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November 1, 2016
New York, New York
STUART LIEBERMAN: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. We are here on our TCS New York City Marathon teleconference, and we are very excited for all of our race week media events this week. Feel free to check us out on our website at NYRR.org/mediacenter, if you haven't already. All of our events coming up are listed there.
This is the 40th running of the five borough course this year, and our pro athlete fields will feature a world class group of 19 Olympians and 27 Paralympians, including a special guest who we have on the line today, Gwen Jorgensen, a U.S. Olympic champion in the triathlon, who will be making her marathon debut.
With that, I will hand it over to Sam Grotewold, our senior manager of pro athletes.
SAM GROTEWOLD: Thank you for joining us this afternoon. We first -- here at New York Road Runners, first met Gwen two years ago when she came to New York on Marathon Weekend and ran our Dash to the Finish 5K the morning before the marathon and won the race, running away from Olympians on the track and others.
It was there at the finish line of that race in the driving rain that we first started talking to Gwen about maybe running the marathon someday. We're so happy she's chosen this year and thrilled that she's going to be doing it as the Olympic champion in the triathlon.
This is a really intriguing debut for us. We've had top athletes in other sports run the TCS New York City Marathon. We've had top athletes in other sports run the marathon at the height of their athletic careers. But we've never had an athlete before say, I'm going to jump in, dive in head first, and stick my nose in it and try to compete against the best athletes in the world, and Gwen is doing that. So we're really, really excited and intrigued to see what happens on Sunday.
It's been a little bit of an unconventional approach. While most athletes were putting their feet up over the weekend, Gwen was, of course, competing in the Island House Triathlon in the Bahamas. It's a grueling three-day competition, and she won the race. She's back home in Minnesota now and hopefully putting her feet up now.
Gwen, welcome. Anything you'd like to say?
GWEN JORGENSEN: Yeah, thank you, Sam. It's nice to be here. I'll take some of your questions. I do have my feet up currently. It's the beauty of being able to do this teleconference via phone. So thank you for that.
I'm really excited to do the New York City Marathon. Like Sam touched on, two years ago I was in New York, and I was able to experience the New York City Marathon. I've been wanting to do marathons for quite a few years, and once I was actually at the New York City one, I just got really excited, and I wanted to do it. I couldn't do a marathon leading up to the Olympic games. So it just seemed like after the Olympics, it was a perfect time to do one.
So I'm really excited. I am here to answer questions.
Q. Hi. I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about the shift in your training, what you were doing specifically for running leading up to the Olympic triathlon, what was your longest long run? Were you doing intervals on the track to prepare for the 10K portion of that? And now that you're preparing for -- or close to the New York City Marathon, how long has your longest long run been? And are you still incorporating biking and swimming into your marathon prep?
GWEN JORGENSEN: Yeah, thanks for your question. Leading up to the Olympic games, my longest run ever was about 12 miles long, and we would do maybe two workouts a week. The Olympic triathlon at Rio was a little bit different than other triathlons I had done. There was a big hill on the bike course, so we were actually doing a lot of runs fatigued. So a lot of longer efforts than normal.
Normally, the three years before that, when I was training for a triathlon, we were doing a lot of 1Ks. Sometimes we'd go to the track. But leading into Rio, we actually did more longer efforts, 2K efforts or build tempo runs and always on fatigued legs. So maybe that will be good for the marathon because my legs will be pretty fatigued, I'm assuming.
Since the Olympics, I've had a (indiscernible) triathlon, and I sat down with my coach Jamie Turner, and we decided there's no way in four or five weeks that we could just change everything we do and strictly become a marathon runner. That would risk injury, I would think. So we've decided to continue swimming and biking, and what I've been doing could maybe be seen as unconventional.
Like Sam mentioned, I did a triathlon this past weekend, and it was a three-day event. It can be quite fatiguing, but at the same time, for me, it's what I'm used to. I'm used to swimming, biking, and running. So I think it was maybe unconventional, but I think it was the best thing for me.
I look at someone like Nicola Spirig, who was an Olympic champion in triathlon in 2012, and a few weeks before the Olympics she did a 70.3 triathlon, which a lot of people thought was crazy, but then three weeks later she won Olympic gold. I think sometimes an unconventional route may not seem like it's the best, but everyone is so individualistic, and what I needed to do leading into this race.
