Laura Thweatt Succeeds 'Out of Her Comfort Zone' in Marathon Debut

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NEW YORK — A year full of highs and lows ended in a major success for marathon newcomer Laura Thweatt, who made her debut at the New York City Marathon with a seventh-place finish in 2:28:23. 
 
“I didn’t win, but it was such a huge victory to complete 26.2 miles,” Thweatt said after the race Sunday morning. 
 
“I didn’t see myself as being a marathoner. I mean, I’m not. I still don’t consider myself a marathoner, but just to complete that distance on a course like New York with the history and just how tough it is out there, I felt like I won,” she said. 
 
Thweatt finished seventh in a field that included two-time NYC Marathon winner Mary Keitany, two-time World Championships medalist Aselefech Mergia, and London Marathon winner Tigist Tufa. Keitany claimed her second victory in Central Park, but Thweatt’s finish as the first American woman has made her emerge as a serious contender at the 26.2-mile distance.   
 
A known cross country fiend, Thweatt captured the USATF Cross Country Championship in her native Boulder, Colo. in February. She dominated the field with a winning time of 27:42, 31 seconds faster than the next best finisher. But during the final stretch of the race, Thweatt jumped over a small ditch and injured her foot, causing a stress reaction. 
 
She went on to finish 29th at the World Cross Country Championships in March, but later suffered from a car accident that caused a badly bruised knee. Her track season was compromised as Thweatt was forced to sit out for three months. 
 
In an attempt to regain confidence and reenergize Thweatt heading into the 2016 Olympic year, her coach Lee Troop suggested an entirely different course — the marathon
 
“At first this was something that I didn’t think I wanted to do or that I was even capable of doing. I mean, it’s the marathon, it’s no joke especially here in New York. It really takes everything out of you, it demands everything you have so I was a little hesitant,” Thweatt said. 
 
“But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘you know what, I want to to do this.’ It’s completely outside my comfort zone, it’s going to push me to all these new levels, it’s going to challenge me physically and mentally, it’s going to do everything I need it to do to go into the track Trials next year with everything I have,” she said. 
 
The Boulder Track Club athlete has made major jumps in a wide range of distances over the past few years. Nearly all of her track personal bests were run during the 2014 track season, notably with huge jumps in the 5K and half marathon. Her new 5K personal best is 15:04, a nine-second PR, and her half marathon personal best of 71:02 would be fast enough to qualify her for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. 
 
The major jumps continued on Sunday as Thweatt’s 2:28:23 marathon performance is the seventh-fastest time run by an American woman at the NYC Marathon. 
Despite the head-turning performance, Thweatt maintains that she is focused on the track heading into the 2016 Olympic year.
 
“No way man! You saw me walk! I am definitely coming back down for awhile so yeah I mean, of course it’d be exciting to be in LA with all the best women in the country and give it a shot, but there’s plenty of them and we’ll come away with a great USA team and that’s something down the road for me, but not now,” Thweatt said when asked if the Olympic Marathon Trials were on her mind.
 
Thweatt has missed the USATF Track and Field Championships for two years in a row now, and expressed excitement at the idea of being able to contend in the 5K and 10K in 2016. 
 
“I was really bummed to miss it [Championships] this last year and I missed USAs the year before so I’m definitely itching to make it to the Trials and just give it everything I have and see what happens,” Thweatt said. 
 
If New York is any indication, Thweatt’s “everything” should be considered a serious threat at any distance. 

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