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November 5, 2006

Meb Keflezighi

Dathan Ritzenhein


THE MODERATOR: You were very identifiable out there. You were leading the pack. We were watching the whole time. The pack broke then we lost you a little bit. Talk about your race from start to finish, please.
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: I mean, going into the race, I felt good, but I've been having, as probably most of you guys know now, food poisoning on Thursday night. Started on Thursday night and still going on right now. I have been taking Pepto the whole time but I couldn't take the chance on something else from the doctors that could be banned, so for drug testing purposes, I couldn't.
Started off easy, almost 30k, we were going pretty slow, I thought the pace was slow, but toward the end I just ran out of energy and I haven't been eating. I've been eating some but not like usual carbo loads just because my appetite and very sensitive stomach. The rest was good and I'm happy for Santos and obviously Peter Gilmore for being the top American. When he went by me, he says, "Hang in there." Nice guy to be around.
So, anyways, it was interesting. Tough day for me. Obviously I also lost my bag. My bag still hasn't made it yet. So it's been a really rough week. And for the first time in my racing career since UCLA, coming from San Diego to here, I didn't think my bag would get lost. I have my racers there, the shoes I was going to use for this race. I have to call Nike and get new shoes. It's not the same as you've been used to doing in work outs.
THE MODERATOR: When did you arrive?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: I arrived Wednesday night.
THE MODERATOR: And when did you have the meal when you got the food poisoning?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Thursday night.

Q. Do you have any idea what you ate that caused the food poisoning?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: I ate the same I usually eat. It was chicken fettuccini, pasta basically. Unfortunately things happened and it's out of my control. Losing my bag was out of my control.

Q. Can you say where you had this meal?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: No. It's a good restaurant, I'll tell you that much. It's a very good restaurant.

Q. When did Pete pass you?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Pete passed me probably 20 or 21, and he was looking good. Dathan and I were running together for a mile and a half or so, and I thought he was making gains. Maybe he surged a little too fast.
You know, I thought that he ran very well for his first time. But that's marathoning. Even the Olympic champion and the world record holder didn't win it today, so it just tells you it was out there for everybody. Mine definitely was not, in terms of fitness, it was just other obstacles.

Q. When is the last time you ran 2:22?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: It's the first time. Slowest I ever ran.
You know, I could have stopped. I wanted to stop. I stopped four or five times. I had to stop and use the restroom. But, you know, I did it for the people today. They came to see me a lot of them and I was encouraged by them saying go USA, go Meb. I stopped four or five times, and they were anticipating me in Central Park and the finish line; I just ran for the crowd.

Q. For the first 20 kilometers, you looked comfortable, the pace was there, you spent most of that part just right behind the Pacers, but the pace was very soft. Can you give any explanation why it was so soft? You looked like you wanted to go quicker than that.
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: I was very comfortable and I always wear a watch and hitting my splits, although sometimes my marks were not visible. I ran, you know, 56 on average and that's their job is to run 1:04 and I thought we might go 1:04 even though the splits didn't show. Even when we got halfway, we were not watching the splits, like where you should be at 12-mile mark, you just know at halfway mark we should be at 1:04 and we were at 65:32 or so. I felt very comfortable. I just ran, you know, out of energy. I haven't been eating a lot, and I stopped and cramped up a couple of times. But I know it was not a life-threatening or serious injury, so I wanted to run for the crowd and pleased to be here, and very supportive of the ING New York City Marathon.
Somebody asked at the Nike press conference, has anybody run ten minutes per mile. I said, no, but I did a little bit getting back after my hamstring injury and today was close to it. I was experimenting with other people, there were 37,000 other doing it, and to be a part of that crowd, I got that feeling today.

Q. Where did you get your substitute shoes, and were they to your satisfaction?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: It's the same shoes that I usually run in, but I usually like to break my shoes in before the race in a few work outs. Obviously I called Nike -- that's the first time I called Nike, from the airport to here, just in case my bag doesn't make it. I got them on Friday night and ran with them on Saturday, but that's about it.

