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October 1, 2009

Paula Radcliffe

Mary Wittenberg

RICHARD FINN: Richard Finn with the New York Road Runners. We have our special guest Paula Radcliff talking to us, I believe, in France or in Spain at her home. I hope hopefully everybody on the call got today's exciting news in the release.
I'd like to turn it over to Mary Wittenberg. Mary?
MARY WITTENBERG: Thank you so much. Hello to Paula and all our friends in the media. This is one of my favorite parts of the job as race director of the ING New York City Marathon. On behalf of our entire team here at New York Road Runners, and many throughout New York City, I'm thrilled to welcome back Paula to New York for our 40th running of the race in the 2009 ING New York City Marathon.
Paula has obtained a larger than life stature here in New York City. When we walk the streets and people ask, whether they're writers or whether they're fans of running or whether they're spectators that learn a lot about running on marathon day, the number one question we're asked these days "Is Paula running?"
And so pleased that at this point we can answer in the affirmative, and we can say that Paula will be back. And our modern day Grete is ready to go and looking forward to vying for, and we're looking forward to her watching to vie for her fourth victory here, which as you all know, would be unprecedented in our rich and really deeply competitive field in our history. So without further adieu, I'll get to the star of the show in Paula. But we're really thrilled to be welcoming you back, Paula.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Thank you. I'm really, really pleased to be coming back, and I'm really looking forward to it. So not a lot today, and I'm really looking forward to coming and I'm ready to be there.
It's been a kind of a long way away from racing for me. And I'm looking forward to going back there to New York. New York in its own right was always very strong. The pull of having a chance to come back for a fourth victory was very, very strong, too. And I think the New York course is a bit of a challenge for me. I don't think I've gotten the better of it yet time-wise, and I'd love to do that, too.
RICHARD FINN: Thank you, Paula. We're going to go down the list. Hopefully, I'll get to everybody. We'll start at the top.

Q. I was just interested in what you just said there that you haven't gotten the better of this course yet. Because you seem to have done well from where I'm standing. Does that mean you think you can go fairly faster?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, I think I've got a good understanding of the course now from the times that I've run it. But I feel that I could and should be able to run faster on it. Obviously, some of that is the quality of the race coming into it. Sometimes if you're looking around at the people around you, you're not going to run as fast. Sometimes it's been the weather, too.
But I do feel the times I have run there have been kind of average. So I would like to go a little faster there.

Q. Following up on that, really, given how long you've been away when you came back in 2007 and all the problems of last year, are you possibly in the best shape you've been in since 2005, would you say? Or is that pushing it?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think it's hard to tell right now because I'm in kind of the best block of mileage and things like that. That is something I'd be better able to gauge when I get into the ease down period and really start sharpening up.
But certainly in terms of the amount of running that I'm able to do in long runs, recovering from those, yeah, probably am. Certainly not having to baby my foot and those kind of things.
RICHARD FINN: Just to clarify, could you tell us where you're calling from?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I'm calling from Indiscernible) up in upper altitude. We came up here a couple of weeks after Berlin.

Q. You're planning to warm up in some ways for this race at the half marathon Birmingham, the world championships. Can you tell me what time there would persuade you you're in the right shape to run a marathon in New York three weeks later in the sort of time that you're, obviously, pushing for?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Well, I mean, I'm not really looking for a time in Birmingham. I think the fact that the World Half Marathon was in Birmingham was kind of a waiting fact towards choosing New York as a marathon this fall, because it gave me the chance to be able to race in a championships in the high country, which is something that I obviously did not want to turn down.
Having said that, the main focus is New York. So it won't be really just trying to run absolutely as fast as you I can. It's more about going and performing well in Birmingham, and using it as a stepping stone towards New York.

Q. I wondered how much you actually missed racing?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Oh, a lot. A real lot. It's just kind of been -- I knew it was going to be a long time coming back from the foot surgery, and I wouldn't be racing quickly. But it was really nice to race in New York. Disappointed again that I couldn't recover in time to race in Berlin. But now just really looking forward to getting out and racing this fall.

Q. Did you actually watch the race in Berlin?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, I watched the second half because I ran that morning.

Q. You stayed on in Berlin?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: No, we came back the Friday. Once I decided that I wasn't recovered well enough to start, we came back to recover with my mom and dad.

Q. How's the foot feeling these days?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: The foot's feeling good, thank you. It's really settled down a lot. I can actually almost forget about it. Only when I go to put on some shoes it feels kind of going out, and I can get my shoes on where I couldn't before. It's just encouraging, I think, really at the end of long runs where I used to be finishing and having to massage it to be able to walk freely on it. Just to forget about that and just to get on with the rest of the recovery, especially after a long run.

