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November 3, 2010

Simon Bairu

Tim Nelson

Dathan Ritzenhein

Jorge Torres

Mary Wittenberg


MARY WITTENBERG: The American men are well known on our stage here in New York City. So it's a big deal to welcome you all back. So pleased to see all of you.
Let's start with Jorge here. A long time force on the American distance running front. Jorge in his debut last year looked like he belonged, incredibly impressive debut. Jorge was right in the thick of the race from the beginning. Ran so smart. Was not tempted to go out with Bouramdane and Ramaala and make the mistake that many others have made throughout the years and really ran tough. Finished in seventh place in 2:13.
But I thought one of the more impressive marathon debuts and one of the more impressive American runs we've seen. So we welcome you back, Jorge. Looking forward to hearing how things are going with you.
Simon Bairu, probably as famous for his New York Times blogging as he is for his running. We welcome you, Simon. Teammate, Tim Nelson and Shalane Flanagan running under Jerry Schumacher. Simon's the Canadian National record holder at 10,000 meters, 27 years old. This is Simon's marathon debut as well.
We'd love to see a Canadian run really, really well here, Simon. We don't like to talk a lot about time and put pressure on, but I think we're all kind of curious. The Canadian national record in the marathon is since 1975, I think. So that 2:10, we're kind of intrigued to see how Simon's going to do, not only against the field, but against Canadian history. So we welcome you, Simon.
Next up, I'm going to jump over to Tim Nelson. Another one of our marathoners, another of our athletes making his marathon debut. Again, trains with Simon and Shalane on the team under Jerry.
Tim comes in, I think, relatively unheralded. You have the advantage until today of maybe not everybody knowing that they need to watch for you because we think this is going to be your distance.
You've got a nice strong 10,000 meter time as we're always pointing out, Dathan, I think it's actually a little faster than your 10,000 meter time than when you first debuted. And that was a pretty good debut.
So, Tim, we're wishing you well and really pleased you're going to debut with us, so thanks for joining us.
Last but far from least, I feel like we're introducing the new Dathan Ritzenhein. The old Dathan Ritzenhein was pretty darn good, great high school athlete and college athlete. Always with so much potential and always, I think, more drive than probably most any athlete I've ever seen on the course.
Dathan comes here now after he switched to Alberto Salazar last year, I think, as a new athlete, as a post-collegiate. Last year after, I think short of a couple of months training with Alberto, Dathan's real talent started to shine through as he ran a distance runner as he ran the American record of 5,000 meters.
Last year, certainly the thrill of my life and our team at New York Road Runners, is being there as Dathan in a super competitive field, international field, won the bronze medal at the World Half Marathon. That was all about racing again, about the title and the podium, not about the time.
But I was watching the clock, and I'm like, oh, my goodness. And Dathan ran right at 60 minutes for a half marathon. So really looking forward to seeing how it goes for you, Dathan, coming in now as a dad of two kids, new baby born a few weeks ago. Thrilled to have you back and looking forward to seeing you on the start line on Sunday as well.
RICHARD FINN: Jorge, tell us a little bit about, you made your marathon debut here last year. How much confidence does that give you that you've been at this distance and you've been at this race before? How do you approach this year as compared to possibly last year?
JORGE TORRES: Well, I felt like I ran a pretty good race last year. Any time you come back and run a course that you've run previously, you always have a little bit more experience and a little more expectations. So, you know, I would approach it a little bit more conservative than last year because you have to have a lot of respect for the marathon. But I definitely know the course, and I expect better results.
RICHARD FINN: Tim, again, we keep on talking about marathon debuts. It's only a couple days away. You, Simon and Shalane, excited, nervous, scared? What's your feeling?
TIM NELSON: I'm very excited, obviously. Just really looking forward to getting my feet wet, jumping in, more like jumping into the distance. So it will be fun.
RICHARD FINN: If you're jumping in here at New York, it's a big pool. It's not a small pool.
Simon, you've written about your training on the New York Times blog. You've talked about it, again. Will you take a look and take a run for that Canadian record or are you looking more for like a place and a certain spot, a Top 10 finish or a certain finish this Sunday?
SIMON BAIRU: I never really worry about times. I believe that if you just compete hard, times usually just take care of themselves. If the record was meant to go down, it will. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm more concerned about beating guys I'm not supposed to beat and just competing hard.
RICHARD FINN: So you're looking to beat these three guys next to you on Sunday.
SIMON BAIRU: Yep (laughing).
RICHARD FINN: Dathan, you're coming back. You said in an interview with us a couple months ago that this is sort of a new Dathan, as Mary mentioned. Can you explain why you think you're using the word new? Is it a second start?
DATHAN RITZENHEIN: I think a few years ago I was pretty much this great hope. I had a lot of expectations, and it really wasn't until about a year ago that -- I had great success at that point. But it wasn't until a year ago that I finally started to realize the potential that I had all these years.
Coming over to Alberto has really changed the way that I approach running. I'm a lot more like I used to be. I kind of went through a little bit of lull for a few years.
At this point now I have a different level of confidence. I have a different level of appreciation for these events. Before I was definitely -- I came to the marathon at the age of 23 and I was definitely naive to how hard it would be and didn't really appreciate the true effort that it took to be at this level. I've done that now.
I've been through that and I've learned lessons every time. So the lessons that I've learned through the marathon are going to help me when I come back this next time. But also going back to the track, to the shorter distances has given me a lot of that feeling of competitiveness back that I was missing before.
And it's been very important for me to make that transition, because now when I bring that to this race, I'm not as intimidated, maybe, as I was. Before I tried to put off the persona that, no, this is not that big of a deal. But now I have that confidence that I didn't have before.
RICHARD FINN: Questions for the athletes.

