“The goal was to win…When I got in the start line, I was just thinking to put the hammer down, go hard not necessarily for the record but to break my opponents.”
July 12, 2013
Shortly after Emma Coburn made history earlier today in Glasgow by running 9:11.42 to break Jenny Simpson’s American record of 9:12.50, LetsRun.com was able to secure an exclusive interview with Coburn. Here’s a transcript of our phone conversation with the new American record holder.
This interview has been condensed for clarity.
LRC: Was the American record the goal going in?
Emma Coburn: My race plan in Paris and today were both very similar. I kind of knew what 9:13 splits were and had those in my mind but my biggest hope of winning these races is making my opponents tired early on. The goal was to win — running hard and aggressive is my best chance to win. If I keep running aggressive, time will come.
I didn’t think [the American record] was in the cards and I had told myself to do my own thing, my own race plan, and it turns out a good time came out of it. When I got in the start line, I was just thinking to put the hammer down, go hard not necessarily for the record but to break my opponents.
LRC: What does it mean to you to break it?
EC: Obviously it was held by a dear friend of mine (Jenny Simpson) and she ran it five years ago (at the World Championship final in Berlin) and never ran another steeple. I’m sure if she were still in the event she’d have a much faster American record. Now she’s moved on to a different event and is .10 seconds from the American record in that.
It makes me excited to know a talented runner had that record. It’s more special knowing I can share the experience with her and and bond over that. She’s been incredibly supportive and she and her husband, Jason, were telling me after Paris that I could get the record, not protective at all.
LRC: Were you focused on the clock at all with a lap to go or just on racing? What was your mindset at that time?
EC: We were 3:03 at 1k and the rabbit stepped off. Then the race was pretty much identical to Paris. I was running alone and it was windy and my splits were off 9:13 [pace]. At one point, I was 4-5 secs behind. I told myself to keep pressing. I wasn’t stressed on running an American record.
I said if I run hard, chances are I get first or second. At the bell, it was similar to the time I came through at Paris, but my last 100 or 150 was kind of weak in Paris. When [Ayalew] came up on my shoulder with 300 to go, I told myself this is exactly like Paris and to stay with her to the water jump because usually that’s one of my strengths.
She had a great water jump and I had maybe one of my worst ones. I didn’t know I was that close to getting [the American record] until 200, maybe 100 to go. I knew when I saw her time [on the board] that I had done it and I was very, very happy and proud.
LRC: What were the conditions like and was that what you prefer for a race?
EC: I like it when it’s cold. It was cool today (64 degrees and overcast) and it had been raining on and off. In the warmup area, I was the only one in T-shirt and shorts and they were all bundled up. I like the cold after growing up in Colorado. It was windy when the rabbit dropped out, but the track was fast. I enjoy racing in those conditions minus some of the wind.
LRC: Are your coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs over there with you?
EC: Mark is over here. By the time you get to see your coach, by the time you go through media, I had already cried out of happiness at that point. He told me it was a beautiful race.
I talked to Heather on the phone and she said her animals are terrified of her right now because of how loudly she was screaming at the TV.
LRC: Have you talked to Jenny Simpson yet?
EC: I just got back to the hotel, so not yet, but she sent me a nice email and a text this morning wishing me luck. I’ll see her tomorrow in Switzerland (where Coburn and Simpson will be based for the next few days).
LRC: Have you thought about re-setting your goals now? What are you focused on moving forward?
EC: I just want to continue to PR and I think my best chance of winning Diamond League [races] is trying to run away from opponents. I’m going to go back to Colorado and put in a few weeks of training and then come back to Europe and try and win a Diamond League [race].
LRC: Are you peeved there’s no Worlds this year because you’ve had a breakout year and would have a great shot to medal?
EC: Not really. You can just race hard and I don’t have to worry about saving my energy for the World Championships. It’s great to run hard and not think about peaking. I’m enjoying this year. I obviously look forward to World Championship and Olympic years but this year’s been fun and I’ve enjoyed not having to taper or peak for Worlds.