I guess a little bit how my training has changed since the Olympics and now going forward into the marathon is my longest run now -- I've been increasing it slowly. My longest run has been 16 miles. My coach has given me about one marathon workout a week. I would say I've done four marathon workouts at 10 miles, and I've done three workouts where each one was three by 7K, and that's kind of -- that's been a new experience. On those three by 7Ks, I've been practicing grabbing a water bottle and drinking out of it at race pace. That has all been new to me. So I've incorporated that a little bit into my training as well.
Q. Thank you for the call. I'm wondering, what is your goal for the marathon?
GWEN JORGENSEN: That's a great question, and one I get asked probably the most. For me, something that's really exciting about the marathon is it's not like any other triathlon race or race I've done for the past four years. I feel like every race I go into, I have expectations, and I know from my training what I can accomplish. For the marathon, I just have no idea.
I have way too much respect for the marathon, not only the distance but the New York City course. You know how it's kind of hilly and hard going over all the bridges. So I just have so much respect for not only the course but the marathon distance, that I'm not setting any goals or expectations. I have no idea what's going to happen on race day.
I did a ten mile race a couple weeks ago. So in the marathon, every step over ten miles is going to be a new experience, and I have no idea what's going to happen. For me, that's part of the excitement as well of the marathon is just it's such an unknown, and this race is different than anything I've done in the past with relating to the distance. So that's intriguing for me and exciting, and I'm smiling just thinking about it right now.
Q. Hi, Gwen. I'm wondering, the last few weeks before the marathon, what has been your weekly running mileage? And how many days per week do you run? How does that compare to your normal triathlon training?
GWEN JORGENSEN: You're testing me because I've been -- ever since I started triathlon, I've been doing everything in kilometers instead of miles. I knew I'd get asked what my longest run was. So I converted that. So I knew it was 16 miles. But now for my weekly mileage, I'm going to give it to you in kilometers. So sorry for making a little work for you to have to convert it.
For triathlons, I averaged 50 to 70K a week of running, and I'd run probably anywhere from six to nine times a week. And since then, I've probably stayed about the same, running in frequency about six to nine times a week, but keeping my run volume on the higher end. So more like 70 to 80 kilometers a week.
I think another question -- you didn't really ask this, but another question I get asked a lot is I did that triathlon race this past weekend, and everyone was like, well, don't you need to taper? But I think, if you look at my run volume, I don't really run enough to have a huge taper. I just don't have that base mileage.
So for me, we've been slowly increasing the mileage but not too insanely. Does that answer your question?
Q. Yeah, absolutely. I was also wondering, you ran that ten-miler a couple of weeks ago, and that was a really terrific result. What were your thoughts on that? Were you surprised by how high up the field you finished and how fast you ran?
GWEN JORGENSEN: Oh, incredibly surprised. I did that ten mile race, and I thought, well, this could be good prep for a marathon. It was right in my backyard basically. I ran down streets that I run on in training when I'm home in Minnesota. So it seemed like a no brainer to enter it.
For me, I was just like I'm going to try to go with the leaders and see what happens. I was shocked at how well I did. But at the same time, during the race I felt my muscles getting sore, which was a new experience for me. I pulled up pretty sore after that race as well. I think it showed me that the marathon is really going to be difficult on my muscles, but it also gave me a little bit of confidence, I'd say.
I think I've been doing -- I think I touched on this earlier, but before Rio, I'd been doing a lot of strength workouts and not a lot of speed workouts in running to prepare for the Olympics, and I felt like I didn't have a lot of speed. I went and did that race, and it gave me -- I surprised myself, and I really didn't think I was going to run that quickly or run that well. Yeah, it was very surprising, but at the same time, it made me really respect how long the marathon will be.
Q. Hi, Gwen. Thanks for talking to us today. I know you said in the past you have a desire to start a family at some point. Are we going to see you competing in triathlons in 2017, and also at the 2020 Olympics? Do you want to go for that?
GWEN JORGENSEN: I do want to start a family, and that's something -- it's one of the few things in the world that still you can't plan. So it's kind of exciting. But I guess what I'd say is the goal is out, and Patrick and I are trying. We'll see what happens. If I'm able to get pregnant, and if I get pregnant, I would take a year off and do that.
But I think there's been a lot of women in sports, in triathlon, you know, you have Nicola Spirig, and in running you have people like Kara Goucher, who have had a kid and come back and done sport. For me, that's really been inspirational and been something that's been amazing for me to look up to these women who have been able to start a family and come back to sport.