Q. What made you decide to defend your title? What was the tipping point for you?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think there were lots of tipping points. I think the pull of New York in its own right. And then, I think the fact that it is the 40th anniversary. It kind of fours. I, would love to get the first title. Lots of things are still goals in my career. I want to go back and win more London, win more in Chicago, obviously, 2012.
But I think to get to nine is as close as I could get to Grete's record, that would mean a lot to me, too. So that was a big factor. Again, like I said, the fact that it meant I could fit in running in Birmingham along the way.
MARY WITTENBERG: I'll add that we're half hosting the call to Paula and it's Grete's birthday.

Q. I just wonder how you look back on this year now? You were talking before the New York Half Marathon about that being tough. Do you still feel this marathon now coming up will be a testing ground?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah. I think any marathon that you race is a testing ground. But I think I kind of knew coming out of the surgery that this year was going to be a stepping stone back. But then it's been that for me so many times and it's gone well so many times. So I guess I'm kind of looking and hoping and planning for that to workout like that again.

Q. And you were kind of hinting at times. You were two seconds after the half marathon course record. Can you tell us what kind of time you're hoping for?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Well, I just think that really on a good day with good conditions that I should be capable of pushing the course record down around 220. I've got I think it's a tough course, but I don't think it's that much slower than London.
So I think between London, Chicago, and New York could be closer. I'd like the chance to be able to go out there and do that.

Q. Can we just go back to where you were pushing the course record? Did you see down to around 2:21?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: No, I think it is. Is it 2:22?

Q. 2:21:31?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think possibly 2:20. I think I'm just under. But it should be nearer to the course record.

Q. Right. What I was going to ask you was what has your training mileage peaked at since the operation?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: My training miles, I haven't really added it up. But it's probably going to be somewhere around 1:45.

Q. Peaked at 1:45?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, somewhere around that. That's not exact. But that's around that.

Q. That would be back up to an all-time peak then? You'd be matching the most of what you've normally done?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, I would say that's probably actually a little bit more. I peaked and didn't recover in time to start in Berlin. I actually picked up a bit of hamstring tendinitis. It didn't stop me training, it just caused me to modify things quite a bit. I ended up having to do more, longer, steadier stuff for a while for it to go back to the faster speed work.

Q. The course record here is 2:22:31. 2 hours, 22 minutes, 31 seconds, set by Margaret Okayo in 2003. Wanted to ask you a little bit about Grete, and your first recollection seeing her and first on TV, and over the years how much contact you've had with her. I know you share physios at least. But what you've gotten to know about her, and I guess your relationship right now?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, my memories of her, my first memories of her are memories of the record she had at the world cross country, I think before I even knew about any victories in New York. At that time I was focused on the world cross country.
And Grete was really one of the icons of cross country running to me. Then the first time I got the chance to meet her in New York was after one of the miles. I can't remember which one. But one of the 5th Avenue miles I did, I got a chance to meet her.
I remember being kind of almost taken back. She almost looked exactly the same as she did when she was racing. Just really picking up on how humble she was. But also the energy of her. Then through the miles I've been lucky enough to have a chance to meet her and get to know her better.
She's just an amazing person. I mean, everything that she's going through and fighting against, and you'd never know it. She's just somebody who loves running, and loves New York, and loves watching the miles, and that really comes over when you meet her.

Q. Is there anything that you've learned from her specifically that you could apply to New York because of, obviously, her experience?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think it's more than just what you'd apply to New York. I think it's what you'd apply to life in general. It's just her positivity, and her fighting spirit, and her just huge strength of character, which I think we could all learn from. It's not just about what happens today or tomorrow, it's about consistency of that. Sort of making it a life journey, and a life's voyage to give your best each time.
MARY WITTENBERG: Just an add on, later today we'll be announcing Grete as one of our marathoners of the decade as part of our 40th running. She's actually on a plane here today, because we have a big race with Grete on Saturday, the Norwegian run here in New York.
So, Paula, I hope we have a British run some day here in New York with you.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Oh, that would be great.

Q. You mentioned your mileage has been almost as high as it's ever been. Do you consider easing back on the mileage?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: To be honest, the training isn't kind of constructed to specific mileage targets each time. I mean, I do add up at the end of the week almost to have a reason. For example, last week was a big mileage week. Kind of when I went out this morning, part of it was I went home with a bad cold, and I think I've got a bit of that. But then I fell a bit flat today. That helps me, and I think that's why because I put in a really big week.
So it's not like each mileage target has to be hit each week. I see it more as the sessions that need to be done. I think that kind of the injuries that I've had over the last couple of years has been for bio mechanical reasons which has been compounded by the amount of mileage, but it's a marathon. There aren't shortcuts you can take and still perform at the level I want to perform at.