Q. They delivered them to you?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: They sent it to the hotel.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us now, 11th place in a time of 2:14:51, he made his debut here today, very much anticipated, Dathan Riztenhein. Can you comment on, was it what you thought as far as your debut?
DATHAN RIZTENHEIN: The last four miles was undescribable. And so if you ask me now if I would do it again, I would probably say no. I felt amazing until 20 miles, and then it's just something that you could never prepare for if you've never done it, I don't think. Definitely learned a hard lesson today, but you know, I think that I had a decent race. It wasn't quite what I had hoped for, but now that I look back, right afterwards, I thought I had ran poorly, but now that I look back, it wasn't that bad of a day.

Q. Both of you guys, there was a lot of pre-race hype about Lance Armstrong, and I'm curious was to whether that was good for the race for does it take away from what the elites like what you guys are trying to do?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: We are happy for Lance. He might have helped in a way us both, helping to realize that he's champion of Tour de France and to see what he ran, it will be positive for us to see if these guys run 2:10, or I don't know what he ran, three hours or whatnot. It puts in perspective how decent we are. But at the same token, I mean, it was about Lance. It wasn't really also just to focus on the elite racing, also. The media probably swings a little bit, but it's good for the sport and it has it's positives and negatives.
DATHAN RIZTENHEIN: I think any publicity like to the level that Lance brought to the race is going to be positive for the sport.
I don't know how the race went for him other than he ran 2:59. I kind of almost hope that it was pretty tough for him just, so it gives us a little more credit. We can say that it was really tough, but when someone like him says it, I think it kind of solidifies the fact that those people who haven't ran it feel how tough it really is.
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: I got a chance to say hello to him just before and told him, have fun and he just laughed at me; "Have fun?" That's part of the sport, you just try to enjoy it as much as you can.

Q. Lance did say it was tough at the end. But why don't you tell us what was the difference between 20 miles and 25 miles.
DATHAN RIZTENHEIN: You run on energy. There's just a limit. Like I don't know this, I'm not a scientist, but my coach says, basically, when you hit the wall, you run out of muscle glycogen, and that happened to me at 22 miles. You're using a secondary fuel source at that point. So you train to build that fuel tank up as far as you can, and when that's exhausted, then I mean, I think my last few miles were maybe in the definitely over six minutes for sure.
And so, I think that it makes a huge difference on the level, the effort that you can put forward. If I can describe it a little bit, is my whole body was kind of tingly, like you're really cold, but you're not cold. And you can't lift your legs, you can't move your arms. You can try as hard as you possibly can, but it just -- you won't move. And so once that point hits, there's nothing you can possibly do to come back out of that.

Q. Can you talk about the break this year, it didn't come on the downhill, it came on First Avenue when they really started accelerating. Talk about that break. And also both of you guys were in the second pack, at the front of the second, I think both of you were running together and there was a third runner.
DATHAN RIZTENHEIN: Culpepper I think.

Q. It looked like after they got a gap on you, they were starting to jam and shorten until Santos took off and pulled away.
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Yeah, we ran for I don't know how long it was, about a mile, mile and a half together. I was anticipating Ramaala doing what he usually does and he didn't. Seemed faster but not as fast as last year. Some of them will come back. So as long as we keep our form together, you know, we ran together for a little bit and we made a move and he kept going ahead of me. There were a couple other guys, I think it was Thomas, the other guy you were talking about and the Moroccan guy.
Some moves are made there, but this year it wasn't as fast. But I know, looking at Dathan, he was closing the gap, but at that point I already ran out of energy. I thought he might have a chance, but other guys as they dropped off, they become motivated to catch the other people.

