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November 3, 2016

Sara Hall

New York, New York

Q. Sara, how are you feeling? Anxious for this debut on Sunday?
SARA HALL: I'm feeling good. I think having run a few marathons already this year, like you feel like everyone's different, but I feel -- I don't feel scared. I feel excited for it. I know it's going to be challenging, but, yeah, I feel good about it.

Q. Talk a little bit about your preparation. Have you done anything different to prepare for the course here in New York, which has its challenges with bridges and ups and downs and terrain.
SARA HALL: Definitely. I tried to really embrace the hills in training because my last three marathons were Chicago, the trials, and London, which were all flat. So I wasn't really concerned about that. So I was more focused on getting in as fast of a rhythm as I can in training. This time I tried to really insert hills at stages and try to really embrace them knowing I would be facing that here.

Q. Where did you try to do most of that work?
SARA HALL: It was kind of a combination. After the track trials, I went to Flagstaff and put in some time there before the girls started school. Then it was back to Redding for about six weeks or so. Then I went up to Mammoth Lakes for 2 1/2 weeks, and that put me about ten weeks out from the race

Q. So other than switching up the terrain, have you done anything different in this buildup than from those previous marathons?
SARA HALL: Yeah, it's been a little different in that where it's fallen, it's come on the end of a long year. So I feel like I've already done a lot of marathon work this year. So I didn't feel like I necessarily needed to do the same amount of week in and week out of 23-mile runs and 16-mile tempos that I had done for the other ones. I wanted to make sure I was staying fresh enough to really have like some wheels underneath , and I think a did a good job of that. So it's been good.

Yeah, like mentally and emotionally, I'm excited about it, but I wasn't sure what my body was going to give me after two Olympic trials and everything else. But fortunately, it's what I made of it.

Q. When you look at your first three marathons, like you said, flat, flat, and flat. Are you hoping this is the type of race and the type of course where your cross country background is going to pay some dividends?
SARA HALL: Yeah, I do love cross country style races. I've heard that from numerous people. Deena Kastor told me that it feels like cross country. What I'm most excited about is having such a great group of girls in the American elite field because one thing, my struggle in London was spending the second half running by myself. I'm hoping that won't be the case here. I'll have a good group of girls to work with because I feel like I get the most out of myself when I'm competing with people.

Q. I was going to ask, how challenging was that to kind of find yourself in no man's land in -- and it's not like you have 20 marathons under your belt where you have that kind of experience.
SARA HALL: Yeah, it is challenging. I think especially for me personally, like compared to someone like Ryan, he can time trial on his own easily and stuff. For me, that's been kind of growing into that in my career. I do do my best when I'm competing or have someone with me.

So I was actually proud, even though London wasn't everything I hoped, that I was able to execute as well as I did having run so much of the race by myself. Hopefully having people out here will give me a little bit better boost.

Q. Anything different in your training this buildup than the other three? Switch things up a little based on what you learned from your previous ones?
SARA HALL: Yeah. So I feel like I've done a lot of marathon training this year. I didn't necessarily hit on everything quite as intensely as I did before the other ones. I still hit my main go-to, like bread and butter things like 16 mile tempo and the 23 mile long run and stuff to kind of get a gauge of where I was at, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn't running out of gas at the end of a long year here.

And I also tried to really embrace the hills a lot because those are a factor at the end of this race, and my other marathons that wasn't really a factor.

Q. Speaking of Ryan, what kind of advice has he given you about running in New York and this course?
SARA HALL: Yeah, so running the course one time and then the other was the trials course. So he doesn't remember a ton about this specific course, but he says he felt like he was -- the effort he's putting out was higher than his times were showing. So just to warn me like that might be the same. Don't be discouraged if it seems harder. Maybe it's just I was off on the day. But he encouraged me to stay in the race because he was at one point 15th and feeling really discouraged about how he was doing but ended up 4th because so many people came back, and I think he was close to 3rd.

So mentally just staying it no matter what you're feeling and what tough miles you face.

