Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan took to the track in Moscow, Russia yesterday for the IIAF World Championships in the women’s 10,000 meter run and finished eighth in a time of 31:34.83.
The bulk of Flanagan’s training over the last year revolved around the Boston Marathon, though the won the United States national title (her 15th overall) in the 10K in June to qualify for worlds.
Yesterday, Flanagan carried the pace early in the race; she led the pack after about a mile in 4:59, but fell back around the halfway point in the race. Her final time of 31:34.83 was nine seconds better than the 31-year-old’s time at the US championships a few months ago.
“To have a race I’m really proud of I had to keep it honest. I don’t have the leg turnover right now and I knew I had to be in a 31 minute race to be in contention,” Flanagan said in an interview with FloTrack on the track in Moscow after the race.
Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia won the women’s 10,000 meter gold in 30:43.35 followed by Gladys Cherono of Kenya for silver in 30:45.17.
For Flanagan, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 10K, when she ran 30:22.22 and set an American record. Since then, her training has shifted to longer distances, and those often run on roads and cross country rather than on a track. That subtle difference in training, especially focusing on an event as prestigious and competitive as the Boston Marathon, is more than it appears to be.
“It’s just the reality of athletics. My goal was Boston and this was a secondary goal, to make it to World’s. Once I made it, I reassessed and saw what was feasible. I’m training to be a hybrid athlete right now and I have to be OK with that,” she said.
Flanagan’s finish was the best by an American woman at the distance in this year’s World Championships. She said she plans to do one more track race this year and see what lies ahead for next year.