Armory Track Invitational

Mary Cain Ready For Armory Homecoming

Mary Cain Ready For Armory Homecoming

Jan 30, 2015 by Joe Battaglia
Mary Cain Ready For Armory Homecoming

By David Monti
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission

NEW YORK (30-Jan) -- Mary Cain, the reigning world junior 3000m champion who electrified crowds at the Armory Track & Field Center in Upper Manhattan during her prep career at Bronxville High School, said that competing in New York provides her with a special thrill. The Nike Oregon Project athlete, who now lives and trains in Portland, Ore., is here for tomorrow's Armory Track Invitational where she'll compete in the 800m.

"When people ask me where I'm from, I say I live in Oregon but I'm from New York," Cain told reporters today. She continued: "For me it's always, like, amazing (to compete in the Armory) since I live in Portland now. For me, it's a homecoming."

Cain, 18, who is coached by three-time TCS New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar, plans to test her speed on the Armory's super-fast 200-meter banked track. Her coach had originally planned to have her run the two-mile at tomorrow's meet, but shifted her down to the half-mile because her speed work had been progressing so well. Moreover, Cain said that she's naturally a middle distance runner and would like to sharpen her skills at the shorter end of her range. Although she has a grown-up 800m personal best of 1:59.51 outdoors, her indoor best is a modest 2:07.21. That time will almost surely fall tomorrow.

READ MORE: Mary Cain Found Her Calling With Alberto Salazar

"Originally, I was going to run the two-mile," Cain explained. "Once we hit December, we realized I'm more of an eight-fifteen runner." She added: "I think, tactically, I'm still, maybe, a little naive in the 800, so I hope to gain even a little more experience."

It was during the 2013 indoor season that Cain began to set the American track scene on fire, and some of her best races were at the Armory. She had moved away from home during 2012 to be coached by Salazar, and was improving rapidly. She opened that season with a 9:02.10 3000m on the over-sized track at the University of Washington, the fastest time for that distance by an American high schooler, indoors or out. She came back East for the New Balance Games, and became the fastest-ever American high school girl indoors with a 4:32.78 mile. She then ran 9:38.68 for two miles at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston (another high school record), followed by a sensational 4:28.25 runner-up finish in the NYRR Wanamaker Mile at the NYRR Millrose Games. She not only lowered her own American high school and junior indoor record, but also hit the 1500m split in an impressive 4:11.72, another high school and junior record. Some dubbed that season "Cainsanity."

"The last 150 (meters) the crowd was really going for me and I was like 'this is a dream come true,'" Cain told the media after the 2013 Millrose Games. "Last year I ran the high school mile here and I came in fourth, so I'm moving up!"

The most impressive part of that race was that Cain ran the final 200-meters in a blazing 30.1 seconds. She's a born kicker, and relishes a fast finish, even more than a fast time.

"Sometimes people say to me, would you rather be somebody who can just lead from the gun," Cain told Race Results Weekly. "And I say, yeah. There's a whole part of me that some point in my career that wants to be able to run a four-minute (1500m) race from the gun, don't even look at anybody, and it's all good. But you know, there's something really fun about being a kicker. I don't know. Like once you get 200 to go, and you're still with those girls, you smell blood. I think there's something exciting about it."

In tomorrow's race, Cain will face one of America's --and the world's-- best 800m runners: Ajee' Wilson. Wilson, 20, has a career best time of 1:57.67, was world youth champion in 2011, the world junior champion in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 IAAF World Championships. She was the fastest 800m runner in the world last year, and has won the USA Indoor Championships at 800m the last two years in a row. In 800m indoor races, Cain raced Wilson twice at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in 2011 and 2012. Wilson won both meetings with Cain finishing sixth (as a freshman) in 2011 and second (as a sophomore) in 2012.

"I'm really excited to run a really fast 800 against great competition, led by Ajee' and my friend Treniere (Moser)," Cain said.

Also in the race is 2014 NCAA 800m champion Laura Roesler, and 2013 NCAA 800m and 800m indoor champion Natoya Goule.

Cain --who still doesn't own a car and borrows her coach's car when she needs to drive-- has a broad set of interests. She revealed today that she's a Beatles fan, and that in her family there is a debate on which of the Fab Four she best represents.

"I really want to be Ringo, but everybody says I'm not cool enough," she said.