Q. You said you have not had any setbacks since Berlin? Since New York?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: No, I just kind of had this hamstring thing. But like I said, it hasn't stopped me actually running and doing the training. If I was getting ready for a short race, I'd be worried. But for a marathon, I'm not.

Q. It's been noted that you're the only person in New York who has won races at all the four major road distances, the mile, the 10K, the half marathon, and the marathon. The half marathon came after your first marathon. I'm just wondering if that seems to you to be part of a natural maturation processor a voyage of discovery of what kind of runner you were or how your feeling is about that journey and that accomplishment?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I'm feeling when looking back when I went there for the first time in 1995 to run the first mile, he I never really thought about whether I'd be there running the marathon. When I went and I'm on the 10K I was definitely thinking that I was on a path to reach the marathon by then.
I'm kind of thinking, yeah, I would love to come to New York and win the marathon here. So I think, yeah, you're right. It's kind of a journey of finding out things about my is self. I always knew that I was better suited to endure, which probably actually worked to my favor in winning the 5th Avenue mile in the first place.
To win a street mile is probably more of my thought at that time than I would have been on the track just because it is a different style of running and racing.
But, yeah. It's something that I think -- I'm probably talking in circles. But it worked to my advantage because I can look back on my career and say I would, and I've kind of fulfilled my potential after each distance.
Also when it comes down to the marathon and you're coming to the final stages as I have done in New York several times. And the fact that I've been a fairly decent miler in my time as well is another kind of decent mile there, which kind of makes me feel stronger going into the closing stages.

Q. I know that it's hard to maybe even define what's normal for your marathon build up in terms of races because of the injuries you've had and motherhood and other interruptions. But going to half marathons, you know, one in the middle of August, and one now as you build up to the marathon, is that the kind of thing you've ever done previously?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: No. I guess previously I've done more 10K's to build up. I've got to get the ideal build up in 2005, 2003, I did 10K's in the build up there. I think this time, honestly, because it is the World Half Marathon and it's in the UK, that I'm probably thinking more about that. Otherwise, I think the kind of 10 mile option, 10K just before has also worked well for me.
I think what's most important is that I kind of keep my -- my mind on the end goal, the big goal of New York. Other things that fit into that they have to fit in and work as a piece of the jigsaw in the training building into it.

Q. Can you sort of speak to the perseverance that you see in Grete? And maybe how you have had to apply similar principles with the trials and tribulations that you've gone through?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Oh, gosh. Well, first of all I think whatever I've gone through is nothing compared to what Grete goes through and is going through in fighting against the cancer and being as strong as she is.
I think little things, really. Just coming back from setbacks with her injury. Then I can't even really see it as a trial to come back from the pregnancy. Because, to me, that was one of the most joyous things I've done giving birth to Isla and having her as a part of our lives now is a really positive thing. So I don't see that as something I have to fight against. I think it's something that helps me.

Q. You've it seems like altitude training is a big part of your race preparation. How does your training change when you're at altitude, if at all?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: That's difficult for me to answer, because all of my American block trainings have been in altitude. So it's kind of all the same. But I've differentiated between Albuquerque, Boulder and here. But I guess the biggest difference is I feel it's somewhere I can come and focus on my training, on my recovery. Do a lot of running off-road. I also feel that here with all the hills really sort of make me strong and help, especially with a course like New York.

Q. Do you have any plans to come back out to boulder or Albuquerque before New York?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: No, not before then.

Q. Thank you. Any other consideration besides New York City when you won the half marathon then decided that you weren't ready for the world half mile. Was there any other marathon in your sights? Did anyone else try to come to you guys and say run our race, not New York City?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, there were many choices, really. Well, four choices. When it came down to it came between Berlin, Chicago, New York, and Yokohama. I guess they were the options I was looking at.
Like I said, the main reasons were all of those races were races that I'd love to do, and that's the hard thing with the marathon. You have to pick one. It was for me the pull of New York. I wanted to go for those four victories there. Also the fact that I could do the world's half and race a little bit more which to me was important.

