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October 29, 2015

Tatyana McFadden

New York City, New York

Q.  How much impact it has around the city?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: It has a huge effect. With a marathon, with the amount it's raised for charity, a lot can happen, and especially getting people with disabilities involved and getting involved with running. That's never been done before.
This year we have six new wheelchair racers who are really interested in doing the kids run. Like I said before, it has to start somewhere. For me, I never had that opportunity. It wasn't even like heard of. For those kids to have that, they can have dreams, and they can have possibilities, and they can say, yeah, I can do this, and, yeah, I can become an elite wheelchair racer, or they can do it recreationally, and it's all about health.
What running brings is that it brings a healthy body, which brings a really healthy mind, and self‑esteem goes up, and you're living a healthier, better life for yourself.

Q. Running at the front of the pack, do you ever think about the people in the back? Like you mentioned, all the different recreational runners, like the scope of what the whole day is really. You know, what happens in the back of the pack, in a sense?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Training for my first marathon, I guess I was one of those recreational people because I'd been specifically a Paralympic sprinter only. I'd done 100, 400, 800, and that's it. The 1,500 and 5,000 was unheard of, and the 15,000 and the marathon, I wouldn't even think of doing it.
If it wasn't for my coach in 2009 saying, I really think we should try a marathon, just try it, just have fun. It's going to help you in track events. You'll be stronger. You'll be fitter. And it's led me to here, which is absolutely insane and crazy all at the same time.
And it brings so many other opportunities like working with Team For Kids and really getting involved with the community because marathoning is so community‑based, which I really, really enjoy that, and track doesn't‑‑ it's a different element. It's so different. It's a different group of people. You get to hear different stories all weekend long and how people got involved with running and why they run. 50,000 runners and 50,000 different reasons why people run. So it's amazing.

Q. Tatyana, can you talk a little bit about your preparation for New York and how you're feeling coming into the race.
TATYANA MCFADDEN: It's been a really tough preparation. I had World Championships this year in April, and then our trials were just three weeks ago in Chicago. So the preparation and timing had to be just right for everything to kind of fall in together into pieces. It's been really quite a big year for me.
So I'm feeling pretty good, pretty strong for this year's New York Marathon. I know it's going to be tough, like it is every year. Manuela Schar, she's very, very tough in the climbing and the descending. I knew it was going to be a close race with her, but just staying focused in the race and doing what I'm really strong at, and that's climbing, and see what happens.

Q. How did having these extra races with trials and things like that impact your whole‑‑ how does it change things for you?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Peaking, I think that changes a lot. We had to peak around April for the London Marathon, which is our World Championship. You kind of come back down and then elevate and have to peak again for trials in Chicago. It's been really, really tough. The training's been really, really long and different training cycles to prepare for different types of races.
London is really, really flat. Boston is not. Chicago is relatively flat, but New York is not. So it's just putting everything together.

Q. What changes do you make in your training log to account for those differences in course style?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Lots of tempo work for the longer distances, lots of hill climbing, and lots of work on turning and different exercises on the track for higher speed and higher volume to prepare for the sprints as well as lifting during the fall, that's our heavy time lifting. Lightweight lifting, recovery lifts during the spring until now.

Q. Can you sort of talk a little bit about like this three year run, where you've run every World Marathon Major race. Is it remarkable when you kind of look back on it yourself?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: It's definitely remarkable. I feel like Serena Williams or something. It's really been quite a year and really a fun journey so far. It's about pushing the sport and pushing myself and seeing how much I can do and really pushing my body. It's been absolutely incredible and so much fun.
I'm only 26 years old, and to have this underneath my belt is just amazing, and I think it's brought so much to this sport, and the media has been so wonderful. I love every minute of it.

Q. How would you say you're different as an athlete now in comparison to where you were when you completed your first race?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Completed my first marathon?

Q. Your first marathon and your first slam.
TATYANA MCFADDEN: I'm definitely, I think, much better since my very first marathon. I'm definitely probably wiser strategically and knowing my competitors a little bit more, knowing the course a little bit more, knowing my own strength and weaknesses. That just comes with time and just really learning about myself and my body and what I really can do and trying to push the limits.
So each race is always a learning curve. I'm always going to learn from something during each race because it's always going to be different. Weather's different. Competitors that are coming in sometimes are different. So it's always a great learning curve.