Q. Do you pick anyone else's brain about New York ?
SARA HALL: Yeah, I was running with Deena Kastor in Mammoth. So naturally asked her too. She gave me some good advice. She told me, yeah, those hills come at a tough part of the race, and you have to have a reason to go there, to feel that pain. Decide ahead of time what your reason's going to be so you're ready. I liked that.

Q. Is your whole family out here?
SARA HALL: No, this weekend, I didn't bring them. I've been traveling with one of them to all of my races to give them some one-on-one time, but we were kind of busy this week and stuff. So just Ryan and I.

Q. How is that having those family obligations mixed in with marathon prep? How has that gone?
SARA HALL: Yeah, it's a tradition. I think you have to accept that, to be a good parent, you're not going to be able to run quite as fast as you could have. So there's really no way around it, like it's a selfless thing, and you're giving of yourself so much.

But that means like I think I can still run faster than I ever have. It just might not be quite as fast as I could. So we're finding our groove. I'm still continuing to PR and loving professional running more than I ever had in my career. So I wasn't expecting that. I wasn't expecting to still compete when I was a mom, especially in this kind of situation.

Yeah, I feel really thankful that we're finding our groove.

Q. Is that a difficult thing to do as a professional runner? Like you said, the lifestyle is basically selfish. It's all about getting -- maximizing your training, getting your sleep, getting your nutrition. It's not necessarily about making sure homework is done and all that stuff.
SARA HALL: Yeah, for sure, it is challenging. There's a tension that you feel every day. It's a conscious choice. Like you have to put it aside. Like I know I'm not recovering great. Right now, but I'm going to be present with them, and I'm going to put them first.

You have to be ready for it. We waited ten years for a reason, like we wanted to really maximize that time. But I think having Ryan not competing helps so he can pick up the slack sometimes when I need him to. Thankfully, we're both essentially stay-at-home parents for them except for the weekend races. I think they feel loved and supported. So occasionally, when you have to leave for something like this, you don't feel guilt that you can't be present.

Q. What's the goal for this race? Is it to be in contention? Just go out and compete? Do you have a time goal? What are you hoping to get out of this?
SARA HALL: Really, just competing well. I feel that's what's been lacking from my marathons thus far. I had two really hot ones that were what they were. And then I had London and Chicago, where I ran so much on my own, it was kind of more like a time trial, where I really, I love to compete. That's why I'm still doing this. But I really just want to get out there and see what I'm made of when I'm with other people.

Q. This is going to be one where you're actually competing as opposed to surviving?
SARA HALL: I hope so. Yeah, that's the goal.

Q. What's the most interesting bit of advice you've gotten about running your first New York City Marathon?
SARA HALL: I've heard from numerous people it's similar to cross country. I don't know if it's just the varying terrain and maybe unevenness at times. But people said it had that kind of feel. My other marathon events have not been that way. They've been either pretty flat, or L.A. was kind of a survival match. So I'm excited for that kind of vibe because I like cross country a lot.

Q. So if they compared it to a cross country race, you don't need a lot of advice necessarily because you're pretty good at that.
SARA HALL: I hope so. I've never run one this long before.

Q. I didn't find out until recently that you and Kim went to high school together. For, what, a year?
SARA HALL: Just a year, yeah.

Q. How is that? Most people at that age who develop into top athletes don't have that influence to play off of at that age? How did that play out for you?
SARA HALL: It was fun. Kim was starting her career at that point. I think she was number 2 or number 3 for our team, but I could tell she had that competitive fire. Given that she wasn't way up there at the time, like I could tell. That's something that you can't teach. It's been fun to see her continue to progress and stuff. I remember talking to her when she came out of Davis, and she was serious about making it to this level, and how she's really done that. She's really worked her way up.

Q. Is it fun for you all the while through your career to watch her?
SARA HALL: Yeah, it has been fun, and we've been talking more and more. We actually live a couple doors down from each other in Flagstaff too. It's a second home for both of us now but now it's like who would have thought?

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