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McMahan Seeks Repeat at USA 25 km Championships

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/RoadRacing   on May 7 2014, 10:39 PM

Hansons-Brooks Runner Ready for a Big Season 

By Scott Bush

Hansons-Brooks standout Dot McMahan is set to compete in this weekend's USA 25 km Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2013, McMahan summoned up a fierce kick in the stages of the race, pulling away from Mattie Suver for a two second victory. Eyeing a repeat this weekend, we caught up with McMahan, chatting about her current fitness, what makes the USA 25 km Championships (Fifth Third River Bank Run) a special race for her, how having a child impacts her professionally and much more.

Scott Bush (SB): You've had a solid start to your 2014 season. How's training been going for you? How are things in Michigan?

Dot McMahan (DM): It was a snowy, long winter in Michigan. I wasn't asked to travel with the team to Florida this year so I battled out the winter on my own. I've lived in the Midwest my entire life. I understand that running paces are thrown out the window and I have to gage fitness on perceived effort. When the snow and ice melts, workouts get faster. This year's winter just felt really long but otherwise very typical.

SB: You're the defending USA 25 km Champion. Heading into this weekend, knowing some of your competition will be feeding off you, what type of expectations do you have on yourself heading into the race?

DM: I expect to have a large pack of competitors through most of the race. Every one of them wants a US title, including me. 

SB: In addition to last year's win, you've had three other top four finishes at the USA 25 km Championships. What is it about racing in Grand Rapids and in front of your home-state crowd?

DM: There are a couple reasons I love this race so much. Yes, it's a home state race. Easy travel. Friends and family get out there to cheer. Greg Meyer does a great job coordinating the athletes. He's fun to chat with every year. I also love the distance. There's a certain grind after the half marathon split to the finish. I look forward to it. 

SB: You finished top 20 at the IAAF World Outdoor Marathon Championships last fall. What did you take away from that performance?

DM: The heat is very humbling, but not crippling. I made myself a heat runner during last summer's training. I learned to drink twice as much fluid as I could before! Unfortunately the heat still took its toll. I focused on place and less on pace. If you use Jack Daniels’ heat and humidity conversion, I ran very close to a PR. 

Overall, it was a positive experience. Traveling and living with such a diverse group of athletes was enlightening. I liked learning about how other athletes train, eat and sleep. I met new athletes almost everyday at the track or for meals. I roomed with Deena Kastor. We shared motherhood triumphs and woes. Jeanette Faber, the other marathon team member, has been an acquaintance for a few years. Both were supportive and fun teammates. 

SB: You decided to bypass a spring marathon, how come?

DM: I really wanted a chance to defend my US 25k title. I had to choose between a spring marathon or the (Fifth Third) River Bank Run. 

SB: You've been part of the Hansons-Brooks team for quite a while now. What's the best part of being a member of such a strong group?

DM: The group is constantly changing. People come and go. I've been fortunate enough that Melissa Johnson and I have been constant training partners. It's great having someone so closely matched for workouts. Although there is a lot of turnover, everyone joins the program ready to make sacrifices, work hard and dream big. I like being surrounded by that mindset. 

SB: 2014 is an interesting year for many distance runners, with no World or Olympic focus. Will your training or racing goals change at all this season or do they look similar to seasons past?

DM: It's fun to have a year where you can pick some new races, maybe a bucket list race instead of focusing on a qualifying race. There are so many fantastic and unique road races out there! I missed racing last summer because I was training for Worlds. I want to do a variety of distances this summer.

SB: You're a mom and a professional athlete. As we head into Mother's Day weekend, what's it mean to you to be able to share your professional accomplishments with your daughter?

DM: May is a special month. We just celebrated Elizabeth's 5th birthday on May 4th. I do love sharing the road to accomplishments with her. We, my husband is a runner & cyclist as well, focus more on the process of reaching goals through patience and practice and having a healthy lifestyle. We are an active family. 

Elizabeth is involved in our daily grind. She's apart of the second runs, the core work, the strength training, the food choices. She does have her own sport though. She's a gymnast. She's working hard to get to the next level. I love watching her master new skills. 

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