7 Pre-Wanamaker Mile Interviews: Shelby Houlihan Is Confident She Can Get the Collegiate Record, Lawi Lalang Wants Sub-3:50 and Much More

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By LetsRun.com
February 13, 2015

NEW YORK — For years, Millrose and the Wanamaker Mile were nearly synonymous. Now, thanks to some sponsorship by the NYRR,  Millrose and the NYRR Wanamaker Miles (plural as the women also are being featured) are making quite a name for themselves.

This morning at its midtown Manhattan offices, the NYRR, the title sponsor of both the meet and miles, hosted many of the top milers racing on Saturday that weren’t featured at yesterday’s press conference. At yesterday’s main meet press conference, we caught up with Matthew Centrowitz, Bernard Lagat and Mary CainLRC Lagat Believes He Can Medal At Worlds, Centro’s Valentine’s Advice And Record Chases Galore: Six Takeaways From The Millrose Press Conference.

Today, we were able to speak with several more of the entrants into tomorrow’s Wanamaker Miles. Will LeerEdward Cheserek and Lawi Lalang were among the big names we spoke to on the men’s side; for the women, we chatted with Shelby Houlihan, Jordan HasayTreniere Moser and Heather Kampf. You can find all the videos below along with a few salient points we gleaned from the interviews.

You can catch our men’s Wanamaker mile preview here, and women’s preview here.

1) Shelby Houlihan is confident she can take down Jenny Simpson’s collegiate record of 4:25.91.

Perhaps the most newsworthy item to come out of today’s meet and greet was that Shelby Houlihan, the reigning NCAA 1500 champ from Arizona State, seems very confident that she can take down Jenny Simpson‘s collegiate record, which was set at the 2009 Big 12 meet when Simpson beat Sally Kipyego (4:27.19).

A collegiate record for Houlihan would be a big step forward for Houlihan. Houlihan’s mile pb is 4:33.52 and her outdoor 1500 pb of 4:10.89 equates to roughly 4:30.96, but Houlihan says she’s been training to hist 65s and is confident she’s ready for a big PB. When asked why if shes’ ready for such a big breakthrough in the mile when she only ran a modest pb in the 3k in her opener this year (9:03.71, previous pb of 9:05.86), Houlihan said her 3000 felt easy, was done alone (she won by 27+ seconds) and was simply run to make sure she’d qualify for NCAAs.

2) Edward Cheserek isn’t specifically chasing the collegiate record 

There has been much speculation about Cheserek attacking Lalang’s collegiate record of 3:52.88 set in this race last year, but Cheserek’s main goal is to get an NCAA qualifier (anything under 3:59.00 should do the job). That said, Cheserek isn’t in the race merely to hit a qualifier. He’s there to race, and though he doesn’t have specific designs on 3:52.88, if the race goes fast enough (it should) and he’s fit enough (?) that time could be going down. One record that does seem likely to fall is Mac Fleet‘s 3:57.70 indoor school record. Fleet, the two-time NCAA 1500 champion now with the Oregon Track Club, has already accepted that the record is on its last legs:

Cheserek added that a win against this field would be the most impressive of his career and would show how much progress he’s made since high school. Cheserek ran the professional 5000 in 2012 as a HS junior (finishing 8th in 13:57) and the pro 2-mile as a senior in 2013 (8th in 8:39, a HS indoor record) but wasn’t close to the win either time. He may not win on Saturday but he’s sure to be more competitive now as an Oregon sophomore.

Finally, Cheserek said his plans for NCAAs a month from now aren’t finalized yet. He said right now, he’s planning on hitting qualifiers in all the distance events (he has a 3k time and should get the mile tomorrow, leaving only the 5k) and then he and coach Andy Powell will decide which events at NCAAs will maximize his talents.

3) Lawi Lalang thinks a sub-3:50 is possible tomorrow

There have only been three sub-3:50 miles ever run indoors (Eamonn Coghlan in 1983, Hicham El Guerrouj in 1997 and Bernard Lagat in 2005) but Lalang feels that with a quick pace and the quality field the Millrose Games has assembled, that a sub-3:50 clocking is possible tomorrow. Will Leer agreed with him, mentioning that Willis looked great running 3:51 last week and that the Armory is a faster track than Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center.

In case you’re wondering, the world record is 3:48.45 and it belongs to El Guerrouj.

Lalang’s aim is to lower his pb (3:52.88) and possibly even go sub-3:50. One thing Lalang won’t be worrying about is whether Cheserek breaks his collegiate record of 3:52.88, a record that has gone down in this race three years in a row. Lalang mentioned that when he broke it last year, the previous record holder, Chris O’Hare, had just graduated and was no longer in a position to defend it. Now that Lalang finds himself in the same spot this year, he said that he didn’t mind if Cheserek takes it down because records are there to be broken.