Q. When you're on a winning streak like this, obviously, hard work and training and preparation is a big part of it, but everything's really got to break right as well. There's a certain luck factor involved in not blowing tires, things like that. Can you sort of speak to how difficult it is for all those things to line up race after race after race?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: A lot does go into a race, not only training and time of preparation. Not having equipment failures is always really great and always very helpful, but just that will and that drive and the hard work. I just really do have a heart for racing and heart for this sport, and I think it shows what I'm racing, just always just really just having fun.
I've had races‑‑ I was on a streak where I flatted and blew tires, but I was able to change them pretty fast, or I was able to finish in the top three or top four. So it's just really getting back into the race if that happens and just remember to have fun. I'm only 26. My career is going to go on for several, several more years and I can see where everything takes me.

Q. What would it mean for you to win this race on Sunday a third time and complete another slam?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: It would be‑‑ no one's ever done that in the history of marathoning. So it would be wonderful to be in the history books. It's absolutely unbelievable to be able to do this. It's a lot of runners have gotten three in a row but never four in a row or two in a row because anything can happen in a race.
So it's just been‑‑ yeah, it would be unbelievable. It would be the first time in history to keep that going.

Q. It's funny that you brought up Serena Williams a couple minutes ago. When people talk about the most dominant female athlete in the world, she's probably one that's uttered first, but in reality, it's probably you.
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Oh, I don't know.

Q. Do you see yourself kind of in that conversation?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: I mean, she's definitely my role model. She is a strong female character, and I've always looked up to her when I was younger because she's dominated the tennis world for years, since she started, I think, probably around like 14 years old. She's never really lost a match ever.
If she can do it, I can do it, and that's what I really hope to bring to the public eye, to be that dominant and to have people know more about our sport and to know more about the wheelchair racers. That would be my dream.

Q. How many of these things do you think you can win?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: I don't know, it's tough. It gets tougher every year. So we'll see.

Q. So we talked the other day on the phone about your pre‑race ritual, braiding your hair, which is just the best. Do you have any other things, a standard, what time do you wake up? What do you eat in the morning? Is it all a routine for you?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Yeah, it's pretty much a routine. I usually wake up probably on race day, like 4:15‑ish because we have to be eating breakfast by like 5:00 and then heading on the bus by like 5:30. So I want to give myself always enough time in the morning just to get hydrated and to really get ready for the race.

Q. Do you always eat the same thing?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: It really depends. Usually, I eat the same thing, something really light. Like oatmeal or anything about butter, like toast or a banana. It kind of depends what I'm feeling or what my nerves are in the morning.

Q. Is one food a more nervous food than others?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Whatever's easiest to get down. You have to eat. So whatever's easiest to get down.

Q. Do you have anything else, anything you always‑‑ like you braid your hair. Anything you always wear?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Usually I wear a cross necklace that I got from Russia when I went back in 2011. I usually always have that on.

Q. Did someone give that to you in Russia?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Yeah, so the cross is from my mom at a church, and the necklace is from my birth mom she gave me that year.

Q. So you wear a necklace from both of your moms when you race?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Yes, I carry them with me.

Q. Who are your inspirations?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: My inspirations. I think definitely my family, my coach. And from an athlete's perspective, I would say Serena Williams. She's been such a dominant female, and she's really pushed sports in the tennis world, and I really want to do the same for wheelchair racing to push that and to have the public go wow, I really love to watch wheelchair racing and just be fascinated, just like everyone is in awe of tennis and really knows her. That's what I really hope for wheelchair racing.

Q. Ever meet Serena?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: No, I want to. That would be amazing.

Q. Last book you read?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: The last book I read. Well, I'm writing my own book. So I've been reading that. The book will come out around February, kind of it's going to be a children's book, and it kind of just takes me through the journey of my life and what my disability is and what Paralympic is and the excitement of marathoning and training for that.
I think for a children's book it's easy to read and it's easier to understand, and I think that will really help push the sport more and disability awareness more.

Q. What's the title of the book going to be?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: We're working on it. It's going to probably be "Ya Sama," which in Russian is "I can do it myself."

Q. Greatest moment of your career?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: So many. Winning a gold medal at the Paralympic Games, being the first to have a grand slam victory, and winning a silver at the Sochi Paralympic Games in cross country skiing.

