She’s using the race to gauge her fitness.
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NEW YORK — Eleven months ago, in an interview prior to the 2011 Boston Marathon, Desiree Davila of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project labeled herself as a marathoner. Sitting in a hotel ball room in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the then 27 year-old explained her connection with the 42.195 kilometer distance, and how the grind-it-out aspect of the race played to her advantage.
“I’m a pure marathoner,” she admitted. “If you look at my half-marathon times compared to anyone else in this room, I’m not in the same ballpark as them.”
Now nearly a year later, Davila, 28, still considers herself a marathoner, but a changed one at that. Since then, the native of California has finished runner-up in Boston, improved her personal best to 2:22:38, and earned a spot on the starting line for the Olympic Marathon in London by virtue of her second place finish at January’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
But what has changed for Davila is her attitude going into races. No longer aiming to be just the top American finisher, which she was in Boston, Davila is now focused on taking her game to the next level, hoping to contend with the world’s best for a medal in London and beyond.
“I want to give myself a shot to medal,” Davila told reporters here today. “What kind of medal that is? Who knows. I certainly think I can be fighting for the top three.”
In Sunday’s NYC Half Marathon, a race which features fourteen women who have run under 1:11:00, Davila will get a chance to test her fitness and race some of the world’s best athletes. Using the race as an indicator of fitness, Davila will see how her training has progressed following her runner-up finish at the Trials two months ago.
“It’s been a short training period, two weeks off, two weeks easy [after the Trials], so I have had about a month to build up to this,” said Davila. “[After the race] I’ll go back and know what to work on… Either way, I’m going to go home with some fire.”
With Sunday’s race being her first since the Trials, Davila is using the half marathon as a means to gear up before the long ten-week Olympic Marathon phase. But Davila still believes she can lower her 1:10:34 half-marathon personal best, something she considers to be “soft.”
Sunday’s race will take competitors through Central Park and Times Square before winding down the West Side Highway towards a new finish at the South Street Seaport. Between the men’s and women’s races, sixteen Olympians will vie for a piece of the $100,000 prize purse, with $20,000 going to the winners.
“I think that [personal best] could change in terms of PR numbers,” Davila observed. “I think I split through my [Olympic Trials] simulator workout at half marathon PR. It could be there, it will be a matter of how the race plays out.”