Following this past weekend’s USATF Indoor Nationals and Sioux City Native Shelby Houlihan won the 3K and the 1500m, the Sioux City Journal published the following article. For the full article click here!
Feature photo: Shelby Houlihan-SC East-Arizona St©Latinos Corriendo 2018
On Monday, the day after winning national championships on consecutive days for a second year in a row, Shelby Houlihan might have felt like taking a holiday, kicking back and relaxing.
That’s not how it works for most world-class athletes and Houlihan is certainly in that elite category.
No loafing for this 2011 East High grad. To the contrary, she boarded a 6 a.m. flight in Albuquerque and jetted home to Portland, where she spent just enough time to drop off her bags, do a telephone interview with me and then headed out for her daily 80-minute run.
Eighty minutes a day gets her somewhere close to 80 miles each week and that’s the level she’s reached after stretching things out gradually over her first three-plus years as a professional athlete.
A 2016 Olympic finalist in the women’s 5,000 meters. Houlihan repeated Saturday as the 3,000-meter champion at the USA Track and Field Indoor Nationals. Then, on Sunday, she reigned for a second year in a row as the national champ in the 1,500.
Since track and field isn’t as familiar as football or baseball to most sports fans, let me point something out here: When it comes to women’s indoor track, there are only six individual running events in the USATF indoor meet. That means Shelby is now the two-time defending national champion in a third of those.
This particular weekend double will now also send her to Birmingham, England, for the IAAF World Indoor Championships the weekend after next (March 1-4).
And, by the way, contrary to her initial plans, Houlihan will be vying for medals in both of her events.
“Jerry (Schumacher) had told me I probably wouldn’t (run the 1,500 in Birmingham),’’ she said, referring to her highly acclaimed coach with the Portland-based Nike/Bowerman Track Club. “So, I was telling people I wasn’t. But then after I won, he came up to me and said, yeah, we’re going to do both.’’
Even though she’d also won both events at last year’s indoor nationals, Houlihan had focused most of her training on the 3,000. Two weekends ago in Boston she clocked an 8:36.01, marking the second fastest time ever by an American woman. Running at over 5,000 feet above sea level Saturday, the times were predictably slower and she won in 9:00.08.
“I knew my strength was in the 3K, so I was mostly just focusing on that,’’ she said. “Going into the (1,500) it was just kind of for fun. I didn’t even think I was going to win that, especially going into that final lap. I just felt I was too far back (fifth place with 200 meters remaining). But I just kind of kept driving forward and running as fast as I could. I was hoping I could just pick some places off and finish as high as I could and I actually ended up winning.’’
The time two weeks ago in Boston, of course, was more than 80 seconds faster than that and don’t forget these indoor tracks are nearly all 200-meter ovals, which means 15 laps, not 7.5. That’s 60 turns instead of 30 in an outdoor race.