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November 3, 2016

Kim Conley

New York, New York

KARESS PRINGLE-WISHNER: Hi, Kim. What is your marathon goal for your debut?

KIM CONLEY: My goal really, with it being my first one, is to come away with a good experience. I'm hoping that this is the beginning of a long marathon career. So I am mostly just hope it leaves me feeling really excited about the future.


Q. A couple days before your marathon debut. How are you feeling going into this week?
KIM CONLEY: I'm feeling really good. I absolutely love the training. So I'm excited. The race is an unknown for me. Longer than I've ever run before. I'm just excited to see what's in store and see where this kind of leads into the future.

Q. You were here in September. You ran the Bronx ten-miler. What did you think about all the intricacies of the course.
KIM CONLEY: That was a great opportunity for me to come to New York. I ran everything but the first eight miles of the course. Gathered a lot of intel that I took home and tried to find places at home to run that kind of simulated the texture of the course.

It's a great course. I don't feel like there's any place where you can really settle. You have to be alert throughout. I think that's a good course for me. I'm excited to go and stay really engaged and see what happens in the last 10K.

Q. What's been your toughest workout gearing up for this?
KIM CONLEY: That's a good question. I would say I did a half marathon steady state at a marathon pace, trying to really lock into like a marathon rhythm, and that was hard. Actually, the workout, it was like two weeks later, that went way better was at Fartlek where I ended up going way better at the same average pace.

I hope that means kind of a course where you don't lock into a rhythm the whole time may be a little better suited to me. We'll see.

Q. Some of the runners from a very early age, they say I know I'm destined for the marathon. Was that you? At what point did you know that you really wanted to tackle a marathon?
KIM CONLEY: I hesitate to fully answer that until I've raced. I know that the race is going to be a new ball game. The marathon has been something that I've been planning on for years, since before I made the Olympic team, since before I had New Balance as a sponsor, kind of early in my career, I was eyeing the marathon as something I really wanted to do.

It's actually because I started to have more success on the track that I pushed off the debut, and it hasn't happened until now in 2016.

Things like fueling on long runs, I've been doing that for the last six years. It's just kind of part of the training that I'm already doing, and I really thrive on strength-based training anyway. I've always been kind of focused on my track goals, but were a long-term goal of making my marathon debut.

Q. Has there been any specific advice that you've really taken to heart? Oftentimes debut runners say anybody and everybody is giving them advice leading up to the race.
KIM CONELY: That's true. I think it helped to pick the brains of some other professional marathoners. Amy Hastings is a good friend of mine. It was comforting to know that I could just text her any time I was having a doubt about anything. She was really nice about it, saying like it's okay to be nervous. You just trust the work you've been doing. Everything I've been doing is good. That's really helpful.

And I think -- I would say kind of the most important thing for me has been figuring out what's going to work for me. Because there's a lot more information out there on how to train for a marathon compared to the track really, maybe because more masses participate in marathons, there was a little bit -- it was easier to kind of look and see what other people were doing. What I realized at a certain point is that isn't necessarily the right path. It's going to be part of the process for me, as I complete this marathon and then look ahead to future buildup, it's going to be about learning what the right path for me is.

Q. How do you balance -- you obviously competed on the track this summer in Rio. How did you balance training for the track and then doing this? Talk about the training balance there.
KIM CONLEY: My training is typically strength based anyway for a track season. I'd done a 20-mile long run in May, which wasn't longer than I would normally do. It was as long as I would go. I've never done more than 20 miles before the marathon buildup. So I kind of had that foundation in me during the track season. Otherwise, I was completely focused on the track and going to Rio, obviously.

Then once I got home from Rio, then we just switched gears into marathon training, and I had a lot of weeks to feel comfortable with that amount of time.

Q. What would you be most happy with on Sunday?
KIM CONLEY: I would hope to be under 2:30. A lot of it has to do with conditions and how the race plays out. I watched a lot of previous New York footage, and there are years where it just goes out really slowly.

So we'll just see. I'm certainly not going to force a pace at all. I'm going to just kind of like ride the race and see how that goes. But, yeah, like I said up on stage, I really just want to finish well and have a good experience and feel excited about it.

