Dathan Ritzenhein - Nike

Dathan Ritzenhein - Nike

Dathan Ritzenhein - Nike

Interview done with USATF.org | link to interview

American distance star and 2004 Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein on Tuesday spoke to the media via USATF teleconference. Ritzenhein will compete in a special 2-mile competition this Saturday, June 4, at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, the fourth stop on USA Track & Field's 2005 Outdoor Visa Championship Series.

Below are excerpts from Tuesday's call.

Q: How do you feel about your season so far, and about your upcoming 2-mile race at Prefontaine?

A: Everything so far has kind of been going as planned. We haven't had too many misfortunes. I had a couple midway through my earlier season. I started out real strong and had a few good races recently. I'm gearing my training more toward 10k later in the summer. I'm trying also to be as ready as I can to race this 2 mile this weekend. I'm excited to be going against such a strong field.

Q: You and Alan Webb (who also is in the Pre Classic 2 Mile field) are thought of as the two young phenoms of your era. What is your history in racing against him?

A: It's been all cross country so far. This will be the first time we've ever raced on the track. Every time, it's kind of been to my advantage a little bit, because we've raced a little bit longer distances, and generally cross country is a stronger race for me to run. This time, I'm coming in more toward his specialty. I think I'm a little bit of an underdog, probably. I'm excited to be in that position and hopefully will be able to pull off a really good race and show that I can still run shorter distances even though I'm more of a 10k runner. ... I think you can't go into races thinking specifically about structuring my whole race around Alan. If he was second-to-last and I was last, that wouldn't be a good race. I don't want to get beat by him, but at the same time, I'm not overwhelming myself with the thought.

Q: What is your best 2 mile time?

A: In high school, I ran 8:44. I haven't run one recently, but I've run several 3ks.

Q: Any sense of how fast the race might be?

A: I wouldn't be surprised if somebody tried to run 8 minutes. The majority of people on a really, really good day will be around 8:10 to 8:20. It will be an interesting difference. 218 meters is a big difference between a 3k and a 2-mile. Maybe people will be dying the last 200 meters. We'll see. I think I'm in shape to run under 8:15, and in good enough shape to get near 8:10. I'm going to be aggressive. I'm not going to go to the back and stay there.

Q: You had an injury during the Olympic Trials last year. Do you think of yourself as a fragile guy, and is there always kind of a battle between how hard you can work before you break down?

A: I think that I'm not that fragile. The injuries I had over the last couple of years were related to things that I fixed. Right now, knock wood, I haven't had more than a sore muscle in the past 8, 9 months, and I've been training pretty hard. Before that, I had a big chunk of injuries and was doing some things wrong. I think I put that behind me. Injuries are part of the sport.

Q: Who is the favorite in the race this weekend?

A: Probably (Eliud) Kipchoge (of Kenya). He's run 7:28 this year already for 3k, so he's definitely ready to go.

Q: Do you have any other 10ks scheduled besides the U.S. championships? (The USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be held June 23-26 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.)

A: I won't race again (before nationals). I might do the 5k at the U.S. championships as well. They're only a day apart, so it will be pretty difficult. I plan to go to Europe and get in some good races. I'd like to do some 3ks as well. It's the perfect distance to sharpen yourself.

Q: You've been with Brad Hudson for 8-9 months. What are you doing in terms of training and what is different?

A: I really like working with Brad. He's very enthusiastic and optimistic. It's always fun to come to workout with somebody who's as excited as you are. That attitude has helped my training. The training direction I'm taking now is a lot more conducive to keeping myself healthy, and that is the key for me having a great career. At this point I've run 27:32 and 13:22 and 7:43 off of fairly inconsistent training. If I can stay healthy though this year, I think next year is really going to be a big improvement.