Running: Ritzenhein is Ready to Race One of the great American hopes in Sundayís New York City marathon is two-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. To win, he will have to top the defending champion, Meb Keflezighi of the US.
Photo Courtesy: ww.iaaf.org/Mark Shearman - Dathan Ritzenhein of the US wins the Belfast Cross Country.
One of the great American hopes in Sundayís New York City marathon is two-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. To win, however, the former University of Colorado runner will have to top the defending champion, Meb Keflezighi of the US, as well as one of the greatest distance runners of all time, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, who will be making his New York City debut. Ritzenhein sat down with teamusa.org on Wednesday as he anticipated the fifth marathon of his career, in the place where his marathon odyssey all began: New York City.
When is the last time you were in New York City? (Ritzenhein is based in Portland, Oregon, and does his high-altitude training in Albuquerque, New Mexico.)
Not since 2008. They invited me back after the Olympics because I was the first American [finisher] in Beijing.
The 2008 New York race was only a few months after the Games Ė too soon to run another marathon. But you made your debut here, in 2006, before placing second at the Olympic Trials, ninth in Beijing, and 11th at the 2009 London Marathon in a lifetime best 2 hours 10 minutes. Do you remember the first time you ran New York? You finished 11th, but you said you bonked.
In 2006, I completely hit the wall, and it all happened in the last couple of miles. I totally underestimated how much fuel you need. I think I took in maybe 250 calories the whole race. I was with the leaders till mile 21 and came completely undone and struggled with a 6:30 mile pace. It was a big lesson; I was humbled.
Whatís your nutrition plan for Sundayís race?
Iíll probably consume 800 calories in this race. Iíve been working with a USOC sports nutritionist who planned my diet for the past several weeks.
Youíve also changed coaches since your marathon debut. (In 2009, Ritzenhein began working with three-time New York City marathon champion Alberto Salazar who has been tinkering with Ritzenheinís running style ever since, asking him, for example, to alter his foot strike, elbow swing, even his thumb position.) Some of Salazarís form changes led to debilitating foot injuries. At this point, has your new running form become automatic, or do you still have to think about it?
I still have to think about it, for sure. Trying to do the right thing for the marathon has not necessarily been the right thing for the form change. After this, Iíll have a whole year to keep at it. One thing I learned, is that it has to be a slow process. We tried to do it so fast that it initially [backfired]. I want to make sure we do it in a smart, progressive way instead of going all-in like we did [earlier]. I have no problem if it takes me two years to get it to where we want it to be.