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October 30, 2015

Amanda McGrory

New York City, New York

Q. Strange story I'm doing on the Mylar blankets.

Q. Do you remember the first race you did when you got one of those?
AMANDA MCGRORY: So I'm going to tell you honestly I have never used one. So I'm probably not a good person to ask.

Q. Do they give them to you?
AMANDA MCGRORY: So I just, I've never taken one from the finish. They're usually offered often, but I've never taken one.

Q. So what do you do if it's cold? What do you do to stay warm after the race?
AMANDA MCGRORY: So unlike the runners who strip down and run in like teeny tiny shorts and a teeny tiny tank top, most of the wheelchair athletes, if it's cold out, we keep sleeves on. It takes us a little bit longer than runners to warmup because it's not the same full body, everything is working out, and it's a little bit harder for us to stay warm.
So I normally like, I'll wear a couple layers. Last year I'm pretty sure I wore two or three layers of Under Armour.

Q. Do you know what the fabric is?
AMANDA MCGRORY: It's like a polyester compression, just to stay warm. And so when we finish, we don't freeze immediately.

Q. It's a little bit different.
AMANDA MCGRORY: It's a little bit different for us.

Q. You must see the people walking around after the race, it's hilarious.
AMANDA MCGRORY: All of them. And the people at the start have the trash bags on.

Q. It's inventive.
AMANDA MCGRORY: I can understand if you're going to take layers off and don't want to lose them.

Q. How many times have you done this race?
AMANDA MCGRORY: I have done‑‑ I think this will be my tenth New York. I've won it twice.

Q. Looking forward to it? Everything going well? Training's been good?
AMANDA MCGRORY: Everything's going well. Speaking of cold weather, it's supposed to be nice. I always race better when it's warm.

Q. You're a warm weather athlete?
AMANDA MCGRORY: I'm definitely a warm weather athlete. If I don't have to put three layers on to keep myself warm, then I'm good with that.

Q. Do other wheelchair athletes, do they take them?
AMANDA MCGRORY: Not often. There's a handful of athletes who will race in sleeveless vests or short sleeves, and they'll normally throw a shirt at the beginning. I know for the top finishers at New York you're given a jacket. I can't say I've ever seen a wheelchair athlete with one.

Q. Maybe a couple times if someone comes in late and real, real cold.

Q. Even for the runners, it's like a stop gap until they get their jacket.
AMANDA MCGRORY: Something to put on. I think it's more‑‑ I don't know how often the elites use them versus the all comers.
I see more people, like when the masses start to come through, you see this wave of shiny silver coming in.

Q. Enjoying New York? How long have you been in town?
AMANDA MCGRORY: Love it. We came in late on Tuesday. We had some delays. There was a little bit of a storm coming in. So yesterday morning one of the men, Josh and I, went and talked to a school as Popeye and Olive Oil for Halloween. So that was good.
And then he and I are both doing opening ceremonies tonight at the park. So that should be fun.

Q. Weather is cooperating. Should be nice out.
AMANDA MCGRORY: In ten years, I think this is the nicest year ever.

Q. This is unseasonably warm.
AMANDA MCGRORY: Chicago was like this too just last month. You know what, the spring races were cold and miserable. Boston was cold and wet. London was cold and wet. We were due for nice weather.

Q. I guess just generally what are your expectations for Sunday?
AMANDA MCGRORY: Expectations are always, always high. So I'm hoping for a top three finish, which is very good in a field like this. It's a super strong field of women. And then with the Chicago‑New York Challenge on top of that, it makes the stakes a little bit higher.
I've been fourth the past two years, and I would like to bump it up one spot, if possible.

Q. How specifically is wheelchair racing different for the New York Marathon?
AMANDA MCGRORY: The New York City Marathon course is by far the most difficult course we race all year. It's a lot of climbing, a lot of turning. The road conditions in New York aren't necessarily the best. Watching out for bumps and potholes and then the turns, climbing hills, all of that makes it very technical.

Q. What specifically in the turns is the hardest part?
AMANDA MCGRORY: It's difficult for us to keep our momentum around the turn. A lot of them are tight 90 degree turns. At the bottom of a pretty steep descent. So we've got to be aware of who's around us as well as the road conditions, in terms of stopping, using steering to make your turns, and then pushing again. If you're a strong turner, it's a great place to attack, of course.

Q. Are you a strong turner?
AMANDA MCGRORY: I'm okay on the turns. I'm not a great with downhills. New York is great because most of the downhills end with a turn. So the athlete that's coast well, they don't get a chance to pick up speed and roll out to the bottom of those hills. So it works to my advantage.

Q. Hadn't thought of that.

Q. So what is the most critical, steep, high speed turn?
AMANDA MCGRORY: So the most critical high speed turn is the bottom of 59th street bridge, absolutely. It's tight, and it comes up on you really, really fast.
And then as far as like the most critical part of the race is straight off the start. You've got to climb cold off the beginning, and then a big long downhill. And then when you hit the bottom of that‑‑ when you hit the bottom of the Verrazano and you've got to start pushing with all the lactic buildup from climbing, and then tucking down the hill, it burns.

Q. But then you get that long straightaway, and you can just sort of settle into a pace?
AMANDA MCGRORY: That's probably one of the only places on the course where you can settle into a pace, where it's not turning and climbing or up and down.
But for a lot of us who don't coast well down the hill, that's our one opportunity to close any gaps that have been made on the first downhill.

Q. I always see you guys out there at the front. It's so exciting because it's the first to come through.

Q. I guess it's got to be a pretty special feeling.
AMANDA MCGRORY: It's unlike anything else. Coming up over the bridge, and then when you come down‑‑ because there's nobody up there. It's not until you come down off the bridge that you start to see people and settle into a pack a little bit. It's so cool. And then on a nice day, especially like Sunday, it's supposed to be pretty nice, I think that the crowd support should be phenomenal.

Q. We heard rumors about wind, and you had a scare a couple years ago on a windy course. Was it this one?
AMANDA MCGRORY: Oh, I almost went over the side of the Verrazano here a few years ago.

Q. At lunch somebody was talking about it.
AMANDA MCGRORY: In 2009, it was wet off the start, and I hit the downhill, and I hit an expansion grid on the bridge the wrong way and flatted both tires and just completely lost control going almost 30 miles an hour. So I bailed, and I slid one way across the road, and my chair like flipped and spun on its side the other way.
Thank goodness, Tatyana got scared and hit her brakes behind me because, if not, I would have taken out the whole women's field with me.
So then I got in the lead vehicle, and I got to watch the race from the front, and they never took the timing chip off my chair. So it took me like 65 minutes to run the first 5K or something, and then I was running like 45‑second miles as we were chasing down the lead pack, and it had me in the front. People were calling in, how is Amanda ahead of Kurt? What's going on here?

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