Around 1:45 pm EST on Tuesday, Dathan Ritzenhein completed a USATF teleconference with a ton of reporters (way more than normal).
The call lasted about 40 minutes and we hope to have a full transcript up maybe by tomorrow but wanted to share a few highlights with the LetsRun.com audience.
The call started with a surprise guest appearance from former American record holder, Bob Kennedy. Kennedy congratulated Dathan on his 12:56 run which he called “ a hell of a performance - gutsy and disciplined.”
“I hope this is just another step for you to hopefully break it again or for other Americans down the road to keep American distance running moving forward. I’m certainly proud of you and American distance running,” said Kennedy.
Then the talk featured an opening statement from Dathan and a ton of Q&A.
The Marathon Is His Future
The good news from a LetsRun.com perspective as talked about in our most recent Week That Was piece (https://www.letsrun.com/2009/weekthatwas0831.php) is that despite the 12:56, Dathan very much sees himself as a long distance guy. The marathon is where he sees himself competing in 2012 and he’s very excited about seeing what he can do at the 26.2 mile distance.
As Dathan said, “I do feel like when I try a marathon again it will be like a debut for me.”
Amby Burfoot of Runnersworld asked Dathan why would he move back up when he’d just run 12:56 and Dathan said that despite the 12:56 he still “doesn’t have amazing footspeed” and Ritz realizes that he’d have real problems in tactical 5,000s. For example, Ritz said he’d really have struggled in the 5,000 final in Berlin which featured a final 1k of 2:24.
World Half Marathon Champs Are His Immediate Future
Despite the marathon being in Ritz’s future, Ritz will not be running a marathon in the immediate future. It’s not going to happen this fall and is unlikely to happen next spring as well as he wants to do a full track season next year although Dathan admitted that under the training of Salazar things are much more likely to change at a minutes notice.
Dathan’s next race will be the world half-marathon championships on October 11th.
Why that race? Well Ritz considered a number of potential races including a clash with Ryan Hall in Philadelphia but the chose the world half because Alberto Salazar told Dathan, “You’re one of the bets runners in the world and you need to race the best runners in the world.”
As that inspiring quote might indicate, it was clear throughout the call that the switch to Alberto Salazar’s training group has totally reinvigorated Ritzenhein. Training alone under the tutelage of Brad Hudson, Dathan had become “kind of stale” and he “wasn’t happy”, but now that he’s in a group everything has changed.
Dathan said the “biggest change” was that the move to Alberto was that it’s resulted in him being “mentally happy” and that “Alberto has been able to get me excited about running.”
“You just can’t do it alone,” said Ritzenhein.
The group dynamic of Salazar plus as is the positive affirmations of having a man of Salazar’s accomplishments telling you can run 2:05 have turned Dathan into a 12:56 beast.
Looking back, Dathan said that perhaps he was a bit chronically over-trained with all of the marathon training and the recent focus on speed has allowed his true self to shine.
Ready To Go In Berlin – 13:44 5k at Altitude
Ritz said that he knew he was in very good shape heading into Berlin as he had run a 5k time-trial in St. Moritz in 13:44 just six days before the 10k in Berlin (Wikipedia lists St. Mortiz’s altitude at 5,978 ft so a 13:44 at that level converts to probably something between 13:05 to 13:10 at sea level).
When asked if he was disappointed that he didn’t win the race in Zurich, Ritz responded, “I know that I ran as good as I could...It would be really greedy for me to say I was disappointed at all because I didn't win the race. I think I ran an amazing race.”