This is Part 1 of a series of articles that will be published on Shalane’s journey to the 2018 Boston Marathon. It covers her whirlwind life since becoming the first American to win the New York City Marathon in November.
Only two words were needed to describe the feeling of winning her first world major marathon and becoming the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in forty years... “F4%K YEAH!” It was a moment of raw emotion, completely authentic and unscripted. Overcome with the excitement of achieving a lifelong dream as she saw the finishing tape of the New York Marathon and no one in her way, Shalane says, “I wanted to show how much I appreciated the fact that I was finally able to do it.”
After winning in New York, Shalane says, “I quickly realized that New York was at the center of the world. All eyes watch the New York City Marathon as it is one of the most prestigious marathons in the world. I did not realize the capacity of its impact on the world. But it set me up to be on an incredible stage that I didn't know existed.” Shalane was no longer just a Track and Field celebrity, rather a mainstream celebrity.
The morning after the marathon was only the beginning of Shalane’s post marathon, whirlwind schedule; which did not include sleep until the following Thursday. Shalane appeared on Good Morning America, Live with Kelly and Ryan, and was invited to the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, but declined the offer in order to get home to her family a day sooner. Before she could even give her family hugs, she found herself on another plane, this time heading to Los Angeles. She received her first (of what would be many) casting calls to appear in a Nike video, alongside comedian and fellow New York City Marathon finisher Kevin Hart (granted Shalane was probably already showered and enjoying a post race brunch by the time Kevin crossed the finish line).
In the following weeks, the media requests showed no signs of slowing. After filming another segment with Nike titled Break Through 26.2, Shalane received casting calls to star in a Michelob Ultra Super Bowl Commercial with actor Chris Pratt and was asked to be featured in the video for Carrie Underwood’s song The Champion- the theme song for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Winning one of the world’s most famous marathons at 36 would be a fitting end to a career, and Shalane has expressed a desire to retire and start a family. Three weeks after NYC, however, Shalane was back at practice working out with the team. There was one last piece of unfinished business: the Boston Marathon. As a kid growing up in Marblehead, MA, Shalane set the goal of winning a major marathon and in her dreams that marathon always ended with a turn up Boylston Street. The New York City win fulfilled her childhood goal, but the prospect of winning in front of her friends and family back home was enough to draw her back to the grind of marathon training. In the end, she wasn’t able to picture herself as a spectator just yet, admitting, “when I envisioned whether I would be sitting in the stands cheering on the runners or competing [in Boston], I had to evaluate where I felt like my heart was and the best place for me to be, and I felt like I would regret not being on the start line in the Spring.”
Over the years, Shalane believes she, along with training partner Amy Cragg and coach Jerry Schumacher, has really fine tuned marathon training. And the results speak for themselves. Along with her NYC Marathon victory, Shalane previously finished second in New York in 2010, second at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials in 2016, sixth at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and holds the third fastest time ever by American Women (running 2:21:14 at the 2014 Berlin Marathon). Even with all of her accomplishments, the success of her team and especially training partner, Amy, are a great source of motivation. Although Shalane is missing Amy’s presence in her buildup to Boston, she was moved to tears as she watched Amy set a nearly six minute PR recently at the Tokyo Marathon and move up to number five on the all time American Women Marathon list.
Before heading up to altitude camp in Colorado and really starting the meat of Marathon training, Shalane had some business to take care of on the track...rather indoor track to be precise. It had been nearly seven years since she ran an indoor track race, but describing herself as “more of a racer than a trainer,” she felt that she could get higher quality, hard efforts from racing rather than working out on her own. In her first race back on the track and first race since New York, she picked up right where she left off...with a win in the 3k. Two weeks later she ran another 3k in 8:34, which was 12 seconds faster than her first one and within 10 seconds of her life time best. Given that she was logging well over 100 miles per week during this period, these races provided a big confidence boost heading into altitude training.
Shalane has been in the Colorado mountains, living a monk like lifestyle for nearly six weeks now. Although she cherished all of the media opportunities after New York, she admits it was exhausting; even more tiring than marathon training. “Being back up at altitude has felt like a vacation compared to what I was doing...training twice a day feels easy now,” she jokes. While the mountains have been good to Shalane, she is excited to return home to her family in Portland for 3 weeks of sea-level workouts before Boston.
As far as current fitness and race strategy is concerned, Shalane is keeping her cards held close to her chest before Boston. Unlike many of her competitors, she will not race before Boston. Although all eyes will be on her at the start and she is anything but an underdog, only she will know what she is capable of come race day.
When asked if this will be her last Boston Marathon or competitive marathon in general, Shalane says, “I definitely have one more marathon in me and I could not retire without giving Boston one more go.” Regardless of the outcome, it will be an emotional trip. Shalane grew up in a small town just outside Boston and frequently goes back to visit her parents, who still live in her same childhood house. Her parents, however, are selling their house as they are preparing to move to Portland to be closer to Shalane and their other children. So, whether this is her last Boston Marathon or not, it will be the last time she truly goes home.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which will specifically cover all things Boston.