All that she did in 2014, was leading up to this race. The twelve and one half laps that Molly Huddle ran in Monaco Friday night, the two seconds off the AR, and, right after, Molly knew she could run faster…
Molly started the 2014 season with her third place debut in the NYC Half Marathon with a 1:09:04. On April 19, Molly Huddle won the BAA 5k in the last hundred meters, with her 15:12 win on Boston’s city streets, came in the last 100 meters.
Molly Huddle puts the peddle to the metal, June 14, 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net
On May 4, Molly was second with a fine 10,000 meters, and a new PB of 30:47, five seconds behind Sally Kipyego, who ran 30:42. On June 14, Molly Huddle battled a tough field in Central Park, setting a new AR for the 10k roads on a course so difficult that her race had to be seen to be believed. Battling Mamitu Deska over five and one half miles, Molly ran 31:37 on that god awful course.
Her 5,000 meter US title was hard fought, as Molly, lead most of the race, then, had to come from behind in the final 50 meters to win in the last several inches. Her win, on June 29, just showed that Molly not only was fit, but her final, gut wrenching lung at the finish, showed that she was, above all, hungry.
Last weekend, on July 13, Molly Huddle won a mile in Ireland with a PB of 4:26.81. Her manager, Ray Flynn, told me that she looked “fantastic, she was moving.” Ray Flynn, is not one prone to hyperbole. Molly was ready to race.
19 July 2014, Meeting Herculis, Monaco
It is four in the morning as I write this…
Molly Huddle was here for one reason, setting the American record once again, and putting it out of reach for awhile. During most of the race, she had the company of Shannon Rowbury who followed her every move, as she had in Sacramento. In Sacramento, Shannon Rowbury took the lead with 250 meters to go, and Molly Huddle had to dig very deep, with a gut wrenching lunge over the last twenty meters, finally taking the title at the tape.
Molly Huddle is a, well, worrier. She and her training mates would discuss the worst scenarios possible during the race, and as you have much time on the mileage that Molly does with, among others, Amy Hastings, you can see where this one went.
“The early pace went fine. I felt good with the fast first mile” Molly told us after the race.
The one kilometer was hit in 2:56.23, with Tamara Tverdostup of the Ukraine doing the pacing honors. Irene Jelegat then took over, leading through two kilometers in 5:52.53 and the 3,000 meters in 8:46.37.
Molly was at 8:49, and Shannon Rowbury was sticking to her like glue. ” I knew Shannon had run a fine 1,500 last week, so I knew she was fit. The 3,000 mark was fast and I expected it. I did not know how Shannon would do in this pace.”
As Betsy Saina and Sally Kipyego went ahead, Molly struggled not to go with them. What if she slowed down, and Shannon sprinted by her? This race had become a fused event: going from chasing a fast, fast time, to chasing a fast time and making sure that you are the top American.
The 5,000 meters is a stirring event. It stirs up a bit in one’s physiology too. If one is a distance runner, one may just hammer away for four kilometers, hope to god that you have dropped the kickers, or, at least neutralized the kickers enough that your semblance of a kick keeps you in the battle.
In the 5,000 meters, if you are a miler, then 12 1/2 laps is a long trip into the nether world. You hope and pray that, after 11 1/2 laps you have something resembling your kick ready to go by a hapless, kickless distance runner.
Alas, in this day and age, that does not happen like that.
The leaders, with Genzebe Dibaba and Almaz Ayana in control, hit the 4,000 meter mark in 11:42.48, with Molly Huddle and Shannon Rowbury at 11:52.
Molly Huddle looked strong, and so did Shannon Rowbury. Shannon has this poker player face: no emotion, just reserved energy. When Shannon kicks, it is surgical, boom, and the knife pierces deep and clean, the race, for most of her competitors, is over!
Molly Huddle began her wind up with 400 meters to go. Shannon Rowbury moved up on her shoulder.
We wondered when the move would come.
But, in this race, it would not!
With 300 meters to go, Molly Huddle took off and put six seconds on Shannon Rowbury.
As Huddle charged down the final straight, Dibaba was just finished, holding off Almaz Ayana, 14:28.88 to 14:29.19. Viola Kibiwot was third in 14:33.73. In fourth, Sally Kipyego ran 14:37.18, continuing her fine return to fitness. Betsy Saina ran 14:39.49, a personal best in fifth. Molly Huddle would finish sixth.
And, Molly fought hard.
She fought hard not to give in.
This tiny bit of time, this several tenths of a second, this tiny part of the race would showcase her work for the past nine or ten months. Huddle took a glance back, over her shoulder, just before the finish and made it to the finish, with her last bit of energy.
At first, we were not sure if she had the record.
I thought that Molly had run 14:42, but could not tell. But, it took the live timing a bit of time ( a minute to refresh) to come up with her time.
And, then, it came!
Molly Huddle was rewarded with a new AR in 14:42.64!
Shannon Rowbury ran a pb, two places back from Molly in 14:48.58!
Two American women under 14:50!
An hour later, as we shared a taxi home, Molly confided that she knows she can run faster. ” I started thinking of 14:30 races in the future.” Molly smiled.
But, as Molly Huddle grabbed her backpack and headed out of the taxi, she noted how much that she liked the 10,000 meters and would like to focus on that for a bit. She also smiled when asked about the rumored big offer for Molly Huddle to race a marathon.
This writer suggested that perhaps, she has faster 5,000 meters and 10,000 meter races, and she could run a marathon another year.
Molly Huddle smiled. That smile she does with her eyes, when she is not telling you a thing. But, you know that Molly is always thinking-what does she do next.
A half hour later, I spoke with Steve Cram, the BBC announcer and a man who knows a bit about racing middle distances, that Molly had broken the AR in the 5,000 meters, and did not get a picture with the time clock, as she had missed in Brussels in 2010.
Molly Huddle told me, earlier in the evening, that she has not had a shot with the Omega clocks showing her record in either 5,000m AR. She really wants one, it seems. I hope that my friends at OMEGA will find a way to get Molly Huddle her dream.
In the end, Molly Huddle had made her dream a reality. She had broken her AR, she had taken on all American comers and proven that she is tough as nails. Molly Huddle had taken almost two seconds off a 5,000 meter record: that has to be recognized as tough.
Tough as Molly Huddle.
Within minutes, her sponsor, Saucony, had tweeted our her AR, and posted a fun picture of her, announcing the new AR at 5,000 meters:
— Saucony (@saucony) July 18, 2014
But, she knows, she can run faster.
And next time, perhaps after her next AR, we hope the kind team at OMEGA gets her a picture with the AR time on an Omega clock!
Women’s 5000 meters, Monaco, 1. Genzebe Dibaba, ETH, 14:28.88 WL, 2. Almaz Ayana, ETH, 14:29.19, SB, 3. Viola Jelegat Kibiwot, KEN, 14:33.73, SB, 4. Sally Kipyego, KEN, 14:37.38, 5. Betsy Saina, KEN, 14:39.49, PB, 6. Molly Huddle, USA, 14:42.64, AR, 7. Mercy Cherono, KEN, 14:44.56, 9. Lisa Kinet, KEN, 14:59.83, 10. Sifan Hassan, NED, 15:08.05, 11.Mimi Belete, BRN, 15:11.60 PB, 12.Clemence Calvin, FRA, 15:12.83, 13. Kim Conley, USA, 15:37.09