Q. I'm kind of curious about your great training experiment pre-Beijing, by which I'm referring to the fact that you're apparently doing prodigious amounts of cross training but weren't able to do much running before the Beijing marathon. I'm just curious how much of this pool and other stuff were you doing? And how much running were you able to get in before Beijing? And through 24 this whole process of the cross training, did you learn anything that you can use going forward?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: So the preparation I did before cross training in Beijing. Well, I didn't have much choice because it was about five weeks before that I could start doing any kind of running. And it was really only three weeks before that I was actually running every day.
So I really had to blast out the cross training more than I've ever done. So I really mixed it up. So I would do an hour and a half on the Nordic Ski, then go into an hour and a half in the pool straightaway. An hour on the elliptical, an hour and a half on the Nordic Ski. Things like that.
So I was trying to simulate my marathon training. But because it was cross training, sometimes I just had to be a little bit longer. The way I find easiest to get my heart rate up in the pool was always doing reps, so every time it was just reps in the pool.

Q. Is there any part of the cross training that remains part of your training going forward when you're healthy?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, it is using the Nordic Ski, using the elliptical. That's always been a part of kind of my week of training, really. So it would be usually one, maybe two days in the week where I would just think I'd rest a bit from the morning session, so I'm just going to jump on the machine instead. That kind of enables me to get a cardiovascular workout, but let my legs recover from the pounding a little bit.

Q. We know you've been an Alter G fan or used it in the past. Are you using it going forward?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, yeah. I'm using it all the time. I think that's really been one of the good purchases that I've made in terms of helping my training through. Even with the example of this hamstring tendinitis that I've had. It's helped me to run on level ground.
So I've been doing my temporary runs on that when I couldn't do them outside. Because I didn't want to risk flaring it up. Then just using that again as kind of a recovery strategy. So rhyme running on that 90 to 95%. Just giving my body a chance to recover and stay afresh.

Q. Are you really drinking beet root juice?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I did try it, actually. When the report came out, I did try it. It gave me a little bit of a scare until I realized it was beet root juice coming out the other end. But I don't think made any difference, would say.

Q. Had you gone to the line in Berlin, would you still have run New York?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yes, that wasn't the plan. It would have made it more likely and probably easier to make the decision to go to New York. Because had I gone to the line in Berlin, that obviously ruled out earlier marathons as well. But that was kind of my wish. My hope at the beginning of the year, but I knew it was an outside hope from coming back from.

Q. What are your thoughts about being call aid modern day Grete?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Being called a what?

Q. A modern day Grete as Mary just referred to you?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I still didn't hear it, actually.

Q. How do you feel about being called a modern day Grete?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Oh, I think that's a huge honor. I think if I play halfway to her character, and have the strength of character that she's got and choosing the results that he she he has, that's a big honor to me.
I've always said my idols coming through American running, would be Grete and Marilyn Christensen and Joanie. It's not just from achieved racing, but what they are as people as well, and kind of the personality they bring and the strengths of character.
MARY WITTENBERG: I'll chime in there that all three of those legends will be here on race weekend with Joanie running.

Q. What part of the course in New York challenges you most? Is there a particular part of the course that you're preparing for?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think the whole course challenges you. You have to be prepared for all aspects of it.
Last year was the hardest year to win. And certainly I did find the bridges are something that you kind of need to keep your focus on, because it can be easy to drift off and lose the focus a little bit, because it is so quiet on there.
I think 1st Avenue really lifts you. My favorite part is when you come within distance of the park, and things start to pick up there once you get into the park.

Q. Wanted to ask you now that you're running your third marathon with Isla, not with her, but with her there. If you have figured out how to sort of manage that motherhood, and how you've kind of evolved your career around it?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Well, like I said, I see it as a big advantage. It's part of my life that I'm really, really happy with. It's great to be able to combine the two. I think I'm lucky, really.
If I was working full-time with a child, I probably wouldn't be able to see them as often as I do Isla, if I had any other career. So I think that's really nice.
As she's getting older she's kind of understanding a little bit more. So now she understands that mama goes allez, as she's called it. I don't think she's grasped that's what every mom does. And she knows that's where I'm going, and she comes to hand out drinks.
She's now developed that she wants to run. She wants to join in. So I have to do an extra little bit of a cool down with her.

Q. So she says mama does what again?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Go allez. We are brining her up bilingual. So that's what she says in French.

Q. We hope that Isla's reading is going well?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yes, thank you.

Q. My question is probably partly for Mary, because we've been discussing so much on the pace and the desire for records. Mary, can I take it that New York is adhering to its policy of not having pacing?
MARY WITTENBERG: That's right, Roger. That's correct. No designated pacing.

