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Most of us would celebrate winning the Olympics by drinking our bodyweight in beer or relaxing on an empty beach. Of course most of us aren’t Gwen Jorgensen. In the two months since Jorgensen won Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro, she has finished second at the final round of the ITU World Triathlon Series, third at the USA Track and Field 10-mile Championships running race and first at the recent three-day Island House Invitational Triathlon in the Bahamas.
Jorgensen isn’t done. This Sunday, she will participate in the TCS New York City Marathon. Not only will it be her first marathon, the 26.2-mile race will mark the furthest distance Jorgansen has ever run continuously.
In the lead-up to the race, Jorgensen spoke to a small group of media about her race preparation, her desire to start a family, and her expectations for the race.
Q: Can you talk about your training for the marathon? What was your longest run, and did you continue to swim and bike in the leadup to the race?
Gwen Jorgensen: Leading up to the Olympic games my longest run ever was 12 miles. Since the Olympics I’ve had a couple of other triathlons and I sat down with my coach, Jamie Turner, and decided there was no way to just change everything and strictly become a marathon runner. That would risk injury. I’ve continued swimming and biking. It’s maybe unconventional, but maybe the best thing for me. I look at [2012 Olympic champion] Nicola Spirig, and a few weeks before the Olympics she did a 70.3 triathlon which people thought was crazy. Since the Olympics, my long run has been increasing, and my longest was 16 miles. My coach has given me one marathon-specific workout a week.
Q: What is your goal for the marathon?
GJ: That’s the question I get asked the most. Every [triathlon] I go into I have expectations, and I know from my training what I can accomplish. For the marathon, I have no idea. I have way too much respect for the marathon and the course, so I’m not setting any goals or expectations. I have no idea what will happen on race day. I did a 10-mile race a few weeks ago. Every step over 10 miles will be a new experience. For me that is the excitement. I’m smiling thinking about it right now.
Q: What has been your weekly running mileage for the marathon, and how does it compare to what you normally do in triathlon?
GJ: I measure distance in kilometers. I average between 60-70km a week running, and I run anywhere from six to nine times a week. Since training for [the marathon] I’ve probably stayed about the same in frequency, but I’ve kept my volume on the high end, so maybe 70-80km a week.
Q: You’ve talked about your desire to start a family. Are we going to see you competing in 2017? And what about the 2020 Olympics?
GJ: I do want to start a family and it’s one of the few things in the world that still you can’t plan. What I’d say is the goalie is out, and Patrick and I are trying. If I’m able to get pregnant, I would take a year off. There are a lot of women in sports—Nicola Spirig and Kara Goucher—who have had a child and come back and done their sport. For me that is really inspirational. Four years ago I wouldn’t have thought it was possible, but having these other women do it as mentors, it has allowed me to pursue every passion I want, and that to have a family and go to Tokyo 2020.
Q: Take us through your thought process around doing the marathon. Did you know before the Olympics that you wanted to do it?
GJ: It seemed like the perfect time to do [a marathon] after the Olympics. So I decided before the Olympics, but I didn’t adjust my training at all [before the Olympics].
Q: Do you see yourself stepping up to the Ironman distance one day?
GJ: That’s another common question I get. No. I have a lot of respect for the Ironman and 70.3 athletes, but it’s something that doesn’t really appeal to me. This weekend I did a three-day race and it was a non-draft legal on the bike, and that’s a totally different animal. The longer draft-prohibited races don’t appeal to me.
Q: Do you have a certain pace in mind?
GJ: I really have no idea. When you’ve never done a race over 10 miles, how do you even know? It’s going to be about feel. I can’t let my competitive nature get in the way of that too much. If you go out too quick, you will pay dearly. So I just want to go out there, have fun, and do what I love to do. I just hope there are lots of people there screaming “Go Gwen!”