The 2008 Olympian has a new PR in her sights for Sunday’s race.
At 39 years of age, Blake Russell isn’t getting older, just better.
Perhaps not better in the sense of absolute times, but with a better perspective on running and her racing achievements in terms of the overall scheme of life. Nearly two decades of high-level competition and two young children will tend to give you a perspective you might not have possessed in your younger days.
“I definitely have a different perspective on my training and races now,” she said as she prepares to return to the marathon, a distance at which she made the 2008 Olympic team. “When you just have running, and things are going bad, it tends to magnify it.”
That’s not to say she’s settling for slower times in a concession to age; indeed, she feels in good enough shape to better her PR of 2:29:10, set nine years ago while placing seventh at the Chicago Marathon. And her races this year—33:10 at the Beach to Beacon 10K in August and a third-place result at the New Haven 20K on Labor Day—backs up those hopes.
What could tweak those aspirations, however, is if Sunday’s weather is even colder and windier than predicted.
“I’ll have to reevaluate my plans if the weather is really bad,” she said. “If things break up I may have to run a little faster than planned; I don’t want to be out there running alone. I don’t think anyone’s going to jump out in front and do anything stupid; it certainly won’t be me.”
In the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials marathon, in which Russell ran a controlled race and finished third, and this year’s 20K championships, which heat and humidity turned into a race of attrition, she’s shown that she’s a smart, cagey racer, having taken the lessons of long-time coach Bob Sevene, who guided Joan Benoit Samuelson through her stellar career.
After Sunday’s race, Russell will take some down time with her family and then look at 2016, with an eye on the USA Cross Country nationals in Boulder, Colo.
“I’ve always loved cross country,” Russell said.
Next year will also be a landmark as Russell enters the masters ranks on July 24. With Deena Kastor’s recent success in masters racing and her own career renaissance, Russell’s future may well exemplify becoming both older and better together.