BOSTON — Shalane Flanagan may run another marathon after Monday, but she does not plan to race the Boston Marathon as an elite again.
“I don’t know if this will be my last marathon, but I think this will probably, most likely, be my last Boston as an elite runner,” the Boston area native said Friday, three days before she starts the world’s oldest annual marathon for the fourth time. “I just feel like it’s the time. It’s an instinctual, intuitive moment for me. I just feel like putting that pressure on myself that it’s my last is kind of a good mentality, too.”
Flanagan, 37 and a four-time Olympian, said before the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5 that she might retire if she pulled off the upset and won the five-borough event. Flanagan did win, the biggest victory of her career, and soon after decided to keep on going.
In part because she wanted to rewrite her last Boston Marathon memory, what she has called “a stinker” of a ninth-place finish in 2015.
What happens if Monday’s race (8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold) — which appears likely to be run in similar rainy, windy conditions as 2015 — doesn’t go as hoped, either?
Flanagan doubled down.
“I think I’m going to make my peace with Boston on Monday,” she said. “If I come back, it’s going to be to support other runners and other people and foundations like Meb [Keflezighi] is doing.”
Flanagan didn’t close the door on trying to make a fifth Olympic team in 2020.
“I don’t know about that,” she said. “I have no idea.”
Flanagan is coming off training in Colorado Springs and Portland, Ore. She took no vacation or significant break after the New York win, but she is healthy.
“I knocked off a huge goal of mine [winning a major marathon],” she said. “I feel really at peace with my career. Coming here and racing is more like a personal event for me.
“I want this race so badly, I almost have to pretend like I don’t want to win it in order to do well. It’s a reverse psychology for sure because this is home. These are the people that I want to make the most proud.”
Flanagan likes the fact that she isn’t the only one with a chance to end the 33-year drought since the last American female runner won on Boylston Street. The younger Desi Linden, Molly Huddle and Jordan Hasay have all finished in the top three of major marathons and are among the favorites.
“What happened in New York with myself I think has allowed the Americans to say, I’ve beaten Shalane, I’m just like Shalane,” she said. “If Shalane can do it, why can’t I do it?”
One of the first things Flanagan noted in Friday’s media session was the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996, when she stood on the corner of Hereford and Boylston at age 14 and watched her dad run this race.
“It’s a full-circle moment, coming back to where it all started,” she said. “I’m hoping to have my best Boston on Monday.”
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