April 7, 2008
DAYTON, Ohio - It's been almost a year since University of Dayton head women's cross country coach and assistant track and field coach Ann Alyanak qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials at the 2007 Boston Marathon, proving that she was among one of the best women's marathoners in the country. The Olympic hopeful will head back to Boston on Sunday, April 20 to compete a day before this year's Boston Marathon. Alyanak will have her chance once again to prove that she is an elite class with the possibility of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics. DaytonFlyers.com sat down with Alyanak to find out what's going through her head as the big day approaches.
There are only a few weeks before the marathon; do you feel you're prepared?
I do feel very prepared. My training has gone really well up to this point and now it is just about having confidence in my training and knowing that I have done everything I can to prepare. Ed, my husband and coach, has done a great job with the preparations and I would not have done anything differently up this point.
Talk about last year's marathon. Is there anything you will do differently this time around?
Last year's marathon was a little different in that it was a smaller elite women's field than what we will have this year and we ran the actual Boston Marathon course. We had some crazy weather to contend with last year as well. This year we will be running on a multi-loop course through Boston and Cambridge which is relatively flat. Since we are running a loop course we will know where we are relative to all the competition most of the time which will be different from last year. Last year I did not always know what place I was in and this year I will make sure I know my position throughout the race.
What is going through your head as the big day approaches?
Sometimes I think the last couple weeks leading up to the race are some of the worst just because of all the anticipation, anxiety, and excitement of the race. I definitely think and visualize about the race and my strategy everyday especially while I am running but I try not to let it overwhelm me. Some days I get really excited and other days I am a little more nervous. Overall though I know I need to maintain a pretty even keel for these last two weeks and just stay focused on the training and getting to the starting line healthy.
How has training gone this year?
The training for this marathon has definitely been the hardest and best I have done so far. Ed used the same basic plan and principles we have had success with in the last two marathon training cycles but we increased the miles and also some of the quality workouts. My body held up very well and I know I was able to run some workouts this year that I would not have been able to do in the past. I am very confident in the training and pleased with how it has gone. I have also been training with some local men and this has been a tremendous help. They have definitely pushed me on many of my runs.
What races have you competed in since the 2007 Boston Marathon?
I raced a fair amount in 2007 after the Boston Marathon but the biggest race was the IAAF World Championship Marathon in Osaka, Japan in September. After this marathon I only raced a few times in the fall and most were local races. In 2008 I have raced 4 times running the USA Half-Marathon Championships in Houston in January and then an indoor track 5k at Findlay, a 10,000 meter race on the track at the Coastal Carolina Invitational and this past weekend I ran the ORRRC Half-Marathon in Xenia. The last three races were pretty much for training purposes.
What is the biggest inspiration to you when you're having a bad day or a run doesn't go well?
When I have a bad workout or run it can really knock you down and mess with your confidence, but this is when you have to maintain total trust in your coach and training and still believe in yourself. After a bad day I think about what I am training for and this is enough to inspire and motivate me to get back after it the next day. I have been running long enough to know that everyday will not be a good one and sometimes you have to use the bad runs and workouts as character builders and just find ways to get through them.
Does it make you nervous that this race isn't just any other race?
When I do think about what is at stake in this race it does make me nervous and mainly because you only get one of these opportunities every 4 years and maybe only once in your life. I am focused on embracing this opportunity. Once the gun goes off it will be just like any other race and I will just compete.
How does your training change as the race approaches?
The big change is that the mileage drops in the last couple of weeks and I focus on some faster paced running. The whole goal of the last couple weeks is to freshen up the legs and make sure I am rested. The taper weeks can be tough because you are used to running so much more and you end up with all this extra energy you normally do not have. The key is to harness this energy and put it to use come race day.
What are your goals for this race?
The main goal is to place in the top 3 and qualify for the Olympics. I know there are probably about 20 other women out there who have this same goal and just as good a chance as I do. It is really going to be a battle to place in top 3 and will take the race of my life but I feel I have done everything I can to prepare and put myself in a position to run for a top 3 placing.