Q. Most painful moment of your career?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Most painful‑‑ so many. Getting sixth in the 100 meters in Beijing. And I almost didn't qualify for the Sochi Paralympics. It took that one last competition and one last World Championship to land me on the team.

Q. Favorite places to compete?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Somewhere warm. I loved Athens. It was beautiful. Japan is wonderful as well. It's so different. Great people. Switzerland is beautiful.

Q. Do you have a funny memory from competing in your career?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: I don't know. That's a tough one. I remember when I was younger, I would always eat like a bunch of Skittles before I raced, and people would always like laugh at me eating a bunch of candy before I raced when I was starting out in wheelchair racing. I thought it was fast food and energy food, but that's all changed now.

Q. You've competed in a lot of races in your life. Is there a strangest race where something weird or unusual may have happened?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: When I was in high school on the track, we were doing the 1,500, and I was going for the world record, and I was out in front. We were lapping the other competitors, and there was a severe crash that was caused. So that was definitely a tough, tough moment right there. I was the only one that didn't get up and lost that world record that day, but that was kind of the strangest moment, just the way I didn't bounce back up. Yeah, I lost that title.

Q. Where did that happen at?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: It happened at a track meet in Atlanta back in like maybe 2006, 2007, a long time ago.

Q. Favorite sport you like?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: I love our women's soccer team. I think they're absolutely amazing. Very, very powerful women, do great things, and they are absolutely unstoppable.

Q. Three athletes that you like to watch and follow?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Alex Morgan, Serena Williams, and I love Abby Wambach as well.

Q. Last vacation you went on?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: I went to St. Maarten about a year ago.

Q. Favorite ice cream flavor?

Q. You've won the last two times here. What's different about this year coming in? Has your preparation been any different?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: I think what's really unique this year is it's a year out from the games. I already have qualifications underneath my belt from the marathon course. So having that ticket to Rio is so exciting. So it's been really quite a year. Being a World Champion for the marathons is also really exciting next April. And being a part of Team For Kids. This is the first time ever that we have six kids involved for wheelchair racing, and I really hope that doubles next year and we can get more people involved.

Q. So you're already qualified for the marathon for Rio. Does that take any pressure off? Do you feel kind of freer?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Yes and no. I still have qualifications next year for the track portion. So a lot more work to do, especially in the springtime. Yeah, I'm still always going, going, going, which is really fun and exciting.

Q. What keeps your motivation up this season after such a wonderful season last season? I think they said 11 straight victories. It's got to be tough keeping training going and going and going and not‑‑ last vacation was a year ago.
TATYANA MCFADDEN: It's exciting. It's about pushing the sport, pushing yourself. New York is my last marathon. So I really want to go out strong. I know it's going to be really, really tough, and the preparation is going to be tough, but I just want to make it a marathon. So I want to do well.

Q. This is your last one for the season, right?

Q. So you haven't really changed your training or changed it in any method lately?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: No, I haven't. After Chicago we tapered just a little bit, and then we got back into it. But, yeah, not too much tapering because the marathons are so close.

Q. Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics, and on top of that you went back to school and did all kinds of stuff. You have won 11 straight major marathons, right?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Thank you. It's been amazing.

Q. What was the first marathon you won?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: In 2009 at the Chicago Marathon.

Q. So that's part of your streak of 11 straight?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: No, I had a break.

Q. So when did you start your streak?

Q. 2 1/2 years winning everything in sight, huh?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Yeah, it's crazy.

Q. After this, you're probably going to have Boston, and then the Olympics.
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Yeah. So this year's been quite a year. I had World Championships at the London Marathon and then qualifications in Chicago for that marathon. So I already have my ticket to Rio, which is absolutely amazing. And next year I'll probably do Boston and probably do London and then really get ready for qualifications for that summer. And then coming back, we'll see if I do Chicago. We'll see. After the Games, it's always really, really tough.

Q. What distance do they do at the Olympics?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: I'm hoping to do six events. It will be the first time in history any Paralympic has covered that amount of distance. So I'll do the 100, 400, 800, 1,500, 5,000, and the marathon at the end.

Q. Have you always done the marathon?
TATYANA MCFADDEN: Last Games in 2012 was my first time doing the marathon.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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