Q. The past couple of years, you've come close to winning here and today was not your best day, so to the extent that you're thinking about it, do you plan to be back here next year or maybe are you going to rethink your race schedule and try another fall race?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: I'll be here next year for the trials. Unfortunately it won't be in the same race.
You know, it could happen. I still fully believe I could win this race. You know, second last year, third last year, second the year before, not even rested. I was definitely rested, just uncontrollable food poisoning caused the problem. Of course last time I discussed about if we could maintain 4:50 or close to it, that's 2:07:44, and 2:07:43 is the record and only one person has got under 2:08. So it's definitely possible.
Is it going to happen, with the trials next year? Doesn't go in my favour. And then I could try to do what I did in Athens and come back, I don't know what the spread between Beijing and here is. That's 2009. I'm only 31, so I feel time is still on my side. Look at Paul Tergat, he's got a few years on me, he's 37 and still running well. Just work with my coach and have a plan. Age is definitely on my side. This year has been tough in many ways. Boston I was really fit and only finished third just because I was following Benjamin, we were impatient and you definitely have to be patient on that course.
Unfortunately with this, this is the closest we ever got to Athens shape, which Athens shape I was in the best shape of my life on a flat course, a very fast one, I won't say how fast; and then the injury on the hamstring happened and so it was a half-marathon. We try to push -- I wrote in my planner this year, was to win New York. But some things you can control and some things you can't control. You know, I would not change my strategy to go elsewhere. I mean, I'm very soon going to make my decision for the spring marathon and excited about that. I should be able to recover quickly from here and plan out a good spring marathon and see what happens.

Q. You just mentioned that this might be your last marathon; what's your perspective on next year and the trials?
DATHAN RIZTENHEIN: This won't be my last marathon, to clarify.
I didn't think too far ahead of this race, just because I've tried to put a lot of emphasis on this over the summer and fall, and so I don't know if I'll run the trials. I'm 23, I'm young, and we'll have to sit down and look what's best for long term development. It might not be the best thing to run the trials. It might be best to stay on the track for another couple of years.
But the marathon is such a specific event that maybe in the summer I'll say, all right, it makes sense to do the trials. But at the same time, I might have a really good track season, hopefully I do, and if I've improved to that point and maybe smarter being 24, 25 years old, to steer clear of doing another marathon until another couple of years?

Q. What will it take for you to run future 4:50, or a 4:55?
DATHAN RIZTENHEIN: In the marathon, a lot of it's about lifetime mileage. By the time, in four more years, hopefully I'll have had four healthy years of good training under my belt. I think that this year, I'm going to make a huge improvement just because this will be the first really extended period of time I've had uninjured, and that's very important I think for the marathon. A lot of the -- generally a lot of the guys who are really good in the marathon are older, and so you know, there's a lifetime mileage that you build up into your legs. I think that makes more of an impact on marathoning than it does in shorter races like track and shorter road races.
And so just naturally putting in the mileage and the training year-in and year-out, for the next hopefully ten-plus years, will get me to the point where I can be like Paul or Henrik or those guys who are in their mid, late 30s and still running really well.

Q. So you're just concentrating on track?
DATHAN RIZTENHEIN: Well, there's a natural progression in training. So it's hard -- it would be hard for me to come back and do a spring marathon, just because I don't have the kind of lifetime mileage in my legs that Meb and those guys have. And so it would be very hard for me to come back off from that and get back into that training. I don't think it would be the best thing because I have a lot of improvement yet in the 5K, 10K, those distances. I think if you get to the point where you're running two or three marathons a year, it's hard to have a track season in there, too. You can't do everything. So I want to maximize my track career before I make a full-time switch to the marathon.

Q. Could you talk about the break in trying to catch up?
DATHAN RIZTENHEIN: It was a very strange race. I can't understand why it happened the way it did because there was so many of the leading contenders of the race that just didn't -- it didn't happen today. And it was a slow day. And it's just something that you can't -- it's hard to explain.
I can tell you that when I went on to the bridge, we were at just under a five-minute pace, like 4:58, :59 pace. And at 15 miles, we had slowed down quite a lot because of the pacer had just pulled off. And before we got to the top of the bridge, we had a very slow mile, and everybody bunched up really close. And it did pick up coming down the bridge. It looked like that, just because it was a steep downhill. That move you would think would be really decisive and it would be a fast race, but it didn't even end up being that way.
The times were slow all the way around, and I don't know why. It was just a strange day.
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Going down the hill, and the Moroccan was ahead and Ramaala said, let's go catch him. And once we got to First Avenue, Paul made that move and he was behind me and I thought that would be the big move in terms of the race. But just Santos made a move when it counted and ended up winning the race. That's what marathoning is, sometimes you can explain things, sometimes you can't. Keep your head up and your time will come.
THE MODERATOR: You guys both added a tremendous amount of flavor and interest to this year's ING New York City Marathon. Thank you very much for your participation. We know that we'll see you at a New York Road Runner event in the very near future. Thank you.

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