A Lot Has Changed In A Year For Shalane Flanagan

Shalane Flanagan liked commentating, but she wants to race again

One year ago, four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan was sidelined from contending for the win at her hometown race, the Boston Marathon, with a devastating back injury. Instead of competing, she helped the local news station commentate on the race. The 36-year-old inconceivably won her first Abbott World Marathon Major seven months later at the New York City Marathon as the first American woman to do so in 40 years, and is now a favorite to break the Americans' 33-year title drought at the 2018 Boston Marathon

Below is the transcript of an interview we did with Shalane after last year's Boston Marathonwhen the Massachusetts native had no way of knowing what was to come...

On commentating the 2017 Boston Marathon.

It was definitely a different role. I would prefer to be racing, for sure, but I had a lot of fun, actually. I was up there at the finish on the Sky Bridge with WBZ with Toni Reavis and Lisa Hughes. They made it easy on me because they're such pros. 

It was fun to sit there and analyze the race. It was just like if I'm sitting on my couch at home, sharing insight and knowledge about the runners and—with the exception of removing a few swear words every now and then—we had a really fun time. Something maybe to do in the future. I enjoyed myself. 

Thoughts on the race.

[Jordan Hasay's 2:23]... that is the fastest debut by an American and the fourth-fastest marathon ever by an American, so a huge accomplishment for her first one. And it's Boston. The weather wasn't ideal, they did have a bit of a tailwind, but it was warm. Honestly, it was a great performance.

Edna Kiplagat was totally dominant for 38 years old, to run that well. She's done it all. This was her fifth major marathon and this was a bucket list for her. I actually trained with her a little bit this fall after she ran Chicago and got second. She's very composed, very relaxed, and she has so much training in her body that she doesn't actually have to do as much anymore because she has had years and years of work. I knew she'd be dangerous today because she has so much knowledge of how to race and is a great tactician. When I saw her throw down a 5:05 at mile 20, which was the same pace and the same split that the men ran, I thought, "There's no way anyone's gonna catch her today; she's having a really great day."

On visualizing herself in the competition.

I didn't. I really was invested in the athletes that were competing. After everything concluded and all the athletes crossed the line, I was looking at Edna's splits and thought, "That's what it takes." You really have to to be able to run those hills really well. It's a decisive moment and it always is, the Newton Hills and how you come off of it. It's inspiring and shows what kind of work I need to do. 

On her injury status.

I am fully healed. I am about week two back running. I didn't run today because I had quite a busy day and I'm off to the airport to head home to Oregon. Things are pretty good. It's a little bit tentative running just because I'm so afraid of getting reinjured. All things are good; I just have to be careful the next month to make sure everything's good to go.

Timeline for return to workouts, racing.

I haven't sat down with my coach yet to formalize a plan. I'd love to be racing again in June and July. I definitely need a month of solid workouts, probably the month of May. I would hate to go a full year and not race until August, because my last race was Rio, so I would not like that to happen. I have a few bucket list races I would love to run, Falmouth is one—I'm from the Boston area. I'll sit down and formulate a plan soon.

How did today inspire you?

It inspired me to not be on the Sky Bridge and to be back actually racing. That was a great motivation. I had so much fun commentating today and sharing my knowledge of the course and my passion for my sport, and passion for Boston Marathon, but there's something to be said... I don't like feeling like I'm missing out on opportunities to represent my country well. It was inspiring to get back healthy and get back racing.

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