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November 3, 2016

Josh George

New York, New York

KARESS PRINGLE-WISHNER: Hi, Josh. My question for you is what device will you be wearing on marathon day?

JOSH GEORGE: Well, I will actually be wearing a few devices on marathon day. I'm going to have a biometric device on me, like Dorian just talked about, that's going to measure a whole bunch of things going on while I'm pushing, and then we'll also have a camera on the front of my chair that's going to record the whole race. You'll be able to see everything that I see throughout the length of the race. And then I'll have my own personal device to let me know how fast I'm going and how far I've gone. So I'll be loaded with devices.

But it will be good. You guys will get all the information. I'll get all the information I need, and it will be fun.

Q. The information you're going to be getting from the program for the Road Runners. What are you most curious about learning? What do you most hope to get out of that?
JOSH GEORGE: You know what, I'm actually very excited that I won't be able to see that live myself. I'll be able to look at it after, but it's going to be interesting. A lot of that stuff is not stuff that I really looked at before, like core body temperature, breathing rate, and all that. So I'll train with heart rate. So I'm familiar with what my heart rate should be doing. I won't actually be racing with a heart rate monitor, obviously, because I'll have the biometric on. It will be interesting to see after the race what my heart rate does, whether it was doing what it should have been doing or not.

But I think all the breathing metrics that they're going to be able to take with that is going to be the most interesting.

Q. So you'll try to take that forward?
JOSH GEORGE: I'll try to take that forward and figure out if there's a way -- I'll look at it with my coach and see if there's anything interesting there and see if there's something where it might be handy to use some of those metrics in training in those long hard workouts and if there's something I can learn from it.

Q. I kind of wanted to talk a little bit about last year. It was a great achievement, but it might have also been a little bit of a disappointment in a way.

Q. Can you talk about how you felt after that and how difficult it was to sort of build back up and come back again?
JOSH GEORGE: Absolutely. Actually, I just posted a blog on my website about that. I wrote a little piece last year after the race about coming in second, and I posted it up on my website, JoshGeorgeracing.com.

It was just a whirlwind of emotions because, on the one hand, it was the best that I'd ever done in this race. I've had some bad luck on this course. I've had some equipment issues. I've had some health issues. So finishing second was the best that I'd ever done here, but at the same time, I was in a head-to-head race with Ernst by the end of that one. You don't get too many opportunities at winning a Major. You don't get too many opportunities, especially at this course. You don't get too many opportunities where you're in the front and you have that opportunity to win in the end.

So I was ecstatic that I had done that well, on the one hand, but on the other hand, I was like, oh, man, maybe that was a little bit of a blown opportunity. Not that I didn't give everything I had at the end, but I wished I'd had just that little bit more. But the experience that I gained from it, like that was the first time in this race that I actually had a meaningful finish. Usually, I'm finishing a little bit further -- usually, I finished a little bit farther back from the leaders. So coming through that final bit, that final finish line, you don't care quite as much. You're not really focused on what's going on because you're not racing anyone at that point. You're just finishing a race.

So racing at the end of the race, I really gained some valuable experience that hopefully, if I'm there this year or in the future, I'll be able to take what happened last year and maybe snatch a win out of one of these years.

Q. Just a quick followup, is there anything specific that you can share that you might do differently or any change in your training leading up to it?
JOSH GEORGE: Yeah, so this year I didn't get to make any major training changes this year because of Rio. The Paralympics are really the focus of the year, and Rio, I'm racing a lot of the shorter stuff on the track. So my training had to be focused on shorter stuff. New York is a very unique race, and the things you have to train for for this course are very specific to this course. So I will make adjustments in the future training-wise.

In terms of tactic-wise, I feel like last year I wasted a little bit of energy in certain parts of the course that I shouldn't have. I used a little bit too much energy coming up 5th Avenue into the park. It's a gradual uphill there, and I thought, oh, maybe I can use this to my advantage because I'm good at climbing, but it wasn't enough of an uphill to actually do anything, and I just wore myself out a little bit. So there's certain parts of the race where I feel like I can conserve a little bit better.

Then the literal finish of the race, I will approach much differently. I made a couple mistakes last year. So if I'm in that same position again, I will definitely approach that a little bit differently.

Q. If you could sort of break down the biggest challenges.
JOSH GEORGE: Break down the biggest challenges, yeah, absolutely. So for us, one of the absolute biggest challenges of the race is right at the start. Going up and over the Verrazano, you can't afford to slack. You're going hard right from the get go because all the guys now in the wheelchair division, we're at such a high level that, as soon as someone gets a gap, the pace that they could hold on the flatter portions of the course is basically the same pace as anyone else can hold. So if you fall behind on the tricky stuff, if you fall behind on the climbs and the descents, on those flat sections, it's very, very difficult to make up any ground.