“If he’s in good shape to take it, I would be happy for him,” Cheserek said.

Finally, we asked Lalang for his thoughts on Bernard Lagat, a runner Lalang knows better than anyone given their status as training partners in Tucson. Lalang’s prediction for Lagat? Sub-3:53.

4) Jordan Hasay feels more comfortable/confident in her second full year as a professional

Hasay enjoyed a great year last year, setting pbs at a number of distances, but it wasn’t always easy training with the Nike Oregon Project under coach Alberto Salazar.

“Last year after every workout, I thought I was going to die,” Hasay said.

Now in her second full year under Salazar, Hasay has been able to handle the workouts a lot better and says that sticking with his program is starting to pay off. In particular, she noted the closing speed that both she and Cam Levins (who joined NOP a year before Hasay) have showcased indoors as evidence that Salazar’s system is working. Hasay said that at least one track session a week is dedicated to speed development as she’ll run 300s, 200s and even 80-meter reps; she also pointed to the group’s weight-room work as something that helps improve their speed.

Hasay won the 2-mile at the Armory Track Invitational two weeks ago by closing in 62.40 for the final 400 and came within half a second of her mile pb in her 2015 opener on January 17, running 4:28.73 as part of a double in Seattle. She knows that challenging some of her mile-oriented teammates (particularly Shannon Rowbury) will be difficult in this race, given that Hasay’s focus is on the 10,000 this year, but still expects to be competitive and run a time in the 4:20s on Saturday.

5) Having learned in 2014 that she thrives by training as an 800/1500 runner, not 1500/5000 runner, Treniere Moser would like to approach the equivalent of their lifetime 1500 pb.

Treniere Moser has been enjoying a great winter so far at age 33. Asked if she the resurgent winter was particularly gratifying because at age 33, she might have been starting to wonder if her somewhat lackluster 2014 summer was a sign she was on the downswing of her career (Moser ran 4:02 in 2013, only 4:04 in 2014), Moser said no.

She felt like her lack of huge success last summer was the result of her and Alberto Salazar trying to figure out what type of training works best for her. Moser says they’ve learned she does well off of 800/1500 training, not the 1500/5000 training she did much of last year. Having learned that, Moser is ready for a big 2015 and would like to approach something near her 4:02.85, which equates to about 4:22.28 in the mile.

6) After big improvement in 2013 and 2014, Heather Kampf is looking for even more in 2015

28-year old Heather Kampf was pleased that we noticed the huge strides she’s made the last two years. Kampf entered 2013 with a 4:12.09 1500 pb, but ran 4:08.37 in 2013 and then 4:06.16 last year. Kampf is hoping the PR trend continues, starting this weekend.

Kampf’s track mile pb is 4:30.14 but Kampf is hoping for something much faster than that and even faster than her 1500 pb equivalent of 4:25.85. Since Kampf has run a road mile in 4:22 in the past, she says she knows her body is physically capable of running that fast and is hoping for a low 4:20s time.

7) Will Leer believes he is in better shape than his 7:48 last week in Boston indicated

Leer mostly trained alone in Flagstaff last winter, with only girlfriend Aisha Praught for company, but when he returned this year, he had many more training partners, including fellow Ron Warhurst-coached athlete Nick Willis. Leer felt that the aerobic and strength-oriented work he put in in Flagstaff last year prepared him well for Millrose in 2014 (a race he won) and he tried to follow the same steps upon his return trip this year.

Though Leer was only .61 seconds behind winner Dejen Gebremeskel in the 3000 last week in Boston (Leer was fourth overall), he feels that he is in better shape than that performance suggested. Leer led a good portion of the race and felt Gebremeskel would take off with 1000 to go, but the Ethiopian didn’t move until much later in the race, which Leer didn’t expect.

Leer’s results this year (4th in Boston in 7:48.80; 2nd at the Camel City Elite mile in 3:57.54 on a flat track) aren’t as impressive as what some of the other guys in the field have accomplished, but he said that he remains confident because Willis ran extremely well in Boston (3:51 mile victory) and Leer ran pretty much every step with him in Flagstaff.

More: Please vote in our poll below and then discuss this meet in our running fan forum:

LRC Lagat Believes He Can Medal At Worlds, Centro’s Valentine’s Advice And Record Chases Galore: Six Takeaways From The Millrose Press Conference.

LRC 2015 Wanamaker Mile Preview: Matthew Centrowitz And Nick Willis Lead A LOADED Field

LRC 2015 Millrose Games Preview: Can Shannon Rowbury Get The AR In The Women’s Mile?; Cam Levins Leads A Loaded Men’s 5k; Solomon, Andrews, Sowinski And Iguider In The 1k


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