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October 31, 2013

Nick Willis


NICK WILLIS:テつ Caught up in the whole hype of being in this facility, and we did the equivalent of running three times a day going into a marathon race, and the fatigue got the hold of me, and I could barely pick up a club on the final round.テつ It was a lot of fun.

Q.テつ What does 13th get you, any prize money?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I think eighth got prize money.テつ 15 grand down to $1,000, I think, for eighth place.テつ I was in sixth after the first round.テつ That would have been a nice little take home.テつ But I was somewhere around midfield.テつ Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get another invite next year.

Q.テつ How does that work?テつ Do they just pick people they want to play?テつ There's no qualifying like the PGA Tour, is there?
NICK WILLIS:テつ No.テつ It's a very, very young sport.テつ So they're basically trying to find people to fill up the fields who would have the right sort of credentials, I suppose, whether it be from the running or the golf backgrounds.テつ But the goal, ideally, would be that they would have an automatic qualifying spot based on the previous year and then have some qualifying tournaments.テつ So we've already been in discussions with them about here's another guy, David from Ann Arbor, who was in the tournament.テつ He got ninth, and he's keen to put on one in Ann Arbor.
Maybe we'll invite all of those runners who fancy themselves out on the links to use it as a chance to test their wits in this crazy but addictive sport and give it a go.テつ Maybe that will qualify them to go next year.

Q.テつ During the season when you're training, how often do you play golf?テつ How does that work?
NICK WILLIS:テつ During racing season, I don't play any.テつ Basically, when I go back to New Zealand during the winter, I'll play two or three days a week.テつ Then when I do the indoor season, nothing.テつ Then I'll play for about a month during the start of the spring season when I'm not racing, and then not at all during the track season.テつ Then in the fall I'll get back into it.
So doses of intensity and then periods of nothing.

Q.テつ So let's talk about running now since I guess that's why you're here.
NICK WILLIS:テつ That's why we're here.

Q.テつ Last I think your season‑‑ what did you take from your season as a whole?テつ I know Worlds didn't go the way you would like.テつ You ran really well this season.テつ 3:32 as a PR.テつ How was your season overall now that you've had a chance to think about it?
NICK WILLIS:テつ It's been a pretty good year.テつ I started off well with race ins New Zealand.テつ I won some fun road races I haven't done before, the Boston road mile and Minneapolis road mile.テつ Over in Shanghai, I was on pace for a really good time and went down, took me out for a lot longer than I thought it would.テつ It was a challenging road back, and I wasn't even sure I was going to go to the worlds or even going to keep the season alive.
But my wife and my coach kept me motivated, and I got to Moscow and didn't make the final, but I was still pretty proud of how that worked.テつ Then finally, everything clicked, and the ball kept rolling.テつ As you said, some good performances.
So I haven't really had to take a break after the season because I missed so much time in the middle of the summer.テつ So I've kept training, but I've taken a bit of a break playing golf and eating whatever foods and haven't really stretched in the last six weeks.
But today, this weekend here in New York is a good opportunity to get back in the racing mindset.テつ Little things here and there that keep me motivated with training, and I'm going to be running the 5K on the roads for the first time since the one in Providence I had a go at back in 2007.テつ I actually pulled out after two miles.テつ So it's not going to be easy for a miler to step up to the 5K, but this will be a good test.テつ I'm looking to try and qualify for the Commonwealth Games in the 5K next season.テつ This will be one of the first steps for getting my mentality going for the longer distance although I haven't really put in the mileage yet.

Q.テつ So looking ahead to 2014, what are the goals, and what's the focus going to be?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I was telling Bernard my goals are to try to replicate the times I run outdoors on the indoor track.テつ I haven't taken time off.テつ I'm going to really gear up to put all my eggs in the basket for the indoor season.テつ I guess it will be a true track.テつ Is the indoor track really slower, or people aren't in their shape during the prime season?
We know what the answer is for college runners, but as you get faster and faster, there's a bit more force being put on your body as you go through the tight turns.テつ This would be a good way to test it out.テつ I'm going to give it everything.テつ Try to run some fast times and do as best as I can at the world indoors.テつ And later on in the year, we'll have the commonwealth games, which I'll be gearing up for as well and maybe throw the 5K in the mix as I get an opportunity to test that out as well.

Q.テつ On top of the 1,500 or just in place of the 1,500?
NICK WILLIS:テつ On top of it.テつ 1,500 is going to be my event for the rest of my career.テつ The half mile showed, even after injury, I was able to show a decent closing speed on the last 400 meters.テつ So long as I can keep doing my sprint training, my speed hasn't been waning at all.テつ That's really my go‑to event.

