ON THE ROAD TO SYDNEY
With Rod DeHaven
Welcome to the first LetsRun.com "On
The Road To Sydney" interview. This interview is with 2000
US Olympic Marathoner Rod DeHaven. Formerly a miler, Rod has
made quite a transition over the years as a runner as in May
he won the US Men's US Olympic Marathon Trials in Pittsburgh.
As a result, he will be the sole US entry in the Olympic marathon
Since winning the US Marathon Trials,
Rod has bounced back nicely. He competed at the US Track and
Field Trials at 10,000 meters in July and finished 8th - the
highest finish of any marathoner in the field. Just last weekend,
in his final race before the Olympics, Rod got a nice confidence
boost as he won the US half-marathon championships in Parkersburg,
West Virginia in impressive fashion. He destroyed both the field
(winning by more than one minute) and his own American course
record (formerly 1:03:38) by running 1:03:06.
On Tuesday night (August 22nd), Rod
spoke at length with LetsRun.com via-telephone from his home
in Madison, Wisconsin. Rod was more than willing to answer our
questions on a wide-range of related topics. We figure he was
so generous with his time because he was somewhat thrilled by
the fact that he wasn't talking to a typical sports writer who
knows nothing about running and asks him incessantly about how
being the only US male marathoner will affect his performance.
Read below about Rod's goals for the
Olympics and his plans for the future.
here to see what Rod has to say about his high school career.
The Rod DeHaven File:
Weight: 130 lbs.
Born: September 21, 1966, in Sacramento, Calif.
Current Residence: Madison, Wis.
High School: Huron, SD '84
College: South Dakota State '87 (Division II)
PRs 1500m: 3:40.15 ; 5000m: 13:40.4;
10,000m: 28:06.25, Marathon: 2:13:02.
Affiliation: US, New Balance
here to see a bio of Rod DeHaven as compiled by USATF.
Q and A
(August 22, 2000)
LETSRUN: Before we get started, we just
wanted to congratulate you on making the Olympic team. It's quite
DeHaven: Oh yeah, ok (laughs).
LETSRUN: After making the team, You
seemed to have rebounded very nicely. You surprised a lot of
people by running the 10,000 meters at the track trials (where
he finished 8th - top finisher of all the marathoners) and then
you did so well at Parkersburg (where he won the U.S. Half-Marathon
DeHaven: I guess I planned all along
to go out there and I also had to go out there to get drug tested.
You have to get tested within 100 days of the (Olympic) Games
and I just felt like I wanted to be in shape if I was going to
go out there. I didn't want to be lapped a couple of times (laughs).
LETSRUN: Did you take any time off after
DeHaven: Yeah, I took like a week off
and then started running 50 miles a week and I had intentions
to kind of build up a little faster but I got bogged down - you
know answering telephone calls, and going to celebrity golf tournaments
(laughs) and drinking parties (another laugh) and that sort of
LETSRUN: Has your life changed a lot
since you're an Olympian now?
DeHaven: Yeah, a little bit. I mean
before I could win a race, say Parkersburg, and it would be no
big deal, but now that I have Olympian as a tag so to speak,
all of the sudden, the kids want your autograph or should I say
their parents think it's a good idea for their kids to get an
autograph of an Olympian (laughs). It's changed in that respect
and also going to the grocery store occasionally, I get stared
at now whereas before people wouldn't recognize me.
LETSRUN: It sounds like you are being
treated like a real professional athlete now.
DeHaven: Yeah, pseudo-professional athlete
LETSRUN: Can you tell us a little bit
about your race last weekend. You pretty much demolished the
field and broke your own American course record in the process.
Were you expecting to run so fast?
DeHaven: Yes, given that the weather
was pretty good, the day before the race I thought to myself
that I wanted to run under 1:03 but I didn't say it publicly
because I already had the feeling that I was the hunted (one).
So I was happy with it in some respects (since I ran 1:03:06),
but I kind of fell apart a bit during the last 5k. There's kind
of a large hill at 11 or 11.5 miles and then a real sharp downhill
where you make a 90 degree turn in the middle of the downhill
(laughs), which really kills all of your momentum.
But considering everything, I was pretty
happy with my race. I think it's a pretty good indicator of my
If you compare Parkersburg to say (a
flatter course) like the Philadelphia Half-Marathon it's probably
worth like a minute. So if that means I can break 1:02 for a
half-marathon, then I would say speed-wise I'm about as fast
as I need to be to run a marathon.
LETSRUN: Considering that your confidence
must be pretty high after Parkersburg and you have six weeks
until the Games, have you set any specific goals for yourself
at the Olympics?
