When your first marathon puts you on the Olympic team and your third wins you a bronze medal, it’s hard to know where to go next.
Molly Seidel, 27, continued her historic Olympic performance by finishing today’s New York City Marathon in fourth place and first in America. Her time of 2:24:42 is a personal best, breaking the 2:25:13 she ran in London last year, and also improves on Kara Goucher’s course record of 2:25:53, set in 2008.
And it’s all the more remarkable given that, as she revealed in the post-race press conference, Seidel broke two ribs about a month ago. She didn’t give details of the cause of the injury, but said it was sometimes so painful that she considered not lining up at all.
In the end, after a lot of muscle work, heat therapy, and candid conversations with his physical therapist and trainer, Jon Green, Seidel decided that running wouldn’t further damage his health or hamper his ability to compete – and that, in the end, she had poured too much into it to walk away.
“It was difficult to come out of the Olympics and mentally come back to this build,” she said. “I invested too much in this, I really want to do it. It means a lot to me to do it no matter what it turns out to be. “
So she lined up in her bright yellow kit and the Puma Deviate Nitro Elite Spectra, the same shoe she wore in Sapporo, and ran aggressively. She maintained her position in the lead pack for much of the race, breaking the 30km mark in 1:42:44, a pace of 5:31.
When Olympic gold medalist and future winner Fathers Jepchirchir and Ethiopian riders Ruti Aga and Ababel Yeshaneh first moved away from the larger field just after, Seidel briefly lost contact and then caught up.
Her goal from the start was to run as hard as she could, said Seidel, and thanked her trainer Green for “keeping my mental state where I was, even though I was in pain. I was able to go out and do these movements. Her approach, she said, is always bold: “You’ve got to go see what you can do, kind of have that attitude of, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. “
But as Jepchirchir continued to pick up her pace – she covered 35 to 40 km in 16:39, joined by Yeshaneh and Kenyan Viola Cheptoo – Seidel was ultimately unable to match her. At 20 miles, she had fallen back to fifth place, 13 seconds behind the leaders. She ran much of the rest of the race on her own, finishing just over two minutes behind third place Yeshaneh (2:22:52).
At this point, Seidel said, she focused on not letting the women behind her catch up and looking at her watch to keep up. “It can be very difficult when you get that separation at that point and knowing the podium is up there you’re not going to realistically catch up with them,” she said.
Fifth Avenue, in particular, was a challenge. But the energy of the crowd kept her pushing, and she finished almost a minute and a half ahead of fifth, Helalia Johannes of Namibia, who ran in 2:26:09. Seidel’s ribs hurt, especially later in the race, but didn’t limit her lung capacity or affect her stride, she said.
On August 7, Seidel won the bronze medal in the Olympic marathon in 2:27:46. Seidel said The runner’s world before the race that, just as she could put a poor performance into perspective, she tried not to dwell too much on her successes.
“You take a while to really celebrate it and enjoy it, but then you want to be able to move on and say to yourself, okay, what’s next? ” she said. The medal “is a cool marker of all the hard work we have put into it. But it just encouraged me to work even harder.
By us, she means herself and her trainer, Jon Green, “the reason I have a marathon career,” she said. He’s only 26 himself; the pair started out as friends and teammates at the Freedom Track Club in Boston. When she left the group in 2019, he started writing down her workouts. She is the first athlete he coached, although he is now also the the head coach Atalanta NYC, an elite training group created by professional runner Mary Cain.
Seidel’s build-up was much more compressed than her training cycle for the Games, she said ahead of time, with a focus on maintaining her fitness while preparing her body and mind. to compete again. She peaked at 130 miles per week, but didn’t stay there that long.
Seidel was an outstanding runner from her early years in Hartland, WI; she won the Gatorade National Female Cross Country Runner of the Year in high school. During her college career at Notre Dame University, she won four NCAA titles in 2015 and 2016.
Her strong performance in New York further consolidates her on the list of great American long distance runners. And, that marks a bit of a loop moment for Seidel, who said she would watch the race every year after meeting her state in Wisconsin.
“I’ve always dreamed of doing this race,” she said. In 2017, she placed second at the USATF 5K Championships the day before the marathon; she also won the NYRR Midnight Run on December 31 of the same year.
After those races, she was walking through Central Park and thinking to herself, “One day, I hope I can run the whole race. And it’s so special to be able to finish fourth for the first time I’m doing it. “
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