The 800m ace is ready for a full slate of indoor races this winter.
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
NEW YORK — Robby Andrews, the 2011 NCAA 800m champion, spoke to the New York Track Writer’s Luncheon yesterday at Coogan’s Restaurant in Upper Manhattan. He addressed questions about his upcoming indoor season, his disappointing Olympic Trials last summer, his present living situation, and his new job as a volunteer assistant coach at Princeton University. Over the next three weeks, Andrews will run the mile at the New Balance Games, the 1,000m at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, and the NYRR Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games. The questions and his responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Race Results Weekly: You really like running in the Armory…
Robby Andrews: I definitely call the Armory track my second home. In my opinion, it’s the best track in the world, indoor or outdoor. I’ve had a lot of special moments in track and field in my history at the Armory. A lot of people weren’t too happy with the move of the Millrose from Madison Square Garden to the Armory — I got to run at Madison Square Garden, so I got to do that — but, overall, I’m happy that it’s at the Armory because it’s the best facility you can run a race on.
You raced at the Armory a lot as a high schooler, and broke 1:50 for 800-meters at the National Scholastic Championships there in 2009.
I’ve definitely come a long way from my high school days. I’ve grown up a lot, that’s for sure. I’ve gotten a lot faster, and my outlook on track and field has changed a lot. Now, I’m a professional at this point. I’m not running for a university, running more for myself at this point. I’ve still managed to keep the same enjoyment level. I don’t look at it as going to work everyday as some people might.
We understand that you’ve moved back to your parent’s house in Manalapan, N.J., after leaving Charlottesville, Va.
I’m mooching off my parents for a little bit [laughs]. Home cooking, my Mom’s chicken parm; that’s the secret recipe right there.
Take us back to the 2012 Olympic Trials in Eugene where you finished fifth in the 1,500m. When you left the track you were so exhausted you had to be helped off the track to keep from falling down. What happened that day, and what did you learn from it?
It’s definitely painful to think about. You’ve got to reflect on your experiences. I definitely didn’t prepare well for that race. Physically, at least, I didn’t eat very much that day. I didn’t drink very much water. Coming around the last bend, Wheating is a big guy to get around. I didn’t quite have the energy to do it. Once I crossed the finish line, I was lucky to have my sister to carry me to the tent. It was definitely frustrating because I knew I was in good enough shape to make the team, especially with Andrew being injured.
So not eating enough was really that big a factor? What happened after that?
It was kind of shooting myself in the foot. So, it was definitely disappointing and frustrating. I tried to recover. I tried to go to Europe. I didn’t do too well in Europe, either. I ended up getting sick over there. I ran a 1:52 [in Kortrijk] and I dropped out of Kiprop’s 3:28 race [Monaco]. Then, I came home, had a good week of training and workouts, then I ended up with a terrible stomach virus. I lost 15 pounds in seven days. It was just a bad time for my training and everything. So, after Europe I decided to call it quits, to get back to school and focus on trying to get my degree, which didn’t happen either. I made good strides in reaching my degree, and got some good training in with my friend Brett Johnson who is now at the University of Oregon. Looking forward, I learned a lot from the Trials. I’m a pretty stubborn guy. I regret not making the Olympic team, but I don’t regret the experience. I’m going to take all the experience I learned and put it forward.
We heard that you did the 1,500m in the Trials instead of the 800m because you thought you could recover better between the rounds. Was there a lot of pressure because you had left the NCAA ranks early to turn pro?
I think it was a smart move to run the 1,500 and not the 800. I was pretty nervous. I had made all these changes. I had dropped out of school, dropped off the college team, and I had to make this big goal. I was doing all of this for the Olympics. It kind of got me all at once.
For February’s Millrose Games, where you’ll run the NYRR Wanamaker Mile, do you feel like you’ll have the hometown advantage racing at the Armory?
We’ve already bought our tickets. My parents have already bought their tickets. Some close friends have bought their tickets. At this point, I’ll take all the help I can get. If it’s the hometown crowd, I’ll take it. It’s better than running at Hayward Field in Oregon; give them [the athletes from Oregon, like Matthew Centrowitz] a taste of their own medicine.
You’re now a volunteer assistant coach at Princeton. What are your duties?
I call it active coaching. I work out with the guys. I give them encouragement as we’re running together. Whether we’re doing intervals or a long run, I make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
Evaluate your chances in the NYRR Wanamaker Mile. Do you think you’ll be competing for the top places?
I’d like to think so; I hope so. That’s an unbelievable field. Today’s the first day I saw all the competitors. It’s almost better than a U.S. final in my opinion. It’s just missing, Lagat, right? It’s going to be a great race no matter how you look at it. Centro wants to run fast, collegians want to break the record, a lot of guys want to run fast. If I can just stay with them, I’ll be all right.
Are you done racing the 800? Will the 1,500m be your sole focus?
I definitely want to run so me more fast 800s. It was very inspiring watching the Olympic Games this year watching Solomon and Symmonds run so well. I’m not saying I can run that fast, but it would be great to race the guys and continue to increase my speed in the 800, and just keep working on practicing competing. That will hopefully help the 1,500. So may races it goes out in two minutes, it ends up being an 800m race, ultimately.
On February 1 in the Armory, at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, you plan to run a fast 1000 meters. Tell us about it.
It’s 1000 meters, and the American record is 2:17.8 by David Krummenacker [2:17.86]. I’ve been feeling pretty fit. Training has been going really well. I ran a great 800 last week, 1:51, feeling great. So, if you run a 1:50, then 27, that’s 2:17 right there. So, I feel that if the pace is right, the competition is right, then anything’s possible. Anything under 2:20 would be great.