Shalane Flanagan to race New York City Marathon as if it’s her last (again)

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As Shalane Flanagan trains to defend her New York City Marathon title on Nov. 4, she repeats a line from a Toby Keith song.

“I’m not as good as I once was, but I was good once as I ever was.”

Flanagan began a media teleconference with Boston Marathon winner Des Linden on Tuesday by saying she definitely notices her age more in marathon build-up. Recovery days are more vital at 37 years old.

That said, Flanagan believes she has become a better marathoner in the last two years. Maybe that’s why she’s not saying whether this will be her last New York City Marathon as an elite racer, as she said of her hometown Boston Marathon in April after a seventh-place finish on Boylston Street.

She has not publicly ruled out trying to become the first U.S. distance runner to compete in five Olympics in 2020.

“The last two years since Rio, I’ve acted as if each marathon is my last,” said Flanagan, echoing her comments before last year in New York. “I haven’t really decided what the next step in my career is. I’m focused on the next 20 days being the best athlete I can be.

“I’m not in the phase of my career where I’m focusing years in advance. Until I cross the finish line on November 4th, I don’t know.”

In 2017, Flanagan became the first U.S. female runner to win New York in 40 years and the second-oldest women’s winner in 30 years. Linden’s triumph in the frigid, windy rain in Boston five months later followed, signaling a full-fledged American marathon movement.

They’re joined in the Nov. 4 field by more potential U.S. breakthroughs — Sally Kipyego and Molly Huddle, who were second and third in the 2016 New York City Marathon, a race that lacked Rio Olympic marathoners like Flanagan and Linden.

Kipyego is running her first major race since switching representation from Kenya to the U.S. and having daughter Emma in July 2017. Huddle, a two-time Olympian on the track, is the American record holder at 10,000m and the half marathon.

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