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March 29, 2009

Kate O'Neill - World Class Runners

Written by Dena Evans

The Palo Alto area has had a long tradition of hosting top distance runners for training.  Kate is one of the most recent additions to this list, having lived here part time since 2006.  A Milton, Massachusetts native and 2003 Yale grad, Kate is an identical twin to fellow All-American and former World Cross Country Championships team member Laura O’Neill, and was a 2004 Olympian in the 10,000 meters (qualifying with an Olympic A Standard performance at the 2004 Cardinal Invitational).   Despite an untimely injury before the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, Kate has enjoyed great success in her young marathon career, including a third place finish in the 2007 La Salle Bank (now Bank of America) Chicago Marathon (the hot one).  She is currently preparing for the Flora London Marathon on April 26th, tuning up with a 10,000 meter victory at the 2009 Stanford Track & Field Invitational on March 27th.

Kate is affiliated with Mammoth Lakes’ Team Running USA group, home of some of the nation’s best marathoners: Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Deena Kastor, to name a few, and is sponsored by online social networking presence Strands.

1.    Have you always wanted to run marathons, or has this been a recent development?

I’ve always wanted to run one, but hadn’t felt ready to run one until the last few years.

2.    What was one thing that was harder than expected and one thing that was easier than expected?

I guess the thing that was harder than expected was… I knew that “hitting the wall” was bad, but it was definitely harder than anything I imagined, not necessarily just the physical, but the mental strength required for those last few miles.  The thing that was easier was how the long tempo runs suit me better than going to the track and doing 12×400 meters or something.  The longer stuff is hard, but it doesn’t seem to be quite as hard on my body as the shorter track workouts.

3.    You dealt with one of the most extreme weather situations in recent big marathon history in your first one ever.  How did you prepare to fuel and keep hydrated?

The biggest thing I think I benefitted from was really putting a priority on learning how to take drinks while running, practicing it all throughout my training.  The day came, and with the high temperatures, I decided that I was going to finish every single drop of fluid in every one of my bottles, and I was glad that I had made that a priority going in because it obviously had a huge impact.

4.    Do you find that you now consider yourself a “marathoner” or a distance runner still looking to run track and shorter distances?

As a distance runner, I felt like I had the most untapped potential in the marathon.  That is the PR that I most want to lower before I retire.  I want to improve all of my times, of course, but the marathon is the one where I want to really cut a big chunk of time off.

5.    Other than the long runs, what is the most crucial component of your marathon specific training?

The attitude of patience.  You just have to approach every workout with a different attitude.  You can’t have that same adrenaline going at the start, and you need to keep reminding yourself of how far you need to still go.  Both in the workouts and the race, you can’t go all out from the gun.

6.    Outside of the running, what are the ancillary activities you do to help support your training?

Weightlifting and a lot of core work.  10-15 minutes of drills every day.  I try to focus on little things that will hopefully keep my form as efficient as possible.

7.    Have you learned anything in your initial few marathon build-ups that you are trying to address or adjust to with this training push?

The last two marathon build-ups, I wasn’t completely healthy. So while I thought I was being good about stretching, physical therapy, massage, rest, etc, I am trying to really stay on top of those things to try and keep injuries away.

8.    What do you hope to accomplish at the upcoming Flora London Marathon- and beyond that race, what are some other races you hope to run in the coming months and years?

A PR is always nice, so I definitely want to PR and by as much as possible.  I’d love to run under 2:30, and anything under that would be icing on the cake.  I’d want to do New York at some point.  I also want to get back on the track and lower my 5k and 10k PR if not this year, then next year.  I definitely want to do the Boston Marathon as well, since I am from there!

Last modified on October 10, 2010
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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