December 6, 2015
SAN ANTONIO — The 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon was a preview of sorts for the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials in two months in Los Angeles, as three of the top four from the 2012 Trials – Shalane Flanagan (1st), Kara Goucher (3rd), and Amy Cragg (4th) – ran in San Antonio on a perfect day for running.
Kara Goucher was the winner in dominant fashion in 71:10 as Flanagan and Cragg finished together in third and fourth in 72:42. Before you read too much into the results, realize Goucher was the only one of the top three racing today. According to coach Jerry Schumacher, the plan for training partners Flanagan and Cragg was to get in a good uptempo effort and run 73:00. That is exactly what they did as they ran together in a pack that for much of the race included Canada’s Sasha Gollish, and American Kellyn Taylor. Gollish would finish second in 72:35 as Taylor faded to fourth in 73:19.
Running in front the entire race was Goucher. She was accompanied by male runners for the first portion of the race, however they were dropped during the hilly portion of the course where the race rises over 130 feet just before mile 6. She was then left to run all alone, attempting to catch male runners fading in front of her. Goucher was encouraged on the course by her husband Adam, who was driving along the course and stopping to cheer for her where he could (he was seen five times from the press truck).
For all the Americans, San Antonio only mattered in terms of getting ready for the Olympic Marathon Trials. Goucher said she was hoping for a 71:00, but most importantly she left the race healthy. If she can stay healthy, she knows she has a strong shot to make the 2016 Olympic marathon team.
Kara said she was told before the race that Flanagan was not going to race for the win in San Antonio, but Kara said she also knew the competitive nature of her former training partner, and wasn’t sure Flanagan would stick to the script. Flanagan by and large stuck to it, although coach Schumacher, who sat next to LRC on the pace truck, was the slightest bit disconcerted at the beginning that Flanagan was running faster than the 5:40s they had talked about for the first three miles. She hadn’t done training under 6-minute pace until this week but looked fine running better than 5:35 pace the entire way.
Both Flanagan and Cragg said they felt good, so they went slightly quicker than the pace coach Schumacher had talked about. Cragg, a Brooks athlete, has relocated to Portland and is now training full-time with Flanagan under Schumacher, a Nike-paid coach. Flanagan gets a training partner out of the deal, which she said she needs for her marathon prep.
Flanagan and Cragg were coming off a stint at altitude in Flagstaff, and Cragg said the plan is to repeat the altitude stint before the Trials.
QT: #1 All That Matters is Los Angeles and Getting Close to the “Ceiling”
Today’s results mean almost nothing. The win for Goucher does importantly show she is healthy and fit, but besides that all it shows is she is further along in her training than Flanagan and Cragg and put emphasis on racing here.
For athletes like Kellyn Taylor and Lauren Smith, it shows their long-shot hopes of making the Olympic team are still very long.
Coach Schumacher during the race today talked about athlete’s “ceilings” – the best performance they can do. Flanagan, with her 2:21 marathon PR, has shown her ceiling right now is higher than anyone else at the Olympic Trials. She will not have to be close to her ceiling to make the team.
Goucher’s ceiling in the past was the next-highest of everyone racing today, but has that ceiling been surpassed by Cragg? That is debatable, but both Cragg and Goucher will have to be close to their ceiling to make the team, especially if Desi Linden is fit and near her ceiling which would be above everyone else’s in the field except for Flanagan’s.
For Taylor and Smith, they will need to run near their “ceiling” at the Trials and likely have a few other athletes not reach their ceilings. Will it take a 2:25 effort to snatch the third Olympic spot? That is the big question.
None out of Goucher, Flanagan, or Cragg plans to race again before the Trials, so for marathon fans, all they can do is speculate and wait for Los Angeles.
Video interviews with Goucher, Flanagan, and Cragg below, plus results.
Kara Goucher the Champ
Shalane Flanagan Starting Her Marathon Prep
Amy Cragg on Today and Switching to Train with Shalane Flanagan
Tops Results Below. Full results here. Discuss the race on our forum:
Men’s Race: Aaron Braun won the men’s race in 1:04:10 comfortably over Jeffrey Eggleston in 1:05:43