Q. Dathan, first of all, congratulations on getting into the New Yorker, which is a lot more than most people ever manage to do. There's a lot written about some tinkering that's been done with your form. Just wondering if that's something that's so considerable that we'll notice it? And also if it's just something that you're so used to now that it's second nature to you and you won't even be thinking about it during the marathon?
DATHAN RITZENHEIN: I think a lot is made when you go to Alberto, about all these different things that you're going to change and you're going to do. The fact of the matter is you can't change the most important things during your preparation.
I've run more and harder and done better workouts than I have before. So we don't just plug into machines and hook up to different things and all of a sudden get in shape. So that form didn't just come by thinking about it. It's been a lot of hard work, and it's still a lot of hard work, and I'm not there.
But, like that New Yorker article said, there are going to be ups and downs. I've had some problems with it for sure, but I feel very comfortable now with where I'm at.
You may notice some change. I'm not sure. I don't look at myself running, so I guess I've got to take your word for it if it does look different. But the way I feel now is comfortable, so I can go to the line Sunday.
If I look like a new person, then that's great, I guess. I still don't understand the cartoons in the New Yorker though (smiling).

Q. Jorge, after running New York last year, what have you done in the last year specifically with your training, changes for this year, and specifically with your approach on Sunday so you'll run a better race this year than you did last year?
JORGE TORRES: Well, I've worked with Coach Steve Jones. And you know Steve and I have a very simple mentality, just go out there and just run.
As far as training goes, it's different from last year because I have a longer build up for this race. I have an 18-week build-up, better than it was like a 12-week build up last year. Actually long distance runs and longer -- not longer, but more tougher runs to begin with.
I think I'll be stronger and ready to hang in there a little bit longer and hopefully to the end this time.
RICHARD FINN: Just a follow-up, you haven't raced a lot this year, I believe. Will that make any difference or is that an advantage or a possible disadvantage going into Sunday?
JORGE TORRES: Yeah, I've kind of had an off year of racing this year. For me I've never really needed to make races to get prepared to run big races. It is a little nerve-racking that I haven't run that many races, but I feel comfortable.
All my training has been going well, So I think come Sunday, I believe I'll be up there and running strong.

Q. Do you know Jerome Drayton at all, the guy that has the Canadian record for the marathon? Do you correspond with him or anything, do you feel as competitive with him as you do with these guys?
SIMON BAIRU: No, actually there was a journalist in Toronto who was trying to get us to talk, but it just hasn't worked out yet. But I'm looking forward to meeting him eventually.
And I really don't see myself competing against Jerome. I think all you can do is compete against the guys that day and let the history books take care of everything else. At the end of the day, I'm just going to compete hard.
If that happens to be the record, then so be it. If it doesn't, that's really not a high goal of mine at this point in my career.

Q. Tim, as your marathon debut, Dathan, Meb, Haile, do you try to key off anybody, will you be watching anybody or do you just have to run your own race and see how things unfold? How exciting is that to be in this kind of field for your first race or your first marathon?
TIM NELSON: Yeah, it's super exciting to be here, obviously. As far as the race goes, I think I'm going to run my own race. But I'm sure other guys will be there and it will be awesome, kind of keeping an eye on them. Also competing, obviously, towards the end of the race just getting to that point is my goal.

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