The first of many miles

Flanagan considers going the distance

By Shira Springer
Globe Staff / April 20, 2009
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The BAA Women's Invitational Mile yesterday served as an exciting prelude to today's 113th Boston Marathon as Greenwood, Maine, product Anna Willard (4 minutes 38.6 seconds) edged Marblehead native Shalane Flanagan (4:40.2). Fellow Maine Olympian Joan Benoit Samuelson held the finish tape, only a couple of hours after she finished fourth in the women's division of the inaugural BAA 5K.

For Flanagan, the mile may have previewed greater involvement in next year's marathon weekend. She is seriously considering a 26.2-mile try in 2010.

With her bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the Beijing Olympics still relatively fresh, Flanagan and new coach Jerry Schumacher already are looking ahead to the London Olympics in 2012. They figured next year would be a good time to see how Flanagan could perform at the distance. Last week, she began integrating marathon-style training into her workout regimen with a speed session that featured seven 1-mile repeats.

Flanagan called New York and Boston "front-runners" when it came to selecting a debut marathon.

"I told Jerry that we need to find out what I should be doing in 2012, so that would mean trying a marathon and seeing if that's what I may be good at," said Flanagan, whose mother Cheryl Treworgy is a former women's marathon world-record-holder. "I may not be very good at it. We'll see. Genetics tells me I could be. I like the training. It seems fun. But I also like to mix it up. I love running the mile, too. I'm inspired easily. I see a good marathon, I want to run a marathon. I see a good mile. I want to run a mile."

Competing in the mile for the first time since college, Flanagan described her race yesterday as "all out the entire way." The course consisted of three laps, starting on Boylston Street, turning left on Dartmouth, left on Newbury, and left on Exeter before turning left back onto Boylston. The finish line was the same as it is for the Marathon. Flanagan likened the course to a cross-country mile. Both Willard and Flanagan described it as lots of fun, drawing energy from crowds of marathon runners and their family and friends.

"For me, it's my first time being in Boston for the Marathon," said Willard. "It's exciting to see the atmosphere around it. I never even considered running the Marathon. Everyone's got the fever around here, so it's pretty cool.

"I didn't know [I had the win] until the end. I'm not a big fan of looking back. I just kept running as hard as I could and came up with it."

Flanagan will have an up-close view of the women's race today, planning to tour the course on a TV truck. She hopes the experience will allow her to learn about the Marathon as she decides where to take her running career.

With a win in the men's mile, former University of Texas standout Darren Brown likes the direction his professional career is going. Brown finished in 4:11.6 to beat Ian Dobson (4:12.1), a 2008 Olympian and nine-time All-American at Stanford. Dobson and Steve Sherer made a hard push near the start of the third lap. Brown, however, was surprised nobody made a strong second move nearing the finish. With Brown starting in the second row, his win was a surprise in itself.

"I'm in more of a strength phase of my training," said Brown. "I haven't really started doing interval work yet. I've been on the track maybe twice. Going around the back, I kept waiting for the push to come up on me, but it never did, so I just reacted myself. I knew that the last 250 it was going to be a battle between Ian and I, so I made a hard move and didn't look back to go by him."

Jarrod Shoemaker of Maynard took the title in the inaugural BAA 5K in 14:29, easily beating Matthew Ely (14:59) of Natick. A 2008 Olympian in the triathlon, Shoemaker picked up the tempo heading uphill in Mile 1. The 5K followed the first few miles of the 2008 US Olympic marathon trials course.

In the women's race, Maria Varela of Brighton won in 17:37 followed by Kathy Fleming of Natick (17:40). Samuelson finished a strong fourth in the 5K in 17:43.

"I was surprised I could turn it over this morning, golly," said Samuelson, who's had a busy week flying in from Portland, Ore., making appearances, watching her son compete in a 10K race in Maine, and fitting in one last ski day at Sugarloaf Saturday.

"I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if I was jogging with friends . . . [Saturday], when I ran in the morning, I felt awful from all the travel. I need to do some speedwork. And I'm afraid I'm going to get hurt if I get on the track. It's a double-edged sword."

Commenting on the course, Samuelson added, "I reminisced a little bit because part of it was on the footprint of the trials course from last year. I was glad I wasn't going another 23.1 miles."

This year, Samuelson will leave that to the 26,400 runners making their way to Hopkinton this morning.