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Women’s Running chatted with Lauren Kleppin prior to her first go at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2. The Asics Mammoth Track Club athlete finished 15th overall in a stacked field of elites, running in less-than-optimal conditions, including heavy winds and chill. We caught up with her following the marathon and her post-race camping trip(!) to see how she was feeling and what the next year looks like as the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon quickly approach.
Women’s Running: Congratulations on your performance in New York—how are you feeling, especially after battling those insane winds and conditions?
Lauren Kleppin: I guess I’m feeling slightly disappointed, but overall my body held together, and I think that race was really meant for me. It just wasn’t my day based on other things going into the race. I think the build-up and all the excitement for New York really teaches you a lesson. But in the end, it was an enjoyable experience and I learned a lot, so I’m just going to take it for that. Right now I’ll just take a break and get ready to gear up for another big race.
WR: This was your first time running in the Big Apple, and you said you felt the course played to your strengths as a runner. Deena Kastor (fellow Asics Mammoth Track Club athlete and wife to Lauren’s coach) also offered a video of her race in 2006. How much did those two preparations help you get to the finish line?
LK: I think visualization is a good tool that athletes can use, so watching that video from 2006 was great to kind of see the rolling course and the challenges of the bridges. As I was going to bed at night and kind of thinking about New York, I could picture certain areas that were hard and ways I could go into those areas kind of stronger. So when I was actually out on that course, I think I was very mentally prepared to take on the challenge, so that helped me make it to the finish line.
WR: You said earlier that you were disappointed in the outcome, where you placed 15th in a stacked field of Americans and elite athletes. How did your time (2:39) and place fall on the spectrum of what you wanted and expected to do in New York coming off an injury a couple months ago?
LK: I guess because I had planned on running New York for so long and my training was going very, very well prior to getting hurt a month before, my goals were set super high. I wanted a faster time, and I wanted to really compete. I think the biggest disappointment for me coming out of that race was I didn’t put myself in a position to compete. That’s what I really thrive on. For most of that race, I was running alone.
WR: Many runners aren’t familiar with your path to racing 26.2 miles. You were a surprise winner at the 2013 Carlsbad Marathon right here in San Diego, and you finished third earlier this year in Los Angeles, with a blistered sub-2:30 performance. What are your thoughts looking back on how you kind of accidentally stumbled upon your talent in this distance?
LK: I was very thankful to be at the starting line next to these amazing women—a year or two ago, I would have gladly wrapped my arms around them and asked for a photograph and an autograph! So to be able to be placed among those women and have the race directors believe in me that I could compete and have coaches and teammates believe I could fight—all of that is just an amazing transformation. I really hope to take that further. Although I was disappointed in my race, I think I learned a lot and I know it’s not a step back. It’s just a big learning experience for my next marathon.
WR: Yes! Watching you finish was definitely inspiring to watch on Sunday!
LK: I was hoping to be an inspiration! I definitely survived, but I wanted to thrive.
WR: That’s a great way to word it. Looking ahead at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, what are your thoughts on going for your first Olympic team? Do you want to give the 10,000M another go (after missing the mark for the 2012 Olympic Trials), focus on the marathon or go for both, and how will that mold your plans in this coming year?
LK: The biggest thing is staying healthy and staying consistent and to make sure I recover well from New York. Looking forward, I don’t want to over-race, but I think that I need to put myself in positions where I can be against the best runners at the various distances. I’m a racer—I need to perfect my racing. At the trials, everyone is going to be there, and it’s going to come down to a race at the end. Everyone wants a spot. Definitely the main focus is the marathon, but I wouldn’t hesitate to jump in the 10K as well. I think it will be fun.