs which is a good change for the muscles, but it's going to be tough. The course will make a move for you rather than you making a move…It's going to hurt. It will all depend on how fit you are…the curse will be the good judge of your fitness."
How did you mentally prepare for the course?
The visualizing starts months ago…I would make notes of where I'm going to drop this person…
What type of training have you done?
One to two mile intervals, hills…I want to do Tioga Pass in Yosemite before the race. (Tioga Pass is a 12 mile trail in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park whose elevation gain can be compared to running in Kenya)…I will also use the hills in Mammoth to prepare before spending 1 week to 10 days at sea level.
Who are you training with in Mammoth Lakes?
Josh Cox, Dan Browne…Ryan Hall will be coming up soon.
Do you have any particular strategy?
People will be watching to see if I'm going to make a move…I'm hoping the pack stays together at least for the first half.
Who do you see as ones to watch out for?
Ryan, Culpepper, Abdi, Sell…You need to be able to respond to them if they make a move.
Will you sleep well before the Olympic Trials?
I should be fine as long as I am healthy…I can sleep 2 hrs. And I'll be fine as long as there has been some consistency and I've been running well. Normally the night before a big race, I sleep then get up and eat and go back to sleep. I have Gatorade, a bagel, and some special homemade bread next to the bed.
Who makes it?
Either my wife or my mom.
What type of bread is it?
How are you different as an athlete now compared to before?
Very different…Looking at where I came from and where I am now, I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world. It's a blessing…I do have a medal at the Olympics and although it would be nice to have another…my wife and my daughter are my two gold medals.
Can you briefly recount your experience in at the 2004 Olympics in Athens?
Baldini made a move at the 5K, but I thought it was too early…well too early for me…When you saw me throw my hat, I was ready…From 5K and on I knew that I'd be on the medal stand…I was appreciating everything that got me where I was**….In my head, it was like a movie and I had flashbacks of times throughout my running career. It got more emotional when I received the medal. In the three miles I wasn't as emotional, but I visualized it.
Bad Marathons - first marathon - NYC Marathon 2002…What happened in NY?
1) My shoes were too light…they were shoes that are normally used for 10ks.
2) I put cold water on my head…cold water just tightens everything up
I threw my hat away and I ended up getting really cold in those last miles
Even in Boston I took off my hat …Nike made us these (arm warmers)…I regret taking it off.
I don't like the cold weather. Best is 60-65 degrees.
Isn't it cold in Mammoth?
I'm wearing like 3 layers.
What is your mental preparation like?
I always visualize beating competition prior to a race. "I do a lot of visualization before a race this was passed onto me by Steve Scott in 96."
He discusses a 5K that he and Culpepper ran years ago…"I didn't sleep the night before because I was reviewing it my head the night before over and over again.
"When you are fit, you are fit. It doesn't matter what the course is. "
Can you describe the pain and fatigue of the 21-22 mile mark?
You hit a wall and it feels like you are carrying an extra 22 lbs. It all depends on your fitness.
When you're a front runner everything feels easier.
What are your weaknesses?
Try to stay healthy, last mile or two (like in Athens)
What are your strengths?
Keeping an even pace for a long time…from tempo runs and long runs and my background.
"There are no shortcuts to success…you need to put in the work and stay healthy."
Athens - 124-5
Now - 120…it may be the lightest I've ever been…I have been conscious about brining my weight down…this guy in Eritrea that could probably run a 2"06 was 48 kilos….and I was like 58 kilos!
Would you want to lose more?
I would try to dip under 120 lbs but in a safe way.
So you think weight plays into it? What would the difference of a lbs or two?
It would be carrying a lb or two.
There is an art to it all - sleep weight immune syst, training, hard work…sleeping more def keeps the immune syst up.
Meb has been taking daily naps at the same time his daughter naps.
What is your workout regimen like?
I am a morning person…I enjoy morning workouts..and maybe an easy run in the afternoon…sometimes if there is a really important work out…he'lll do it in the afternoon - like mile repears… 2 repeats + one tempo and long runs, tempo, interval, long run.
No coffee, drinks tea in the afternoon but not before races.
With all the media attention now going to Abdi and Ryan and etc…do you feel less pressure?
They are doing extremely well…(and) I don't want to feel forgotten…I mean I'm 32 and getting into my prime…I won an Olympic medal…anyway…as long as everyone is running PRS…it's good for the sport.