DeHaven: Well, everyone knows the marathon
is kind of a tough thing to set specific goals for, but at the
same time, nobody sets out to say: "I want to be 8th at
the Olympic Games."
I think everybody in there - the top
guys - are thinking, "I'm going to run hard until I fall
out of medal contention", and then given that the marathon
is such a business type thing they might say "Well, I'm
just going to pull over" (since I'm no longer in the medal
hunt). It's almost like the Olympic Trials (where a lot of runners
don't care where they finish if it's not in the top three) maybe
even a bit more so than the Olympic Trials.
I mean I could run tactical and get
15th, but I'm kind of like, "Who cares?" Initially,
that was my mindset, I wanted to be in the top 15, but now I'm
kind of under the mind-set that I might as well run as hard as
I can for as long as I can and whatever happens, happens.
I don't know - maybe that's foolish.
Maybe I'm in 2:11 shape and 2:11 guys probably don't have any
business hanging around the lead pack at 18 or 19 miles, but
we'll just see what happens.
LETSRUN: Have you thought about how
the introduction of the EPO drug test might affect the results
in the Olympic marathon? Do you think that might level the playing
field and give you a good chance (for a medal)?
DeHaven: No, I tend not to worry about
that stuff too much . I don't know how much of it is going on
out there. The way I look at it is that my p.r. is 2:13 (and
the world record is 2:05:42) and EPO can't account for all of
that (difference). If I was a 2:09 guy, I might be a little more
worried about it.
For me, the only worry that I have is
getting in the best shape that I can and getting to the line
healthy. If the test catches somebody and starts deterring other
people, that's great. But I don't believe the Kenyans are on
"the Juice" or on EPO or anything else for that matter.
(The introduction of the EPO drug test)
for me is not the one pill solution. If people are saying that
this is going to help the Americans get back to the top of the
world level or even near the world level in mass numbers, (they're
wrong). We need to train smarter and run races that potentially
give us the ability to run faster times, and I think that means
not running marathons in the U.S. I mean Chicago (the Chicago
marathon) is one blizzard away from disaster. How 's that for
I covered a lot of subjects there (during
my last response).
LETSRUN: Yes, you did.
DeHaven: O.k, so you take a 2:15 guy
who is going to Chicago thinking he's in 2:13 shape, he gets
a blizzard and runs 2:17 and now he's thinking, "Damn, where
do I go know?" I mean similarly you go to Boston - it could
be hot, it could be windy. What are you going to do?
To me it's a no-brainer, (you go overseas).
But the difficult part is getting to Europe, spending the money
to get on a plane to get in a race in Europe or going to Japan,
which is even more expensive. Those are the things that I think
we're going to have to do to get faster.
I mean if you look at the Canadian guy,
Bruce Deacon, he got the A standard (by running 2:13:55 at Japan's
Fukuoka Marathon in December) and 2:13 is probably about as fast
as Bruce can run right now (but he's going to the Games). If
he'd come to the US to try to get 2:13, he'd probably have been
LETSRUN: Sort of like the Pittsburgh
DeHaven: Well yeah, but not just that.
Say Bruce goes down to L.A. or he goes to the Cal International
marathon, which ended up having great conditions last year but
most years it's pretty hit or miss, he might not have qualified
(Editor's note: Bruce actually sort of did do this as he ran
the San Diego marathon in May of 1999 and dropped out after going
through half-way in 1:07:49). But he did the smart thing, he
went to Japan and got the time - only by a couple of seconds
- but it doesn't matter by how much.
I mean if they'd run the Chicago marathon
the day before they did last year, there would have been no world
record. There was a 30 mile per hour wind here in Madison, (Wisconsin)
on Saturday at 7 a.m. and thus there had to be at least a 30
mile per hour one in Chicago (laughs). They got lucky and it
just calmed down enough on Sunday where they were able to do
it (run a world record).
LETSRUN: What kind of training are you
going to be doing between now and the Olympics?
DeHaven: Well I'm just going to try
and play it safe this week and just do one workout. Next week,
we'll be kind of a high week and then I'll kind of come back
down to 120 (miles) the week before I take off.
DeHaven: At that point, I'll be heading
over. I probably won't do that much the week I'm heading over.
I'm actually going over to New Zealand to try to get away from
the chaos (of Australia and the Olympics) and to stay with Pete
Pfitzinger (US Olympic Marathoner in 1984 and 1988) and to try
to get a couple of workouts in. Then you're seven days away and
I'll just lace 'em up and see what happens.
LETSRUN: Are you going to run any races
between now and the Olympics?
DeHaven: No, that (Parkersburg) was
LETSRUN: How much mileage have you been
running this summer? Did the fact you ran the track trials keep
your mileage down?
