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November 3, 2016

Esther Atkins

New York, New York

Q. I need to ask a specific one, Esther, which is about your training. Your hardest training session as part of the buildup to this race. Have you got a particular session, and when did you do it?
ESTHER ATKINS: Actually, my coach doesn't make me do anything that's super, super hard.

Q. Who's your coach?
ESTHER ATKINS: Terrence Shea. We focus a lot on marathon pace and half marathon pace, and I sometimes overdo my workouts, and I make them harder than they should be, but honestly, nothing's been super duper hard.

Q. So is it more tempo running?
ESTHER ATKINS: Yeah, just pace running. He'll give me specific paces, and I'll hit it.

Q. So what would be your longest?
ESTHER ATKINS: My longest run was 23 miles, but that was just time on feet, easy running. I did -- it actually was probably almost 23 1/2, almost 24. Well, I had two 23-plus. One had 17 miles of like 6:15 pace. That's not particularly hard, but I was coming back off of a cold actually. I had a cold four weeks out. I probably would have done my hardest workouts at that time, but I got sick.

Q. You had that about three weeks ago?
ESTHER ATKINS: Yeah, three weeks ago I got over it. Four weeks ago, I got sick.

Q. How close to 100 percent are you feeling right now?
ESTHER ATKINS: Pretty darn close. I'm definitely ready to PR as long as nothing gets in the way, it's going to happen. So I'm excited about that.

Q. What surface do you train on?
ESTHER ATKINS: I train on asphalt mostly, a bike path.

Q. Hills?
ESTHER ATKINS: Yes, hills, but I don't actively seek out soft surface or anything. Sketchers are good to me, so I don't have to worry about protecting anything.

Q. What's the mindset coming into this weekend? You said PR. There's a pretty healthy field of women out there this weekend. How do you look at that?
ESTHER ATKINS: I'm honestly mostly focusing on New York City. I love being here. I'm so excited. Like Boston was an incredible experience for me, and I keep on hearing that New York is better by a lot of measures, and my sister's been living here for like 11 years. That's something that's really meaningful to me. I'm obviously with the New York Athletic Club. That's also really meaningful to me. I'm just here to celebrate New York City, and honestly, I know that, when I run my best is when I just kind of focus on me and do what I love the most.

I really hope -- the major concern is having people with me, and I'm hoping that some -- especially if the wind is going to be as much of a factor as it could be, hopefully, nothing like 2014, but like -- but having people with me is definitely going to help. So I actually posted a blog that was almost an advertisement to have women who possibly could run with me to go ahead and like, hey, look how reliable I am, like you can count on me. If you want to run around 2:30, 2:32, somewhere in there, that's what I'm going to do. So come with me, please.

Q. Do you train alone?
ESTHER ATKINS: I do, yeah. My husband sometimes paces me because he's injured right now. So he's fast enough to work out with me. Easy runs, I have plenty of training partners in Greenville. So I'm excited about that.

Q. You've run a solid number of marathons. You've been pretty consistent. What's been the key to that consistency?
ESTHER ATKINS: A lot of my consistency is based off of my instincts. So my first marathon, I ran 1:20.03, 1:23.12, yeah, something like that for my two splits. I wore Nike Pegasus. I came to a full and complete stop at each water stop. I was definitely not overdoing it.

But the fact that I was able to go out there and know what I could run for 26.2 miles was really awesome, and that's kind of the instinct that I've stressed it all on. And as long as I do actually listen to that, I end up running really well and consistently. Most often, I'll actually negative split. So that's, I think, what's been really good for my consistency.

It's not just because I have it naturally. I actually practice it. Like the way I worked with my coach, he'll tell me, either it's marathon pace or it's marathon effort, and those can be vastly different. If it's marathon pace, I'll run like 5:48, 5:50. If it's marathon effort, I might run 6:15 one day because I've had a hard week or I'm sick or there's something going on. Like I'm actually visualizing what mile I'm in during every marathon effort I do. I'm thinking at this point I'm mile 7 to 10, at this point I'm mile 13 to 17 or whatever. So it's always something that -- I'm really exercising my imagination.

Q. It's like not overdoing it and staying super engaged?
ESTHER ATKINS: Yeah, practicing it, visualizing it, yeah.

Q. Is it just PR this weekend? Or is it anything else that you feel you'll have success here?
ESTHER ATKINS: Well, I would like to move up on the American list for the world team, and the only way to do that is beating Americans. Because we've got a really good field. Obviously, I don't want that to be because somebody has a bad day. I want it to be because I had the best day possible.

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