American record holder and two-time Olympian Molly Huddle has fond memories of her marathon debut at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon, where she ran an impressive 2:28:13 and took third. After a disappointing race at this year’s Boston Marathon, the 34-year-old is now focused on delivering a huge performance when she returns to the NYC Marathon on November 4.
Huddle, who lives in Providence, R.I., with her husband, will join a super successful group of elite women at the start line, including reigning NYC Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan and this year’s Boston Marathon winner Desiree Linden.
To test her fitness, Huddle ran the USATF 10 Mile Championships on Oct. 7, finishing just one second behind Sara Hall, who outkicked Huddle for the win in a blazing sprint at the end.
Huddle recently spoke with Women’s Running about bouncing back from Boston, winning another U.S. track title last summer, her goal for New York and her colorful nails.
The self-described “nail polish enthusiast” is famous for posting photos on social media of her fancy fingernails, inspiring others to also share their #racedaynailgame designs.
Your year started with setting an American record in the half marathon, but things went awry in the Boston Marathon, where everyone battled extremely brutal weather. Not only that, but you were also dealing with an infected tooth. What was the recovery process like for you?
The recovery from Boston was about three weeks. I was pretty sore in my quads, even though I ran so slow, which I think is just something that goes with the Boston course. I eventually warmed up that evening but I came away with a cold that week (I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the runners did). I had the root canal about three days later, which wasn’t too bad but then had to extend my break by a week because I also needed my wisdom teeth out. I think I might have been okay to run that third week, but I was kind of beholden to the oral surgeons’ schedule, so that just turned into some extra recovery days, which wasn’t a huge deal. So physically it was kind of an unusual recovery period. Mentally, it was a bit unsatisfying to have such a bad day because we had tried some different training in the buildup that seemed to go well, so I was frustrated to not have learned much about that because I think the weather became such an overwhelmingly large influence on the day.
In June, you won your fourth consecutive U.S. title in the 10,000 meters. Did the win this year feel different to you because of what happened in Boston?
The win at the USA Track Champs was a bit more special coming off of Boston. I felt like I wasn’t as prepared as I usually am for that meet, so I wasn’t sure what would happen. Every USA track win is special, and you never know when it will be your last, so I appreciated the experience and was really grateful to find some pace in my legs at the end.
You are returning to New York for the second time, after a very strong debut in 2016, when you finished third. Why do you want to run NYC again?
For me, growing up in upstate New York, the NYC Marathon is special because I feel like I have a little home state pride on the line. The New York Road Runners also make the marathon such a powerful experience. They give the athletes a platform to shine and New York City gives you a stage like no other city can. It was surreal to be racing up the Verrazzano, through the five boroughs and along First Avenue in 2016. I knew I wanted to come back and try to make the podium again.
NYC will only be your third 26.2-mile race. Do you think that puts you at a disadvantage against runners like Shalane and Des who have run many more marathons?
I do think the marathon is an event where experience pays off and patience is a virtue, so I have been trying to tweak things every buildup and ask a lot of questions and pay attention to what the best marathoners around me are doing to hasten that learning curve. But you see things like Deena Kastor running 2:21 in her third marathon, so things can click quickly. [Deena Kastor holds the American women’s record in the marathon with a time of 2:19:36, a mark she set in 2006.]
How has your training been going?
Training has been a grind. I decided to do the meat of the buildup at altitude this time, so the fatigue has been magnified. I’m excited to see where my fitness is this last month at sea level. I am healthy, which is always a plus.
On social media, you describe yourself as a “nail polish enthusiast.” Any ideas yet on what your nails will be like for the NYC Marathon? How do you decide on colors and designs?
No idea on the nail theme for NYC. I’ll probably decide in a few weeks; it’s usually something inspired by the city I am racing in or a design that somehow reflects what I want to feel on race day.