Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Evan Jager Confident But Not Cocky Heading Into the Olympic Trials

American steeplechase record holder Evan Jager will defend his Olympic Trials title in the event next month in Eugene, Oregon. Although Evan is a heavy favorite to make his second Olympic team, he’s taking nothing for granted. Evan’s qualifying round in Eugene is scheduled for July 4, the date on which last year he set his American record of 8:00.45.

You said earlier this year you really care about only two races this year, the Olympic Trials final and the Olympic final. What are your takeaways from the build-up races you’ve done?

Evan Jager: I feel really good about where my fitness is at right now going into the Olympic Trials. I was able to win the steeple that I ran at Oxy against most of my competitors that I will be racing at the Trials, which is obviously a good thing. What I was most happy about with that race was that I was able to win by kicking fast over the last 400 meters, which is a tactic that isn’t my greatest strength.

In the 1500-meter and mile races that I ran, I was able to run 3:38 and 3:54, respectively, while not feeling totally sharp. I believe that I will have the ability to run faster in the later stages of the season.

As the American record holder, what percent fitness do you think you need to be in to make the team?

I don’t discredit the strength of my American competitors in the steeplechase, especially when an Olympic team spot will be on the line. My teammate Dan Huling placed higher than me at the World Champs last year, for example. I will definitely be bringing my best on the day to ensure that I make that team.

More broadly, what are the keys for you in making the team?

I think that in order to make this team I will need to come into the Trials healthy, strong and mentally prepared to compete at the highest level. I will also be doing my best to not stress out too much and keep mentally and emotionally steady over the course of the week.

Your Trials qualifying round will be only your second steeple of the year. Will you use it to practice tactics/technique?

No. Most likely the only thing I will try to focus on in the prelim will be staying relaxed and conserving energy for the final while being technically sound over the barriers and water jump.

At the Trials four years ago, you were new to the event. What are three important things you know now about steepling you didn’t know then?

  1. I know how my body handles different racing situations like a fast early pace or a slow tactical race with a kick.
  2. I know my competitors and their strengths/weaknesses much better after racing them for the past four years.
  3. I know myself as an athlete better, both mentally and physically.

Did you feel more, or a different kind of pressure than before the 2012 Trials, given the difference in your experience then and now?

It’s definitely a different kind of pressure. In 2012 I was much more nervous going into the Trials for a few reasons. First, it was my first Olympic Trials and my first opportunity to make an Olympic team. Also, the steeplechase was still so much of an unknown event for me that I still didn’t know completely what my potential was or how good at the event I was going to be.

This time around, I am much more confident but there is also more pressure to make the team because I have had so much success and my goals have grown to be so much greater the last four years. It would be a much bigger letdown if I didn’t make the team this year compared to 2012.

Who will make the women’s team?

I don’t know who will make the women’s team. I could make an educated guess but that doesn’t really matter. There is a reason we have the Olympic Trials. Nothing is given, you have to earn your spot on that team.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

NCAA Stars Courtney Frerichs, Izaic Yorks Join KIMbia

We’re pleased to welcome 2016 NCAA steeplechase champion Courtney Frerichs and NCAA 1500-meter runner-up Izaic Yorks to the KIMbia family of athletes. Both have just finished stellar college careers and will now work to make their mark as professionals.

On Saturday, in her last race for the University of New Mexico, Courtney ran 9:24.41 to not only win the NCAA title but break the NCAA record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The old mark of 9:25.54 was held by Jenny Barringer (now Simpson), a former U.S. record holder in the event. Courtney is now the sixth fastest American steepler in history.

Courtney is currently third on this year’s U.S. steeple list. She’ll return to the site of Saturday’s victory, Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, to run next month’s Olympic Trials.

On Friday, Izaic closed out his college career by running 3:38.06 to place second in the 1500. In February, the University of Washington star ran an indoor 3:53.89 mile, the fastest ever by a U.S. collegian. Last month Izaic beat a field of pros at the Payton Jordan Invitational to win the 1500 in a personal best of 3:37.74.

Izaic will also run the Olympic Trials next month.

Stay tuned for details on Courtney’s and Izaic’s pro plans, including where they’ll be training.

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Shalane Flanagan, Amy Cragg PR at San Diego Rock ’n’ Roll Half

Mission accomplished, and then some for training partners Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg at Sunday’s San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. As expected, the duo went 1-2. Perhaps not as expected was how quickly they did so.