Four years ago, I wouldn't have thought it was possible to be able to have a child and get back into sport and be successful, but I think having these other women as mentors and people to look up to has really been inspiring for me, and it's really allowed me to pursue every passion I want, which is to have a family and to go to Tokyo 2020.
Q. And a quick followup on that. You mentioned Nicola. I know you don't have a goal, but are you aware of the time that Nicola and Vanessa Fernandes ran in their marathons?
GWEN JORGENSEN: I know my husband Patrick has told me. Patrick just told me that Anne Haug, who has done pretty well in triathlon, just ran a marathon this past weekend as well, and he told me her time. I still can't remember it.
Do you want to tell me? I can't remember.
Q. Yeah, I've got them right here actually. Vanessa Fernandes was 2:31.25 in her first marathon, but that came in 2015, four years after her triathlon career. Spirig, let's see, her first -- let's see. Her first marathon 2014, so kind of during a little break for her, was 2:42.53.
GWEN JORGENSEN: I think with those women as well, Nicola has done different training than me. She's done longer course triathlons and probably was running longer in training than I have been. I think everyone is completely different. To be able to look at them and say they can do it gives me a little hope that I can at least get across that finish line on Sunday.
Q. Have you talked to any other professional running coaches, or have you entirely leaned on Jamie for this?
GWEN JORGENSEN: For training, I've strictly been working with Jamie for training. I'm kind of like a super fan in the running world. So I've actually been talking to people like Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan and people like that for a couple of years. Just through like Instagram and Twitter and things like that.
So for me, I started running when I was in college, I'd say, and ever since then, I've kind of followed the sport of running and those athletes. For me, it's just interesting to be a part of -- to follow their careers and to see their thoughts and things like that.
But for training, strictly been going off of Jamie. We didn't want to change too much. I think I've kind of said this before, but I just couldn't change everything in four or five weeks at the risk of injury. So we just kind of stuck with still swimming, still biking, and just kind of slowly increase the run mileage and do one marathon type workout a week.
Q. Hi, Gwen. I was hoping you could take us through both the timeline and then the thought process behind wanting to do the marathon. If the bug was first put in your head a couple years ago at that 5K, what was the time line before really committing to this process?
GWEN JORGENSEN: The bug was before, actually, that 5K in New York. I was running in college, and I just really enjoyed running. I thought the marathon is a very iconic event that everyone knows about, and it's just a very iconic event. Ever since college, I'd say I wanted to do one.
I started -- in college, I wasn't running that much either because I got into the sport late. I didn't start running until my junior year in college. It was kind of a slow build into mileage. Right out of college, it would have been kind of silly to do a marathon, and I started training for a triathlon.
Out of the three disciplines -- swim, bike, and run -- running is my favorite, and it brings me the most peace and joy. So for me, I've just wanted to do a marathon, and every opportunity I've had the past four years in triathlon, I've done road races and things like that, just because I love it. We knew we couldn't do the marathon leading into the Olympics. So it seemed like perfect timing to do one after the Olympics.
I decided to do it -- it was before the Olympics, I had decided I'm going to do a marathon, but I did not adjust my training at all before the Olympics.
Q. Did you know it would be the New York City Marathon before the Olympics?
GWEN JORGENSEN: Yes.
Q. Hi, Gwen. I wonder if doing this marathon, in the back of your mind, if stepping up to do Ironman distance might be there.
GWEN JORGENSEN: Yeah, that's another common question I get and no. I have a lot of respect for the Ironman athletes and 70.3 athletes, but it's something that does not really appeal to me. Even this past weekend, I did a three-day race, and it was a shorter distance, anywhere from a sprint to an Olympic distance total over the three days, but it was all on a non drafting bike, and that's a different animal, I'd say. You have to train differently for it. For me, I feel like I've found my niche in ITU draft-legal triathlon, and going to non draft or longer distance is not something that appeals to me at the moment.
Q. As a followup, you say that you've been on social media with Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan. Have they given you any particular advice about running this race? They've both done it.
GWEN JORGENSEN: Yeah, I've talked to them, and one advice is don't drink too much coffee on race morning because you have to use the toilet too much. And another one is to just make sure you fuel properly. That's something that as well my nutritionist that I work with has told me. When I heard that from the top pro runners as well, I thought that's something I really need to practice. That's why I started doing these longer marathon workouts and practiced drinking and grabbing a water bottle and running with the water bottle and drinking. That's something I've never had to do before.
