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Amy Hastings And Kim Smith: Roomies

The pair have teamed up to run the New York City Marathon.

The pair have teamed up to run the New York City Marathon.

From: NYRR Media

From her usual seat in the dining room, Amy Hastings talked about life in Providence.

“I love it,” said the Rhode Island newcomer of the city’s varied neighborhoods and training environment. “It feels very comfortable. I feel as if I adjusted very easily.”

From across the table came verification. “It’s amazing how well she’s adjusted,” said veteran marathoner Kim Smith.

That Hastings has a seat at the table both in this cozy white house and in the ING New York City Marathon on November 4 is due to Smith and a fortuitous phone call.

It has been a roller-coaster year for the 28-year-old Hastings, who in 2011 made an impressive marathon debut when she ran 2:27:03 in a drenching rain to finish second at the Honda LA Marathon. After finishing fourth in January at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, missing the team by one spot, the heartbroken athlete turned her attention to making Team USA at in the 10,000 meters. Not only did she make the team but she also won the race, and went on to compete in the Olympic final.

But immediately afterward, she opted for a change and left the Mammoth Track Club, going home to Leavenworth, KS, to nurse a lingering bone bruise in her left foot and live in her parents’ basement while figuring out what to do next. With no coach and no training partners, a fall marathon seemed out of the question.

Then her phone rang. David Monti, a professional athlete consultant with the ING New York City Marathon, was on the line.

“I was kind of upset,” Hastings recalled. “I definitely cried on the phone to him, [telling him] ‘I have no idea what I’m doing, I didn’t think it would take this long.’” With some rest, her foot had healed, and she was feeling healthier than she had in months.

“I wanted to be training again,” she said. “That’s when David said, ‘let’s think.’”

A Plan Develops, With A Hitch

What about, he asked, a temporary situation, training with Smith for the New York race, before making a decision about a long-term situation? Smith, almost 31 and a three-time Olympian for New Zealand, ran for Providence College and is still coached by Ray Treacy. She was training to better her fifth-place NYC finishes in 2010 and 2011 just as her usual training partner, Molly Huddle, was wrapping up her 5K season on the track.

It was the last week of August. Smith and her longtime boyfriend, Patrick Tarpy, were to be married the next Saturday, September 1. Hastings loved the idea of an interim solution, but she knew Smith only through Huddle and didn’t feel that a few days before Smith’s wedding was necessarily the best time to ask. Monti encouraged her to reach out, since the training clock was ticking. So she did. Smith replied within hours. Hastings had a plane ticket that day, and arrived on Smith’s doorstep September 4 to live in her back bedroom for the next two months while they teamed up to prepare for New York.

When the doorbell rang, the newlyweds were watching something on HBO “and it was a bit risqué,” recalled Smith. “There was a scene and I thought, ‘oh, she’s going to think this is going to be weird.’”

Calling Smith and Tarpy the most laid-back people you could imagine, Hastings said that any nervousness about the living situation evaporated quickly. “Almost immediately, they were like, ‘oh, take the car.’ It was all very welcoming and homey.”

Many hours of watching “Mad Men” later, the two women sound as if they’ve been housemates forever.

Not Much Time

Tarpy, a former top regional runner who often paces the pair on their workouts and has taken on most of the household duties during their training, said in an e-mail that he had no qualms about Hastings moving in. “Amy being around is great for Kim,” he wrote, “especially coming back quickly from the Olympics. It makes the training feel a bit different despite the training and scenery being similar.”

Plus, he added, “Amy being around also gets me out of accompanying Kim on most of her evening runs.”

With both athletes coming off the Olympic Games, they faced a short build-up to New York. Hastings had resumed running after a two-week layoff, but Smith was already doing 4 x 2-mile repeats. When Hastings set out to do 2 x .75-mile repeats with her, she could do only one and even then fell off the pace at the end.

“Everything was a shock,” she said.

But two weeks ago, Smith did 5 x 2-mile repeats and Hastings did all but the last mile of the final repeat.

“She kept up the entire way, and her last mile was really fast,” said Smith. “It was amazing to see the difference. She’s tough.”

Train Hard, Relax Harder

Unlike many runners, Smith and Huddle tend to freelance a bit as far as their schedule is concerned, and Hastings got right on board. Most days, they leave for their morning workout around 10:30, often heading out to Lincoln Woods, where the 2.5-mile, hilly Les Pawson Loop conveniently mimics the terrain of Central Park. (Fittingly, Les Pawson was a life-long Rhode Islander who won the Boston Marathon in 1933, 1938, and 1941.)

“Our group here does things differently than what she’s used to,” said Smith. “We’re very relaxed the way we do things. Some people would find that hard to deal with. I was afraid she would think we were really unprofessional.”

Hardly, said Hastings, citing the biggest thing she’s learned from Smith. “They work their asses off, and then they relax when they need to relax. A lot of people who can hit the workouts don’t always recover properly, and Kim is really good at that. Some people have a hard time doing nothing and if she has to, she will do nothing and make sure she is ready for the next workout and she is always …”

Smith interrupts. “I’m good at resting. Actually it’s because I’m lazy and I like to sit on the couch and watch TV.”

Hastings, laughing, said, “She’s really good at recovery.”

Smith admits, “I’m really good at watching TV.”

As for Smith, she’s learned from Hastings how to push more on long runs, but also to be more positive. “I can get a little negative and pessimistic about my racing,” said Smith. “It’s nice to be around Amy; she’s so happy and optimistic about life. It’s so refreshing. She’s been motivating me: I always have strides down on my schedule from Ray and I never do them. But she’s like, ‘c’mon, let’s go and do them.’ She motivates me to get out and do things properly. She’s been under those strict schedules before and it’s making me not procrastinate as much with my runs.”

Soon it will end. Smith and Tarpy will fly to Hawaii for a delayed honeymoon directly from New York, the day after the marathon. Hastings will fly to San Diego, where she will empty out her storage unit and, with her mother, drive back to Leavenworth. There, she will move back into her parents’ basement to mull the next step.

And to listen for her phone to ring.