Q. I spoke to you after, actually, Kate Grace won the 800 meters. Between the 10 and 5 at the trials, rather than staying home and resting, you had talked about wanting to be out of the track and you were kind of inspired by how Kate had done. Then you made the team and went to Rio, and now you're here. How did making the team for the five change the rest of your outlook for summer and fall? Or do you think it didn't change it that much?
KIM CONLEY: I always -- the first goal of the year was to make the Olympic team and go to Rio. So in around April when we decided to also put New York on the schedule, we did it knowing that there were 11 weeks between Rio and the marathon and kind of understanding that the focus would be on Rio, and then I get home from Rio and switch gears. So making the team was always part of my planning.

Q. You lost a week in your original plan by not doing the 10K. So I guess just adjust on the fly and keep going?
KIM CONLEY: Yeah, exactly. I had a moment of doubt over that thinking, oh, no, this wasn't the exact plan. I wanted to have an extra week of training for the marathon, but when I voiced that to Drew, my husband and coach, he dismissed it right away. He wasn't worried at all. I have faith in his vision, so I kind of let that thought go.

Q. You came out here in September to run some of the course. You also ran the Bronx 10-miler. What was that experience like both of seeing the course, and what parts of the course did you run?
KIM CONLEY: I ran everything but the first eight miles, and it was really good to see there's just -- the course just -- the word I like to use is texture. There's just -- I felt like there were hardly any flat elements to it. The bridges are hard, and there aren't a lot of other big hills necessarily, but it also never felt flat. It was always kind of going up and always kind of going down.

So what we did is we kind of took that information home and then found places to train at home that kind of had a similar type of roll to it. So I wasn't rehearsing as much locking into marathon rhythm but rather finding a marathon pace as I train.

Q. Were you able to run on actual streets or on sidewalks?
KIM CONLEY: A mix. Some sidewalks. There's a good bike lane all the way down First Avenue. So we were running on that. Actually, I tried to run on the street in Fifth Avenue, and sometimes it would get a little dicey with buses, so I'd hop onto the sidewalk. Obviously, in the park, I'm fine.

Q. I was asking, because having covered this race for a few years, the roads tend to have some kind of crowning. I'm not sure if you've thought about where you want to be physically in the middle of the road?
KIM CONLEY: A mix of staying on the crown and running (indiscernible).

Q. You also ran in one, the Bronx 10-Mile, kind of a rolling hills course. What did you think of that course? What did you think of, I guess, doing that New York Road Runners race?
KIM CONLEY: Yeah, it was great timing in the buildup. It was a ten-mile race, obviously. We did it at the end of a busy weekend in New York where we were running a lot of the course. It was a 113-mile week for me. There were moments, especially early on, that didn't feel very good, and then I kind of reminded myself we weren't trying to simulate the first ten miles of the marathon, we were trying to simulate miles 10 through 20 of the marathon. Once I kind of adjusted my mindset and thought, no, don't worry. This is more like mile 16, and I was hitting marathon pace, and I thought, okay, I'm good. I was happy with the way it went.

I did a moment, one of the miles, where I was starting to pass other runners, and they were really cheering for me, and I started getting really excited, and I dropped a mile a lot faster than I've ever seen before. I felt like that was a good simulation of what everybody talks about getting off of Queensboro Bridge, and you get off of First Avenue, and athletes start moving faster than you should because of all the excitement and energy down there. I think it's important to rein it in and try to stay smart all the way through 20 miles and beyond.

Q. Last question is about unpaced course, sometimes there's a thought about do I stick with this group that might be going a little faster than I want to and drop off and run by myself? I guess my question for you, with your first marathon, have you, with your coach, thought about those decision-making moments in the race?
KIM CONLEY: Yeah, I'm certainly not going to dictate the pace. If the whole race goes slow, I'm not going to be the one that goes to the front and tries to keep it honest. I'll leave that to somebody else. And then beyond that, there's kind of like a pace range that I'll be comfortable with running in. But I don't want to make a sudden move or go too fast too soon because I just really have no idea what the last 10K is going to feel like.

Q. After the marathon, next year you're back on the track, and that's the plan?

Q. Try to get to Worlds?

Q. So this is kind of a good timing departure but not a permanent decision to move towards roads?
KIM CONLEY: Yeah, it's going to be hard for me to answer that until after the race, but based on the way the buildup went, I took really well to it. I enjoyed it a lot. I have sentimental reasons to be on the track team. The U.S. Championships are in Sacramento where I live, and the World Championships are in London, and I would love to go back to London and compete in the Olympic stadium there. It was such an amazing experience.