So it's been some great advice. Still, there's a lot of unknowns and things that I don't really know what to expect. But we're trying to do as much as we can to hopefully prepare me for race day.
Q. I was wondering, could you rank your abilities in the three triathlon disciplines for me.
GWEN JORGENSEN: Like I think what you're asking is running is my strongest. I'd say -- it's hard between the swim and the bike. So I have to work really, really hard at swimming. When I first joined my coach Jamie Turner, I was in the pool three times a day, and he's really been able to develop my swim. So I would probably say that's -- it's probably a tie between my swim and my bike right now on which one's the best. Is that what you're asking?
Q. You said running was your strongest, right?
GWEN JORGENSEN: Correct, yes.
Q. Has that just come naturally to you? You said you didn't start running until your junior year of college.
GWEN JORGENSEN: Yeah, I think I have -- my physique is not really like a swimmer's physique. So I think that's why I've had to work really hard at swimming, whereas running, I think my body is just more naturally a run body. It's something that I obviously -- I've been swimming my entire life, since I was 8 years old, and I have a really good aerobic base from that, and I think that helped carry over when I started running.
Running, I definitely -- for instance, in college, I was at the University of Wisconsin, and I was on their D1 team in swimming but never made NCAAs, never scored at Big Tens. But within my first full year of running at UW Madison, I was NCAA All-American, I was scoring at Big Ten. So I think that was more of a natural talent in there, but I definitely had to work to develop it.
Q. I'm just wondering how quickly you are able to make the pivot mentally from winning Olympic gold and having achieved something that had been your goal for many years to like an entirely new competitive endeavor that requires a lot of commitment. Are you sort of taking the approach that whatever happens in this marathon, your year has been a huge success, and this is kind of the icing on the cake? Or are you really taking this seriously where, if you don't have a good run, you'll be disappointed?
GWEN JORGENSEN: Doing the marathon is something that's been exciting for me because it's different and there are no expectations. No matter what happens on race day, it doesn't -- it's just it's just something that whatever happens happens. I have no expectation. So I can't be disappointed or anything like that. I don't have any expectations.
After the Olympics, I raced at the World Championship Final, and it was about three or four weeks after the Olympics I raced. That was really hard, I think, to get motivation to train for that, but running is my favorite out of the three disciplines. So for me to be able to go out and run and train for something that I really, really love to do has been exciting, and it's been a little bit different.
Obviously, I said this, but I've been continuing to swim and bike. But I've been increasing my run, and it's been something just a little bit different than I'm used to, and that's been something that's been really just -- it's been motivating, and it's been encouraging as well to just try something a little bit new and to have a new challenge.
Q. And I know you said you don't really have a particular goal, but what's your plan in terms of those early miles? Do you have a certain pace in mind where you're comfortable that you'd like to settle in? Or is it just about finding a pack where you feel comfortable? Or what is your actual game plan early on?
GWEN JORGENSEN: That's a great question. You know, I think I'm pretty competitive, but I have just so much respect for the marathon distance that I just -- I have no idea. How are you supposed to -- when you've never done a marathon and you've never done a race over 10 miles, and you've never run longer than 16 miles in your life, like how do you even know?
I've been doing these marathon workouts, these three by 7K. People say what's your marathon pace? I have no idea. One week it was 3:40 per K, and the next week it was 3:31 per K. For me it varies. It's going to be just going off a feel and just going out there.
Again, I have a huge respect for the marathon distance. So I can't let my competitive nature get in the way too much of that because I know that you can't -- if you go out too quick in the marathon, I know that you would pay big, pay dearly.
It's hard because I just -- it is a huge unknown. For me, I just want to be able to go out there, have fun, do what I love to do, which is running, and to be able to do it in New York is something that's really exciting because I know that the crowds are huge, and they're the entire way lining the course. So for me, I hope there's just a lot of people out there screaming "Go Gwen" because I know it will be really encouraging, and I know I'll need that help.
STUART LIEBERMAN: Thank you, everyone. And a big thank you to Gwen for joining us here today. Just a reminder you can watch Gwen and the professional athlete field in 175 countries and territories around the world on Sunday.
The TCS New York City Marathon will be covered live by ABC7 in the New York Tri-state area from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern time and nationally on ESPN2 from 9:00 to 12:30 p.m.
Thank you so much for joining us here today. Feel free to check us out at NYRR.org/mediacenter throughout the week for all of our latest updates and coverage. We'll see most you out later this week in Central Park.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports