Teammates Alisha Williams and Mattie Suver Hoping For Low 2:30s at 2013 New York City Marathon

November 1, 2013

This afternoon we caught up with American Distance Project teammates Alisha Williams and Mattie Suver. The two Scott Simmons coached athletes will be racing New York on Sunday.

For the 26-year old Suver, this is her first serious attempt at the marathon (she did run the 2012 US Olympic Trials marathon in over 2:50 but didn’t train specifically for it). For the 31-year old Williams, who ran a 15:09 5000 pb this summer, she’s run two marathons – a 2:35:09 14th place in January of 2012 at the Olympic Trials and a 2:34:58 win in Sacramento last December after New York was cancelled.

You can watch our interviews with them below (the first one on the left is all Williams, the second one on the right is mostly Suver but some Williams) but here are the highlights as we know most of you don’t have tons of time.

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Alisha Williams

Williams revealed that she thinks she’s a better track runner than marathoner but loves the marathon and thinks it benefits her a great deal on the track.

“I think the marathon is the ultimate challenge.

I think it works out pretty well to go from the track to the marathon. I think they kind of balance each other out. I kind of thrive off of that marathon strength and I’ve had really good track seasons after my first two marathons.

I think I’m probably more of a track runner than a marathon. I think that’s probably my better event but I love the challenge of the marathon and think that it makes me a better track runner and well-rounded marathon.

The marathon still intimidates me and I don’t know if that’s ever going to go away.”

As for what to expect on Sunday, Williams thought a low 2:30s was possible.

“Training has been going pretty well – the marathon specific training – I wouldn’t say the racing has been going super but training has been going well, “said Williams who was 11th at the US 20k in September in 72:35 and 7th at the Tufts 10k on October 14th in 33:05. “If there was a time goal, it would probably be low 2:30s but with New York it’s always hard to have a time goal as it’s championship style racing. It’s hard to know how the groups are going to split up and what the tactics are going to be out there. I don’t know – I’d be thrilled if I could finish in the top 15 I think – the field is really strong. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Mattie Suver

Suver, in contrast to Williams, was racing well early in her marathon buildup but struggling in practice during her first batch of marathon training. She was second at the US 20k in September in 70:25 – some 2:10 ahead of Williams – but as she got better and better in practice and used to the marathon training, her racing got worse as she was 9th at the Tufts 10k in 33:15 – 10 seconds behind Williams.

Suver on her training.

“The training has been going really well. This is my first real marathon training block. The first few months or weeks it was definitely a real shock to the body. You could see how Alisha and our other training partners had already been used to all that marathon training and their bodies kind of adapted well. For me, the workouts were really hard the first few months but the races still came easy as I think I still had that speed left over from earlier in the spring.

Now, though, I think by the end – the last few weeks – the workouts have started to feel easier and I think that showed in the Tufts race. Now I’m kind of more switched over to the marathon training. I think that’s a good sign even though I didn’t race as well at Tufts. I felt strong and ready for the marathon. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to what happens.”

When asked for a goal for Sunday, Suver said, “I’d be really happy to run 2:30s but I just want to get out there and compete and put myself in a good position – hopefully (end up) top 15 or top 10.”

When asked for specifics about their workouts, they said they do a continuous 21 mile run where the first 20 miles are alternations of 5:40 and 6:40 pace (5:40 then 6:40) with the 21st mile being all out. Williams has run the last mile as fast at 5:17 and Suver close to 5:20. The workout loop is actually done on a course that is a bit shorter than a mile to compensate for the fact it’s done at altitude in Colorado.

“Alisha is much better at these marathon workouts than me and she’s been kind of pulling me along in these workouts but I think it helps both us,” said Suver. “We usually start off together and at the end I’m trying to hang on and she’s trying to push farther away from me.”

Alisha Williams
Mattie Suver (with a little Williams also)

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