We had the pleasure of catching up with one of the Canada’s most seasoned middle distance runners–2004 Olympian Malindi Elmore. The former Stanford standout, and major ambassador of Canadian running discusses the tactics of her race and what she did to prepare for racing at altitude. Malindi also talks about her last minute Pan Am plans, her crush on triathlon and what it’s like to be a part of a Mexican flash mob.
How did you approach your training leading up to Pan Ams? Is it difficult to race track so late in the season (out of season really!)
I was not planning to compete at Pan Ams until I received an email at the beginning of September from Athletics Canada wondering if I wanted to be on the team. At that point of the year I had already been off running for a month and actually did an Olympic distance triathlon (Kelowna Apple) and was excited about mixing things up with biking and swimming. I was not doing much running at all because I thought I had a long time before my next race. Initially I was not sure about the idea of racing so late in the year but after a few days of thinking about it I became really excited. It is always an honour to represent Canada and to compete at a major Championships. I set my goal to win the race and attacked my next six weeks of training with gusto. It was actually really fun to get back on the track again and it was exciting to see how quickly my track speed came around after my break. I also integrated some altitude training into my program and spent most of October at Big White (the local ski mountain) so I felt really well prepared heading into the Games. I am really glad I did the meet and I think doing a mini track season and touching onto speed again will really help me next season.
How did the race play out?
The stadium and track was beautiful. Apparently it was only completed a few weeks ago but from an athlete’s perspective it was great. The stands were packed and the crowd was enthusiastic. It felt like a big meet with lots of energy.
Unfortunately I had the #1 starting position so I was nervous about how I was going to control my position on the track, as this spot often means I end up leading (everyone breaks in behind) or “boxed-in”. I wanted to get off the line fast to get to the outside of lane 1 so I could control where I ended up but the Cuban girls managed to meet me off the line and before I knew it I was very solidly boxed. The Cuban girls completely controlled the pace and we were a very big pack running very slowly. I didn’t have any opportunities to move out of the position, although I was hoping by about 600m remaining in the race things would open up a bit. But everyone was happy to continue to jog along so we kept a lot of people in the pack that could have been dropped. I stayed patient and was completely in the zone and was waiting for my opportunity to get to a better position. With 400m to go we were still a much bigger pack than I expected and I wished I could get an opening to get off the rail and move up. However, we stayed slow until about 200m to go and then the Cuban girl (winner) just took off. Finally it opened up and I got out of the pack and I started running as fast as I could. With 150m to go I just thought ” you need to go hard” but I could see the top two girls running away from me. I was disappointed with the outcome as I really wanted to win the race. I would really like to watch the race again to see where I could have done things so I can learn for the next time. Our final times 4:26/4:27 was really really slow for this caliber meet. However, I was happy with how I approached my preparation for the race, how positive and good I was feeling during my warm-up, and how I raced – I just wished I had had another gear the last 200m but it is always the problem with tactical races.
Did you have a chance to watch Canada compete in any other events?
I watched the women in the semi-finals of the soccer. It was amazing. Wow, Mexicans are hilarious at soccer games! We had so much fun being in the stands and then it was so awesome to see Canada win the game with 3 minutes left to make the final. I missed their final because of my own race but I was so happy to hear that Canadian women beat Brazil to win Pan Ams. Other than that, the only other sport I watched was track.
We read that you were doing some pretty heavy triathlon training prior to your Pan Am build-up. How do you think cross training translates to your running?
I kind of have a secret thing for triathlon! I think that cross training is a good thing for me to integrate into my training as it gives my body a rest from the hard impact of running but gives me the opportunity to develop my aerobic capacity and other muscle groups. Obviously for most of the year I need to do specific running training but for the end of summer/ fall season I love mixing it up on my bike!
How was the hospitality and athlete village in Guadalajara?
Guadalajara has been a great host. The people are super nice and love Canadians. I did a day trip into Guadalajara today, (most people do not get the opportunity to see anything but the village and the venue) and it was so beautiful. I was so glad I went on my adventure because I had the best beef fajitas of my life and saw some really amazing galleries and stores.
Can you tell us about a funny story/event that happened while in Mexico?
I was walking through a beautiful plaza today, enjoying the sites and sounds when all of a sudden dance music bursted out over the PA. Everybody around me jumped up and I was in the middle of a Mexican Flash Mob. It was pretty funny!
Elmore’s sense of humour and eagnerness to infect others with her passion for running make her invaluable to our sport.
Interested in being coached by a pro? Attend one of Malindi’s Canadian Runner Clinics.
Also check out Malindi’s Blog
Check back for our live interview with Malindi soon.