So you have to stay close, and you have to stay near the front on the bridges, on the climbs. So the Verrazano, right off the bat, you have a really tough challenge because you've got to -- you know mentally that you have -- when you get to the top of the bridge, you still have 25 miles to go, but you'd better be busting it up that bridge or else your race is already over.

So it's just that mental game you've got to play with yourself, saying, okay, I'm hurting in the first mile, but it's okay. Just deal with it.

But then beyond that --

Q. Tricky turns?
JOSH GEORGE: Yeah, you know what, there's some tricky bits -- actually, down Third Avenue, it's a little bit of a gradual downhill through here, through Brooklyn, and those roads are kind of rough. So for me, that's a tricky part because I'm not the best getting down a hill. So some of the bigger guys hold a bit better pace. They hit those bumps, and they're not shaking as much as I am hitting the bumps in the road.

So my focus, I really have to stay focused all the way through Brooklyn, that first bit, until about mile -- what is that? Mile 7 there. So that little bit there, I've got to be pretty rough.

Once you start heading up into queens, up the more northern part of Brooklyn and into Queens, that eases up a little bit. We tend to settle down. So that's a part where you know you can rest. But then the 59th Street Bridge, that's the second -- so there are two really major points in this race that divide the field up. The first is right off the bat, the Verrazano, and the second is the 59th Street Bridge. And that's where last year I made my break on the 59th Street Bridge. The year before that, Kurt made his break on the 59th Street Bridge. It's the second of the two longest climbs in the race, and that's where you can really make some of those guys hurt.

I broke away there, and then -- so, again, my struggle after that bridge is the same as my struggle in Brooklyn, where when you're going down First Avenue, First Avenue is rolling, but it's a net downhill. Those net downs, like last year Ernst caught my before I was able to get off of First Avenue. So that's sort of, if you're a climber, what you have in your head is you want to make a break on 59th, and you don't want to be caught before you get off First Avenue. If you're caught on First Avenue, you're basically with that person the rest of the race. If you can survive First Avenue without getting caught, you have a pretty decent chance of making it to the finish line without getting caught.

You're fatigued there. You still know you've got a little over 10K once you're off First Avenue. So it's a lot of racing left. It's just a head game, how much you want to expend that energy. Last year I managed -- I made it to about mile 19, 19 and change before Ernst caught me, but he caught me before I got off First Avenue, and then we were together the rest of the race. That seems to be how it works. Someone always makes a break on 59th. The pack chases down First, but then net down they typically, they have a good shot of catching the climber, but if the climber gets caught on First Avenue, that's the pack for the rest. Nothing really breaks up until you get into the park after that.

Q. Every sport sort of has its like Amen Quarter, the difficult venues to play in. Where does this one rank in terms of the marathons that you've competed in, like in terms of the challenge?
JOSH GEORGE: New York is the toughest. New York City --

Q. Because of the corners and the bridges?
JOSH GEORGE: Because of the bridges, because of the corners, because of the road surfaces, New York City is definitely the toughest marathon that we do. The road surfaces, I mean, that beats you up, and that bumping and that jarring over the course of 26 miles. It really beats you up, and it takes its toll on you as well as the bridges, and the bridges -- you know, you've got another bridge later in the race too when you're coming somewhere over there.

Q. Into the Bronx?
JOSH GEORGE: Yeah, into the Bronx. So through the Bronx, it's a really tough section. No one usually tries to make a break there, but everyone suffers. You're still feeling it.

Yeah, so just because of the long, arduous climbs, because of the fact you can't rest on the climbs, because everyone knows where they are and everyone's making a break for it, and then the road surfaces -- you know, the cornering in this race is not terrible. It's a typical city race. We always are doing the tight cornering. There's one tough one at the bottom of the 59th Street Bridge where you have to make pretty much a 280 degree turn at the bottom of the bridge, but it's still not so bad because everyone is spread out to a degree after pressing that you can make it safely.

But this is one of the few races where I cross the finish line, and I think, oh, thank you for being done. Thank you that this is over. I sort of sigh. A lot of the other races, you finish, and it was tough, and you're tired, but you're not on the brink of dying.

Q. How do you prepare for the potholes in the road surface? Like you can't really there.
JOSH GEORGE: Preparation-wise, you don't really prepare for it. You just understand that it's there. You prepare yourself mentally as best you can by reminding yourself, this is going to be there. It's going to happen. What are you going to do to not let it annoy you or get under your skin. And you just mentally have to prepare yourself to roll with it. And hopefully, knock wood, it doesn't affect your equipment.

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