Pushing from the start, Shalane won in 67:51, a half marathon personal best by 40 seconds. She ran her previous PR at the distance, 68:31, in New Orleans as part of her build-up to the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Placing second in 69:50, Amy took even more time off her old PR of 1:11:19, set back in 2010 in Houston.

Sunday’s race was the first for both women since Amy won and Shalane placed third at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February. As Amy detailed a few days ago, she and Shalane are deep into hard, high-mileage training for August’s Olympic Marathon, making today’s performances that much more remarkable.

“For both of them to run PRs like that,” coach Jerry Schumacher told Competitor, “you come away knowing that I’m going in the right direction, and maybe something big is capable of happening in Rio. And that’s what you want.”

Next up: altitude training. So if you think they’re fit now….
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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Marathon Trials Champ Amy Cragg Returns to Action Sunday in San Diego

Since winning the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February, Amy Cragg has run with Michelle Obama on the White House lawn, stood on a beach in Rio de Janeiro and thrown out the first pitch at a Red Sox game. On Sunday she’ll be back on more familiar ground, when she and training partner Shalane Flanagan run their first race since the Trials at the Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon.

“Our goal in San Diego is to help our marathon in Rio,” Amy said on Wednesday afternoon. “We haven’t 100 percent decided yet if that means we’ll go to the well [with a race effort] or run more at [marathon] pace.”

If coach Jerry Schumacher tells Amy and Shalane to race, they’ll be doing so on tired legs. Amy says the duo won’t really taper for San Diego, and that “we officially started high-mileage training for Rio a month ago. Now we’ve started adding more intense workouts, and after a month of that we’ll go to altitude to add that third factor while maintaining mileage and workouts.”

Their time on a Rio beach was a short break during a fact-finding trip to the city Amy and Shalane took in April. The takeaway: The key to success in August 14’s Olympic race will be fitness, not finesse.

“We stayed at a hotel along the 10K loop [that Olympic marathoners will run four times during the criterium course],” Amy says. “We were able to run that part a bunch, and we walked the first and last part. There’s not much to the course. There’s nothing to do to specifically get ready for that course. The biggest thing it to get as fit as we possibly can. I think I fared well [on a hot day at the Trials in Los Angeles] because I was so fit. That makes you better able to handle adverse conditions.”

To help prepare for what will likely be far from ideal conditions in Rio, Amy and Shalane went to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. They ran for 90 minutes on a treadmill in a heat chamber that simulated running at sea level with a temperature in the 80s and humidity at more than 70%. That probable worst-case scenario told them how much they sweat, and what they lose in their sweat, under those conditions; they’ll then use that information to guide their hydration strategy in the Olympics. They’ll also spend the final two weeks before the marathon in an environment similar to Rio’s so that they’re acclimated on race day.

Amy says she feels newly confident as an athlete, but not necessarily because of the marathon trials win to go with the 10,000-meter title she won at the 2012 Trials.

“What really boosted my confidence was the training leading in to the Trials,” she says. “I was more consistent in tougher workouts than I’d ever been. Having Shalane there day after day was a huge marker. I was able to realize I could be there as well.”

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

KIMbia Out in Force at Oxy Meet, Including in the Broadcast Booth

Evan Jager’s first steeple of the year and Chris Solinsky’s debut as a USATF.tv broadcaster are among the highlights of the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic, which will be held Friday night at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

KIMbia athletes will run in many of the meet’s events. Here’s who’s doing what, in order of race schedule:

  • Evan Jager, 3000-meter steeplechase
  • Lopez Lomong, 800 meters
  • Natalja Piliusina, 1500 meters
  • German Fernandez, 1500 meters
  • Tom Farrell, 1500 meters
  • Jess Tonn, 5,000 meters
  • Sean Quigley, 5,000 meters

The meet will be broadcast live on USATF.tv here. The broadcast is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. Pacific/9:15 p.m. Eastern.

Chris Solinsky and fellow former Bowerman Track Club member Alan Webb will be adding their expertise to the broadcast. Although this will be Chris’ first USATF.tv broadcast, he’s not a neophyte; he was part of the announcing team for several Nike Cross National webcasts and also helped with an NBC broadcast of the Boston Indoor Games.

“This is a perfect job for me because I am a track junkie and am always reading all I can about the sport,” Chris says. “I am pretty good at knowing what people have done in their career.  I was always the person to inform my teammates about what their competition has done.”

Chris Solinsky, seen here after setting the U.S. 10,000-meter record in 2010, will be on the other end of the mic at Friday’s Oxy Meet in Los Angeles.

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