In my last post, I mentioned Jenny Barringer Simpson, generally known simply as Jenny B. In the world of the Internet and especially FloTrack, one “sees” more of an elite athlete than before and B has been a fixture, with post-race and other interviews and workout videos. (It’s amazing how people, myself included, will watch someone else’s workout.)
I found myself getting an invitation to a New Balance conference-call press-conference today with Simpson. She was in Italy, preparing for a couple of final races in Europe. After she spoke briefly there were a number of questions. I found a few answers interesting.
Asked whether she knew that Morgan Uceny was one of those who fell during the 1500 final, she said that she doesn’t focus on the identity of her competitors during a race. They’re bodies. She didn’t know it was Uceny until about an hour after the race, while Simpson was in drug testing. Some had noted that Simpson had not consoled Uceny immediately after the race. This is apparently whey. She said that Uceny was genuinely happy about Simpson’s victory.
If you’ve read Lauren Fleshman’s blog post on her experience in the 5000, you get a sense of the drama involved in just getting to the start. Asked about Matt Centrowitz, the bronze-medal winner in the men’s 1500, she said his poise was amazing. For her part, she had gone through three Olympics and World’s before this one and the experience takes getting used to. That Centro handled it so well spoke volumes, she said, for his maturity.
She made a point about how a championship final is different from all other races in that there are three races in five days. Her strength background from the Steeplechase served her well. She also said that a 1500 is completely different from the Steeple; people are not so bunched and there are gaps because of the 35 hurdles. By contrast, in a 1500, if you get gapped, you get dropped (not unlike, I imagine, a cyclist).
I watched the video of the 1500 before the call (the following has an isolated shot of Uceny’s fall, but I still can’t figure out what happened), and I noticed that Simpson went to the back of the pack immediately and then shot around virtually everyone on the curve in the second 100 to get near the front. She then steadily moved through and to the back as the race progressed. I asked her to talk us through her approach.
Everyone went out fast, she said, and then put on the brakes after the 100. So she simply carried through. Most important, doing that helped her steady herself for the remainder of the race, allowed her to settle in. She knew the race would be herky-jerky but minimized its initial effect by not putting on the brakes herself when the 100 was hit.
Simpson spent a fair amount thanking those who got her where she is, from her high-school coach to her current coach to her husband. And she’ll be volunteering at the Monument, Colorado library in the off-season.
[Edited to add: Running Times has put up a number of the answers. Strangely, it attributes all the questions to "RT".]