Q.テつ You said we know the answer for college what the indoors look like.テつ What is the answer?テつ Do you think it's slower or not slow?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I think when you're running 60 second pace or slower, the indoor tracks are faster.テつ You get the spring back.テつ You get no wind.テつ But as you start going faster than 60 seconds, although you get those two benefits, you're putting a lot more torque on your body as you go around the bends.テつ Madison Square Garden is the ultimate example of that.テつ When I used to run the games there, my inside leg, every bend just felt like it was getting so fatigued just from the natural force getting thrown onto that leg.
So my theory is that it takes a toll as you get faster, and if you're a heavier person as well.テつ I'm not a physics major, but what is it, force equals mass times velocity or something like that.テつ I don't know.テつ I was probably way off with that.
Yeah, I guess we'll have to wait and see, but if I can run low 3:30s or try to get under the 3:15 mile, that would be a lot of fun and maybe go to indoors as well.

Q.テつ Nick, wanted to ask you about the marathon.テつ You're pacing Italian Masters, is that right?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I asked David Monty just before the Fifth, I said, David, the last four years have gone‑‑ this guy has taken such good care of me, hookups, training partners every day.テつ Whatever training I do, he'll jump in with me, and I just want to repay him.テつ He's trying to aim for top three finish in the Masters race.テつ Can I get in there and pace them?テつ Is there a way to do that without jeopardizing my marathon status?
So, yeah, I'm going to be jumping in on Sunday and trying to go 18 or 20 miles at 2:27 pace or hang on there for as long as I can to help him out.テつ That will be a lot of fun.テつ George Aconti is his name, and he brings over people from his hometown, a small town to do this event.テつ So we mostly hang out with him.

Q.テつ He's a 2:27 guy, but he can hop in and do a speed workout with you in Italy?
NICK WILLIS:テつ Whatever training, 20 miler or 200‑meter rips, I'll get 20 of them, and they'll all have turns pacing me.テつ If I do 1,000s, there were five of them doing 200 meters each.テつ If I do a bigger run, they do 800 or a mile each.テつ They're just really enthusiastic.テつ It's a small town of 5,000 people, and they enjoy having foreigners in the area.テつ Who has ever heard of Spoleto otherwise?テつ We stumbled across the place because my wife's sister was playing at an opera festival there.
So we went down to the local track, and I bumped into this guy and asked if there were any other runners around.テつ It turned out he was not only the running guy there, but also the third generation owner of the newsstand in the center of the town square.テつ So he knows every single person in town.テつ It's a great place for us to go every single year now.テつ It's sort of our home in Europe.

Q.テつ Any chance that you could be feeling good at 18 and go for the whole thing?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I'll never jeopardize the marathon opportunities.

Q.テつ You'd have to have a debut 10,000 first?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I've done one at Northern Iowa University, cross country.

Q.テつ All right.テつ Good luck.
NICK WILLIS:テつ Thank you.

Q.テつ Hi.テつ How are you?

Q.テつ Are you excited to be back here?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I am.テつ It wasn't very long ago.テつ Feels like just this year.

Q.テつ Exactly, I know.テつ Short turnaround.テつ Are you ready for all the excitement and everything for this weekend?テつ It would be nice to start on Saturday instead of people waiting until Sunday.
NICK WILLIS:テつ To be honest, it's been a bit of a whirlwind week.テつ I just got back from Oregon and only had two days at home, and I had an exam to finish my semester yesterday.テつ Now here I am in New York.テつ So I got to get my mind back in it for the race.テつ I'm excited.

Q.テつ Is it good to have some of those distractions?テつ Is that normally how you work?テつ Or do you need some time now to focus?
NICK WILLIS:テつ Of late, I've tried to be a lot more busy, especially being a parent and such.テつ It hasn't seemed to affect my performances.テつ If anything, you're consumed with distractions.

Q.テつ They always say it's good to have a distraction.テつ The more busy you are, the more you're able to do more and fit it in.テつ How's your fitness?テつ How are you feeling?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I haven't taken any time off after the season.テつ I haven't done any workouts, just put in some hard, long 12 miles basically.テつ And some speed rounds.テつ So hopefully, that will get me through 3.1 miles.

Q.テつ Yeah, exactly.
NICK WILLIS:テつ But I know it's going to hurt after two miles regardless.

Q.テつ Right.テつ You're prepared for that.テつ But at least thinking on Sunday you don't have 26.2 to go through.
NICK WILLIS:テつ And I'm going to try to do 18 of those as well.テつ I'm going to be jumping in and pacing a friend who's doing the Masters.

Q.テつ Oh, nice.テつ Does that give you any motivation to want to come back and do the marathon?
NICK WILLIS:テつ It's one of my‑‑ maybe not next year, but that's a motivation is to see what the experience feels like.テつ I might only do one marathon in my career.テつ So which one I would do‑‑ I've been to Chicago a number of times because it's so close to Ann Arbor, but New York holds a special place in New Zealander's hearts with Rob Dixon winning in the 70s.

Q.テつ So New York's on the short list?テつ Maybe it will be your marathon?

Q.テつ Oh, that's awesome.テつ It does help to see, get the experience, and really feel what the weekend is all about.
NICK WILLIS:テつ I've never been here for marathon weekend.

