Molly Huddle Keeps It Short This Fall
By Barbara Huebner
BOSTON – A day after many American marathoners set personal bests at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, 2020 Olympic Marathon hopeful Molly Huddle cut that distance by 32 kilometers in earning her fifth career victory at the Reebok Boston 10K for Women.
“This was the first big race I ever won, back in 2008,” she said afterward. “It’s always been special to me.”
That win in 2008 also gave Huddle her first national title. Since then, she has earned 27 more – most recently in July, when she won her fifth-straight USATF Outdoor Championships 10,000-meter title, on her way to a ninth-place finish on September 28 at the IAAF World Championships in Doha. Huddle, 35, also holds American records at both 10,000 meters on the track (30:13.17) and for a women-only 10K on the roads (31:21).
A major breakthrough in the marathon, however, has so far eluded her. Since finishing third in her debut at the distance at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon (2:28:13), Huddle placed 13th at the Boston Marathon (2:50:28 in deplorable conditions) and fourth in NYC (2:26:44) in 2018 before coming in 12th at the Virgin Money London Marathon this spring (2:26:33).
Still, she has elected to skip a fall marathon in favor of focusing on making the team for Tokyo at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon on February 29, 2020, in Atlanta.
“My body always feels best coming off the faster stuff,” she said, citing imbalances and niggles she felt during her London preparations. “And my two best buildups out of the four I’ve done were off of a track season or a fast half marathon, so we thought we would stick with that pattern.”
Asked if the fast times set down by Americans in Chicago and the BMW Berlin Marathon this fall gave her any second thoughts, she said: “Both Berlin and Chicago looked like great days to run, but I don’t regret it. I think my body is feeling a lot better now than it did three or four months ago. For me, I think this is the best way to make the Olympic team, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
Going into London this April, Huddle had been hoping to run in the range of 2:22 or 2:23, and was clearly disappointed with her time. “I definitely didn’t feel as good as my last marathon at the start,” she said in a post-race interview in London.
That, she said after the Boston 10K, showed her “how important it was to get a handle on those little things. They weren’t anything that was enough to stop my training; it just made me a little less efficient. And in a marathon, you need everything to be firing well. You need everything to feel good. It was kind of a good wakeup call to remind myself that I need to get everything right before I start my (Trials) buildup.”
That includes a trip to Atlanta sometime in November to scout the course, so she will know how to mimic it throughout training. Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Huddle spends winters in Scottsdale, Arizona, so will be doing the bulk of her Trials training where it’s largely flat.
“We’re going to have to search for some hills,” she said. “That’s why I want to see the course first, so see exactly how big they have to be.”