|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - November 05 2017 : 18:29:46
This U.S. Woman Took 26 Minutes Off Her PR to Place 5th at the New York City Marathon
Sunday, November 5, 2017
By Cathal Dennehy
t was, Allie Kieffer said, the best experience of her life.
The 30-year-old Long Islander enjoyed an unforgettable morning at the New York City Marathon today, smashing her best road marathon time by 26 minutes to finish as the second American, fifth overall, in 2:29:39.
Her expression after was a mix of disbelief and joy, and given the struggles that Kieffer endured in recent years, it was no surprise to see the dam finally burst on her emotions.
“I thought I could run 2:31 in my wildest dreams,” she said. “It just couldn’t have gone any better.”
Just three years ago, Kieffer didn’t see herself ever jogging a marathon, never mind racing one, against the world’s best. A talented college athlete who qualified for but didn’t run the 2012 Olympic Trials 10K, she saw her career halted by injuries the year after.
RW SHOP: Celebrate the New York City Marathon, the day where everyone runs the city!
With no way to support herself, she moved from her training base in Boulder, Colorado, to New York City, getting a job as a nanny to support herself.
“I was like: I’m done,” Kieffer said. “I didn’t run at all for the first year, but I didn’t have any friends so I started running to make some.”
She joined the New York Athletic Club and began coaching, though back then running was just a means to widen her social circle. But talent is a permanent commodity, and the more she trained, the more Kieffer realized she had the ability to pick up decent money on the road-racing scene.
That’s how, in January last year, she found herself on the start line of her first marathon in Miami, which she won in 2:55:30 despite not preparing specifically for the race. Three months later, she completed an unusual challenge at The Armory, breaking the world record for the indoor marathon and reeling off 211 laps of the 200-meter track in 2:44:44.
But lining up alongside the best marathoners in the world in New York, Kieffer still felt a little out of place, and not just because of her modest PR.
“I’ve always been on the bigger side,” she said. “For a long time I felt like I needed to look like Shalane Flanagan or Mary Keitany to do well, especially in the marathon, where everyone talks about how lean others are.”
Kieffer, who has endured her own struggles with weight loss over the years, hopes her performance sends a positive message to young athletes.
“I’ve been surrounded by a lot of people that have eating disorders, and it’s a toxic mentality,” she said. “You see so many people who lose their careers and it’s so sad. If there’s anything I could pass along to younger runners: Love yourself, eat healthy through your college years, and you’ll be stronger on the other side.”
PODCAST: Eating Disorders and Running
Today, Kieffer was a picture of strength from start to finish. She ran with the lead pack through the opening five miles, but when they stepped on the gas Kieffer soon found herself running alone.
“I thought that would be my worst nightmare,” she said. “But the city screamed my name for 12 miles along the way and it turned into the best cheering section ever for Allie Kieffer.”
Before the race she consulted with several veterans of the New York City Marathon, and their advice followed a similar trend: Be conservative.
Kieffer reached halfway in 1:16:36, then slowly cranked through the gears over the miles that followed through Manhattan, her average pace moving from 5:45 per mile closer to 5:30. By 20 miles she had moved up to 11th place, and she continued to pick off others all the way to the finish in Central Park.
“When I passed them, I said [to myself], ‘Don’t even give her a chance,’ ” Kieffer said. “ ‘Fly by so they can’t hang on.’ ”
In the final miles she thought of everyone who helped her get to that point: her boyfriend, her family, her running group in Buffalo, New York, who call themselves the Village because of their community spirit.
Afterward, her mind couldn’t help but flash back to those she lost over the years.
Kieffer took up running as a young girl after being inspired by her older sister, Meghan, who was killed in an eight-car collision in Newark, Delaware, in 2007. Two of her grandparents were killed when a fishing boat they chartered capsized off the coast of Florida. An uncle passed away in a car crash involving a drunk driver, while another uncle drowned after falling off a boat.
“It’s scary,” she said. “It’s like my family is cursed.”
Today, however, proved a magical day for the whole clan. Kieffer’s dad drove up from Alabama to lend his support while her mom was also out there, lost somewhere among the thousands of voices roaring her on.
The weeks leading into the race brought their share of stress, with Kieffer unable to complete her usual weekly training of 95-105 miles because of tendinitis in her foot. “Two weeks ago I said there’s no way I can run, but the last few days I was trying to change the mind and tell myself I was fit, I was fresh,” she said.
In the end, her elongated taper brought an unimaginable breakthrough, one that could lead to Kieffer becoming a sponsored, full-time professional athlete.
“If this opens the door and I can continue my running, I would be amazed, excited, and overjoyed,” Kieffer said. “It’s not glamorous to be out there looping around the same park 12 times doing 20-mile runs with people thinking you’re crazy, but I love the process and I love the outcome. I’ll always be a runner.”
|2 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
||Posted - November 06 2017 : 11:48:59
I am very excited for you, Allie. Congrats and God bless!!
I followed the race on ESPN 2 from mile 22-end, hoping to see you. Luckily, your progress was tracked on the top of the screen.
||Posted - November 06 2017 : 06:47:54
Congratulations Allie! You are a truly exciting runner!