So I definitely want to be on the track again. And beyond that, I don't know. We'll see how the marathon goes, but I could definitely see myself being more road based after 2017.

Q. I am supposed to dig into the question you were already asked, what was your hardest workout? Try to get as much specific from you as I can.
KIM CONLEY: The hardest in terms of hard to accomplish or execute for me was the -- we did a half marathon steady state at marathon pace, and it was just -- I just found it hard to lock into the rhythm that I was aiming for. We did it, and when I was done, I felt good about having accomplished that body of work, not in a race situation, just me out on the marathon trail get can it done. So it was a good day, but I don't know, it wasn't as effortless as maybe I'd hoped.

Then two weeks later, I did a Fartlek that ended up going -- I ended up covering 15 miles at the same average pace as the steady state. I don't know why it worked out that way. In a way, that could have been the hardest workout in terms of on my body. I felt a lot more successful with it just because it happened and I wasn't trying to force it to happen.

But those are probably the two biggest workouts. And then I did a 24-mile long run that was good. It wasn't too hard. I felt good about it. I felt like I could have covered a marathon that day, but there was obviously no reason. Save that for race day.

Q. Can you tell me where these two happened, the 13 and the 15 in the schedule?
KIM CONLEY: Which weeks? I think the 13 was four weeks out, and the 15 -- it was a Wednesday. Maybe it was ten days later, I think. I can't remember.

Q. Four weeks from the start or four weeks from the end?
KIM CONLEY: Four weeks from the marathon.

Q. So the 15 then was 2 1/2 weeks ago?

Q. And these were alone?
KIM CONLEY: Yeah, the Fartlek I did -- so it was 17 sets of -- I can't remember the exact specifics. Whatever, it was 17 sets of something, and my teammates did 6 sets with me, and then Drew hopped in for the end.

Q. And how about the steady state half?
KIM CONLEY: Drew did portions with me. So he did -- I can't remember. Some miles with me and let me go, and I went back and caught him, and he finished with me.

Q. So the idea was that some of it you'd be alone doing it yourself?
KIM CONLEY: Right. Some of it --

Q. How much? Do you remember?
KIM CONLEY: I think he probably got about six or seven miles with me.

Q. So six or seven alone?

Q. How does that feel going alone?
KIM CONLEY: It is harder to go alone, but I think it's important because it kind of forces you to really focus in that moment and kind of simulates those hard moments of the race. It's entirely possible that I'll have moments in the race where I'm alone.

Q. What's been the most interesting bit of advice you've had on making your marathon debut?
KIM CONLEY: That's a good question.

Q. Interesting, funny, surprising.
KIM CONLEY: Yeah, I don't know. A few people have told me that it's fine to be nervous, but that makes sense to me with my experience on the track. I would say on the track, that's the advice I would give to somebody racing on the track, that nerves are good.

I think maybe it's hearing people specifically talk about New York. I've asked people, what's the hardest part of New York? And I'm expecting to hear the bridges or, man, when you get into the park, those little hills. A lot of people have said it's actually the energy, and it's trying to control yourself early before you're supposed to make that move. Maybe it's on the Verrazano Bridge or when you get onto First Avenue, and people get excited, and they want to go earlier, and they have a hard time reining it in. So maybe that's probably the most interesting advice.

Q. Now, you were a high school teammate of Sara's?

Q. You were a freshman when she was a senior?

Q. It's unusual for a young athlete like that to have someone of equal talent that turns into a world class athlete. How's that been like for you? What was it like for you then, and what's it been like for your whole career to have that sort of base?
KIM CONLEY: She was a great role model for me to look up to. She was way better than I was in high school. I didn't even really aspire to accomplish the things that she was accomplishing at that time. But she taught me a lot about how to work hard and how to be disciplined and setting goals and all those kind of like fundamental things that it takes a long time for an athlete to really understand. She was just a great leader for our team.

And then she's been a great resource for me kind of over all the years, when I was making the transition to college, and then certainly when I was transitioning to trying to make it as a professional runner. She's someone I talked to a lot for advice on the process.

Q. Did she give you any advice on running a marathon?
KIM CONLEY: Yeah, actually, I don't think she's one of the people I was talking to so much about it.

Q. That year, did you win any state titles?
KIM CONLEY: Yeah, we won the state championship.

Q. Did you win as a team?
KIM CONLEY: She won as an individual, and we won as a team.

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