Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Catherine Ndereba Interview

via garycohenrunning.com

GCR: You were forced to withdraw from the Boston Marathon earlier this year due to a tear of your piriformis muscle. How is your health now, were you pleased with your performances at the Beach to Beacon 10k and Crim 10-miler and how is your training progressing for fall racing?
CN Oh yes, I am quite pleased as it means a lot for someone to be able do the training and at the age of 38 you don’t have as much pain, but you just have normal tiredness. I did for a time go for it at Joanie’s race but it didn’t matter that I was only in fifth or sixth at Beach to Beacon – it was as good as number one to me. Joan Benoit had spoke with me after I wasn’t able to race the Boston Marathon this year and asked me to come to her Beach to Beacon race no matter what my fitness level so I had to say ‘yes’ to her. I haven’t been able to run any speed work so was just jogging. I didn’t run for a month and a half and then started back with 20 minutes and then 30 minutes and after two or three months built up to running for an hour. Then I got to where I could finally run each and every day. I’m looking from one race to another. Since I ran a 10k, a 7-miler and a 10-mile race I am running the Philadelphia half Marathon. (Note – since this phone interview in mid-September, Catherine’s racing plans changed. Instead of the Philadelphia Half Marathon, she raced a new half-marathon in Alexandria, VA, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon, which she won. She also hurt her foot there, stepping on a space between 2 pieces of concrete. She still won, but ithe injury may force cancellation of some race plans.)
GCR: Do you think you will be able to race a marathon in late 2010 or is that timetable too aggressive?
CN I am hoping to do one not to challenge for a certain fast - time but my goal is to get back there and do one.
GCR: Some athletes are defined by one very successful race. You have finished first or second in almost 20 major marathons and have dozens of road race victories to your credit. What does this high level of consistency for over a decade say about your running career?
CN I can’t say anything such as it’s just through my training or what I have been doing but must emphasize it is by the grace of God. It’s not like I’m the only person who has been doing this training. I just believe and I know for sure that he has bestowed this upon me each and every day and each and every year.
GCR: It’s been said that in order to succeed a person needs skill, training, dedication, passion and God. What are your thoughts on this?
CN I agree with that 100%. There is nothing we can do without God in our lives. The Bible tells us that it is through our belief in God that we walk, that we live and that we have our being.
GCR: You won your first World Championships Marathon Gold Medal in 2003 in Paris pulling away from Mizuki Noguchi and Nako Sakomoto at 35 kilometers to win in 2:23.55, a championship record. What stands out as far as your preparedness, the competition and the move you made to win?
CN I didn’t know exactly how far there was to go when I moved into the lead, but I just moved and was able to move away from the other women at that point and to get that win. It had been my long time dream and my career hope that God would help me and give me that win. I had waited during my career for ten years and that year God gave me the chance to represent my country. I asked my Federation to put me on the team and none of them believed in me. Nobody believed I was a potential medalist. I had tried to qualify for the World X-C Championship team from 1994 to 1999 but always got dropped from the team at the end. So I thank God for that moment and that race.
GCR: At the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki Paula Radcliffe held a 16 second lead after 30 kilometers and slowly added four or five seconds to her lead each kilometer until the finish where she won by slightly over a minute. Was that one of those days where you were strong, but she was just a bit stronger?
CN You know that each and every athlete is different from one another. Sometimes one may feel strong when the other isn’t. Paula has much speed and I didn’t know what type of training she had been doing. All I know is that she was much stronger than me on that day.
GCR: You came back in the 2007 World Championships to win Gold again in the marathon in temperatures approaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit. How tough were the last few kilometers as you pulled away to beat China’s Zhou Chunxiu by eight seconds and Japan’s Reiko Tosa by 18 seconds?
CN That race was tough, but strangely I had a dream a month before the race and in the dream I had a double gold medal. I couldn’t understand the dream, so I asked God before the race, ‘You make me understand during this race.’ So no matter how hard or tough that race was with the heat and strong competition, I knew the Lord was in me and he was the one competing in me.
GCR: At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, you battled extreme heat and an injury fighting back from over a minute behind to claim the Silver Medal only 12 seconds behind Mizuki Noguchi, of Japan. In hindsight, were you a bit too conservative and could you possibly have struck Gold if you had stayed closer to the lead?
CN I knew I had the ability to win the Gold, but I was nervous since I was injured two months before the competition. I ran a very conservative race. I wanted to make sure I got a medal for my country no matter the color.
GCR: Constantina Romescu of Romania moved early at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and had a gap of a minute at 30k that held through 40k. You were able to close in the final two kilometers to 22 seconds, but missed that elusive Olympic Gold medal. Is this another instance where maybe you let one get away?
CN It was a different race because it was so hot and my back was tight. I couldn’t run with the main group as I had to listen to my body. I took it easy in the early miles. Because I wasn’t with the group I couldn’t tell who was ahead or where they were. I passed a lot of runners as the race progressed and my back felt better. But I had no idea that the Romanian runner was so far ahead. When I caught the leading pack I thought it was everyone and didn’t realize any one runner was ahead. It was at around 41 kilometers that I saw the Romanian girl as she was waving her hands and entering the stadium.
GCR: You weren’t selected to represent Kenya at the 2009 World Championships and were unable to defend your World title. What are your thoughts on this?
CN It wasn’t a matter of not being chosen. I wasn’t ready for it because I had a problem with my hamstring so I told the federation I wasn’t ready to race. They asked me and I had to tell them ‘No.’
GCR: You won four times at the Boston Marathon, the most ever by any woman, but how was your first effort in 1999 when you finished in sixth place as far as getting used to the marathon distance and the hills between miles 17 and 21?
CN It was very tough but on the other hand it was good that I ran through such a very hard course. I knew nothing about the marathon and had not trained enough for the race. I didn’t yet have a respect for the distance.
GCR: You won your first Boston Marathon in 2000 after dueling with Ethiopia’s Fatuma Roba for 25 miles before you pulled away. Did the experience of having raced the course the previous year help you and were you confident in your ability to pull away from Roba?
CN I had the experience and knew what to expect. I knew that the marathon is easier when you don’t run at other runners’ speed but when you listen to your body and that is how I race.
GCR: You defended your Boston Marathon title in 2001 and uncharacteristically blew away the field to win by nearly three minutes. What was your strategy, how did the race develop and were you able to enjoy the crowds more than usual since you held such a commanding lead during the final miles?
CN That was a bit different for me, but like I said, when my body feels good I know it is time to go. So that is what happened that year, no one went with me and it was a bigger lead than usual.