Q.テつ Oh, nice.テつ When did you get in?
NICK WILLIS:テつ Just this morning.

Q.テつ So you need a little time to kind of get adjusted.
NICK WILLIS:テつ Just slowly getting in.テつ The course is the last three miles of the marathon course, right?

Q.テつ Yeah.テつ You'll get to see the most exciting part of it too.
NICK WILLIS:テつ I'm just going to visualize it.テつ Pretty famous stretch of road.

Q.テつ So you can go home and let everyone know.テつ Sometimes running fans would only know‑‑ only people really running would know about the course, know about the race, so this is something that translates.
NICK WILLIS:テつ Most definitely.

Q.テつ Hopefully we can convince you, with just three miles, you like it enough.
NICK WILLIS:テつ I'm doing almost all of them because I'm doing the first 18 on Sunday.テつ I'm going to start at the start. テつExperience being on the bridge and all that sort of stuff.テつ I'm really excited for that.

Q.テつ If that doesn't win you over from that start to seeing the finish.
NICK WILLIS:テつ If it's 28 degrees.

Q.テつ We'll see how it goes.テつ Hopefully, we'll get the rain over with.テつ So marathon is another goal.テつ Is there something else totally random you'd like to do one day?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I'm enjoying being a stay‑at‑home dad at the moment.テつ Any job I can do and spend time with my kids in the future would be nice.

Q.テつ It seems like just yesterday you were here for the Fifth Avenue Mile.
NICK WILLIS:テつ Seems like so.テつ But it's hard to imagine sprinting down the road in sub‑60 second quarters.テつ But hopefully the strength is here for the 5K.テつ A bit more of a challenge for a miler like myself, but, yeah, it will be a test to see how mentally tough I can be out there.

Q.テつ Is this‑‑ are you going into the 5K this weekend with test mentality or all out race in?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I'm all out racing and a test.テつ I would like to try to qualify for world games in the 5K this year in addition to the 15.テつ So I need a couple of road 5Ks to get my‑‑ I guess my toughness up to par that is required.テつ It's a very different mentality than the 1,500.テつ 1,500 is not bad at all, very easy.

Q.テつ You're mixing it up with 5 and 10KS here in the U.S.テつテつ what do you expect facing them?テつ Do you just want to rub elbows and get up against those guys?
NICK WILLIS:テつ My hope is to try to win the race.テつ I don't know how tough it's going to be or whether that's a realistic prospect.テつ I know a lot of these guys are coming off a rest.テつ I haven't taken a bunch of time off, but I haven't put in huge mileage either.テつ Hopefully, it will be enough to at least keep me in the mix with half a mile to go, and then it's just a matter of grinding it out until the finish.

Q.テつ How have you recovered from the World Championships?
NICK WILLIS:テつ It was tough.テつ My upper body especially, I was aching for a few days.テつ It was a disappointment of not cupping through in the second round as I would have liked.テつ But I did a little workout yesterday to get my mind back in it.テつ Felt pretty good actually.

Q.テつ [ No microphone. ]
NICK WILLIS:テつ No, it's definitely something I would like to have another go at it.テつ It's taught me to go with the flow.テつ You wouldn't go and train three times before a marathon, would you, but that's what I was doing on the golf course on the driving range, and I ran out of energy on the driving range.

Q.テつ Will we see you back at the World Championships next year?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I definitely would love another crack.

Q.テつ On Sunday after the 5K, rumor is you're pacing a friend from Italy?

Q.テつ Briefly talk about that.
NICK WILLIS:テつ Four years ago we went to a small town called Spoleto in Italy visiting my sister‑in‑law.テつ She was playing at an opera festival there, and I went down to the local track and found the local runner guy in town.テつ From there, we've become really good friends, and he's a 2:22 marathon runner in his younger days, and now he's a Masters runner, and he's the local coach.テつ He's got a group of 80 athletes who are all first time runners.テつ They were at the Amsterdam marathon two weeks ago, and half are here for this weekend.
With all the support he's given me over the years.テつ He came to watch me at the London Olympics.テつ I want to help him out, and I think this is a really cool way as he tries to get top three in the Masters race, if I can run 18 or 20 of those miles to encourage him along the way, it would be a great experience to share together.

Q.テつ Are you looking forward to the marathon?テつ It's talked about with the crowds and the atmosphere.
NICK WILLIS:テつ I'm pumped for that, just as much, if not more, for the 5K, just to get on the bridge and get up early and go through that whole scene.テつ I've been to watch quite a few marathons now over the years.テつ But you don't really get to experience it.テつ You want to feel a part of it without feeling the pain.テつ But this time I get to be a part of it without feeling the pain because I don't do the last six miles.

Q.テつ Will we see a marathon in your future?
NICK WILLIS:テつ I definitely want to do one.テつ I'd like to do one serious crack at one.テつ Whether I would do that 2017 or 2015, I guess we'll just have to wait and see, but nothing official.

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