Q. So, Paula, that means the likelihood is you'll be running much of the race solo. Does that concern you at all?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Well, I don't think that's necessarily a given of the quality of the field there. I think that sometimes a good, quality field can almost be better without pacers anyway. It conflicts with the way with the strong field. Either you can spend a lot of time looking at each other or concentrating on your own race and forget about time, which is most of the time. But sometimes it can also really consist of a faster time, too.
The other thing is I guess a lot of times when I've raced in London, I don't think the pace has lasted past five miles anyway. So I think if you're in shape to do it, sometimes with me it works out better just to get relaxed and get my head down anyway.

Q. Do you see the prospects of another 2:15 anywhere ahead?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: I think that in New York would be a very, very tall order. I would love to, and I think that needs a bigger, stronger build up and perfect conditions and a faster course. But I do think it's possible, yes.

Q. You were disappointed in your time at the New York City Half Marathon and said based on that you didn't do the championships. What was it you actually felt there? Are you doing any tests? What's going to let you know that you're really feeling 100% together besides having an all out half marathon under your belt?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Well, that wasn't the race in Europe wasn't the deciding factor for not starting in Berlin. It was more the fact that I didn't recover, or I came out the last three miles of the race in New York feeling my hamstring getting tight. And I sort of just recovered through that week.
Half marathons are tight, and it didn't. So that is the reason I didn't start in Berlin. And that's what I was talking about. It developed into a bit of a tendonitis. It took a little bit ave while to settle down.

Q. What do you feel about the world championships? Any regret for are not having to run it this year?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: It was a huge disappointment not being able to run it. I think more so when I watched the race it was really, really hard. When the hamstring didn't settle down in ten days or so afterwards, I actually flipped around to being very glad that I hadn't. If I had done that, I probably would have come out of it and I didn't want to have to mentally go through that again. Like everything else the last of years.

Q. Did you have a lot of confidence from the fact that it's been ten extra weeks of training? You were very seriously considering running in the World Championships. Now are you ten weeks fitter than you were August 16 when you won the New York Half Marathon?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah. I mean, I think I do again confidence from that. I think I was always going to be going into Berlin under prepared. Whereas it's nice now being to know I have the time to go in and have the mileage, and it's mostly the long runs are behind me because of the way I kind of built up. I would have been going into Berlin with only like three long runs behind me. Whereas now I've got more than that, and that's helping.

Q. In New York you talked about maybe expanding the family a little bit and having baby number two. I know that's kind of hard to play out exactly. Have you thought maybe when that would fit into your schedule leading up to 2012?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, it's something that I think about a lot. It's, I guess, something that anybody who has a family and combines it with a career like this has to go through. I'm tossing a lot of things around at the moment.
I desperately do want another child. If I could take my fingers and just have one now, I think I would have already done that. But I've also missed racing a lot.
So I have to get things straight in my mind. So I kind of want to get my racing fix, and get what I want family-wise as well. It's juggling both through to 2012. The last thing I would want to be is to come out of 2012 and have the medal I wanted and find out it's too late to have the child I wanted. So it is something that I want to try to fit in before then, and hopefully it can workout like that.

Q. How many long runs do you have in in this last ten weeks? You said three only before the Nike half. And also was the hamstring problem, did it come from bunion surgery? And how is your foot really feeling?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Well, in terms of the long runs, I think I have six have been the long runs today, tomorrow and the day after. So that would be eight by the time I go into New York. And that is the big runs I'm talking about. So what did you say with the hamstring?
The hamstring was kind of very, very indirectly related to my foot, I think, in that I had kind of gotten a little bit of instability from the problems I've had with my foot over the last few years. T.
Hen I've just gotten a bit more active and caused the hamstring to just get tight because my back was basically out when I ran in New York. So that wasn't giving me any pain now, it's just looking back over the last two or three years, I wasn't fully settled when I raced the half.

Q. I know we read about how Paula had a great conversation with Cara the night before the great north run, because Cara has also words of praise for Paula afterwards. I'm wondering since Gina has what Paula wants which is an on little pick medal and Paula has what Gina would love. Which is one New York City title. Have you folks had a chance to chat since 2001?
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Yeah, we chat all the time. We sat down and had a really good chat after the New York half. So, yeah, I've known Gina for a long, long time. We've raced together over all distances. She's a really great person. It's nice to sit down with her and chat.
RICHARD FINN: Thank you for joining us.
MARY WITTENBERG: Just in wrapping, we'll be sharing our marathoners of the decade and champions of the decade this afternoon. Grete, no surprise, will be the woman's winner in the 19 '80s.
It's no surprise, Paula, to share with you that you were voted by a select group of media as our marathoner -- women's marathoner of this decade. So we congratulate you on that, and look forward to seeing you close this decade out with a in a few four weeks from today, from Sunday.
PAULA RADCLIFFE: Thank you very much. I'm really looking forward to it.

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