DeHaven: With the track trials, I've
been averaging about 125 and I had a high of 144 the week before
LETSRUN: In college you were a miler,
did you ever envision yourself as someday being an Olympic marathoner?
DeHaven: No, of course not. Even a couple
of years out of school, I didn't envision myself running until
I was 33, but I got kind of sucked into it and couldn't get out
LETSRUN: In that light, do you think
a lot of guys wait too long in their careers to test themselves
in the marathon?
DeHaven: Yeah, I believe that's the
case. I think Todd Williams may have come into it a year or two
too late. I think his meltdown in Indianapolis (at the 1997 USATF
outdoor championships where Williams collapsed in the 5k with
3 laps to go) certainly affected him one way or another.
Also look at (Bob) Kennedy who has announced
that he wants to run marathons. By the time he gets around to
it, he's going to be 31 (years old). If it takes him three (races)
to get it right, then he'll be 33. Obviously, that's if it takes
him three to get it right. If he gets it right the first time,
then Bob could potentially run 2:07 I'm sure. But I don't know,
when you've done as much as he has, do you really still have
the fire? Do you want to hammer 140 mile weeks and get out and
run road races?
Contrast that to the British guy, (2:09
marathoner) Jon Brown, who ran the marathon and still came back
to the track and ran pretty well. I think if (the Americans)
followed that example more so than the Todd Williams' example
or the common statement that "If you run the marathon, you're
career is over", it would be better.
Ideally, I think I would have went after
the marathon a bit earlier (than I did). The marathon certainly
seemed to help me lower my 10k times as well. When I ran 2:14
(for the marathon) in 1994, my 10k p.r. was 28:38 and I ran 28:06
the following Spring.
Another thing is that when you're training
for the marathon, you get a certain type of focus that you may
not necessarily get when you're training for the track. With
track, you can always think, "Well, I can always get in
another race on the track (at a later date)." Whereas with
the marathon, you kind of say , "At the end of the 12 weeks,
this is it. I've got to be ready at this time."
In track, there's always something in
the back of your mind like, "Well there's the (US) nationals
and if I run well there then I can go to Europe and then I can
really run fast."
LETSRUN: Do you also think one reason
people might run fast track times when training for the marathon
is that they feel very little pressure in the track races since
they're so focused on the preparing for the marathon?
DeHaven: Yeah, I agree with that. When
I went to Stanford (on March 25 this year to run a 10k and ran
28:17 (the fastest time in the nation at the time)), I was just
trying to get a qualifying time for the track trials (sub 28:50),
I wasn't even thinking about hitting the (Olympic) A standard
(of 28:10) by any means. Only when Vin (Stanford coach Vin Lananna)
started yelling, with four laps to go, that we needed to get
going did I even think that was a possibility.
LETSRUN: If you were asked to give advice
to the average runner trying to complete a marathon, what would
DeHaven: I don't know. For average runner,
it's just a matter of putting in the time commitment (to train
properly). And probably finding a coach that could help you draw
up a plan.
Find a coach, find the time, do the
LETSRUN: Do you have any plans for after
the Olympics? Are you going to keep after it for a couple more
DeHaven: Well I'd like to try to run
fast (for the marathon). Right now, the tentative plan is to
run Boston next Spring if the weather is good. If I don't get
the time there, then I'll go to Europe (laughs) or go to Japan.
So I'll give it two more shots next Spring, and if the weather's
good and I can't do it, then that'll probably be it. That's kind
of the way I'm looking at it right now.
But, who knows? Maybe I'll just hang
it up on October 1st, but I doubt that though.
LETSRUN: We hope not, considering with
how well you've been running this year.
DeHaven: Well you've got to look at
(the reason for my performance at) Parkersburg as I have a lot
of motivation to train right now and most of those guys (in the
race) are still trying to figure out what happened at Pittsburgh
(at the US Olympic marathon trials). I know from 1996 that it
was hard to get going again after the Trials.
Once (the Trials) are over, other people
are more in the mode of, "What are you running so much for?"
It's not so much your buddies - it's more people you work with,
or your neighbors, or whatever, and that just kind of plays into
your psyche a little bit I think.
LETSRUN: Are you still working these
DeHaven: Yeah, I'm still working 30
hours a week. It gives me a bit of balance.
LETSRUN: Good luck to you at the Games.
We're excited about your chances especially since you're the
only US man we can cheer for.
DeHaven: (laughs) That's pretty much
the question of the day. All of the typical sports writers are
like, "Do you feel any extra pressure (because you're the
only men's US Olympic marathoner)?" and I'll say, "No."
Then they'll ask. "Are you going to run worse because you
don't have any teammates?" Then I go, "Come on, we're
American, we don't care about each other" (laughs).
here to see what Rod has to say about his high school career.