4 Minutes with a Miler: Shannon Rowbury
Bring Back the Mile’s podcast series, 4 Minutes with a Miler, speaks to U.S. Olympian and #2 Miler on the U.S. list with a 4:20.34, Shannon Rowbury. Shannon, a Bay Area native and Duke University grad was a founding member of the Bay Area Track Club and is coached by John Cook. The interview is hosted by Duncan Larkin with the audio available below and through the iTunes store, in addition to the complete transcript below.
Hello Mile Maniacs, this is Duncan Larkin with Bring Back the Mile’s latest installment of 4 Minutes with a Miler. Today, we are joined by world bronze medalist in the metric Mile, Shannon Rowbury. Shannon, it’s so great having you join us. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us.
Shannon Rowbury: Yeah, thanks for talking to me.
So the first question for you, Shannon, is what did your recent win in the 1500m at the Occidental High Performance meet reveal to you?
I was really excited with how Occidental turned out. I spent most of the fall, winter, and early spring doing strength work. I spent three months at altitude. I started a 5K at Payton [Jordan Cardinal Invitational], but only made it through 4K. I think I was a little ambitious early on. That was a pretty disappointing performance for me. I think I was excited to get started on 1500m training. I really wanted to go into Occidental to work on tactics. I have the [Olympic] standard going into Occidental, so it was a good chance for me to see how well I could kick and see how well I could respond to the athletes and whatever they could throw at me. I was really happy with my performance there. I was happy to finish.
Besides being a successful Miler, you are also a successful Irish dancer, so I have to ask you: Have you ever incorporated any Irish dancing moves during a race or during a victory jig?
Had you watched me do my one steeplechase performance that I did in college, you would probably see my Irish dancing there. I think I probably cleared the hurdles by a good foot for two and was pointing my toes during the entire leap over them, so not intentionally, but I think I have.
What was your last Mile—not metric mile, but an actual Mile? Do you know?
Yeah, the last time I got to run a mile was in 2008 in Rieti, Italy. They put on a Mile race at the end of the season after the Olympics. It was fun; it was great for me being a strength-oriented 1500m runner. Every extra meter counts in a good way. It’s kind of hard to believe it was four years ago, but that was the last time I ran a track Mile. [Editor’s note: Shannon’s time was an impressive 4:20.34, #2 all-time U.S. woman for the Mile]
You have a fantastic website. When doing research for this, I found that you allude in the acknowledgements section to Jim Moriarty. He helped you put it together. I’m really curious…apparently you met him on a four-hour flight?
[She laughs.] Yeah, one of the great things about travel is that you never know who you are going to sit next to. Sometimes that can be a drawback, but on this one particular flight from Outdoor Nationals in Indianapolis. He and I were sitting next to each other on a flight to Denver. He and I sat next to each other the entire time. When the flight was over, we exchanged email addresses and said we’d stay in touch. He said, “If you make it to the Olympics, I’m going to come.” I was like, “OK, sure.” A couple years later, he was in Beijing and we remain friends to this day.
Wow, that’s incredible. So is he like a web designer?
No, he is just a really kind and generous person. He is really supportive of high-achieving people, particularly athletes, and leading up to the Olympics, he donated money and got a web designer for me. He worked with me and my parents to set up a website. [Editor’s note: www.shannonrowbury.com]
That’s a great story. You are a founding member of the Bay Area Track Club. Tell us what the Bay Area Track Club means to you. Being a founding member, what’s that mean?
It’s really special to me to have been able to help start something, especially something in the Bay Area with such an accomplished group of athletes. The Bay Area is my home. My family is here. I was born and raised here, and it’s always been my dream to always be able to live my life here and give back to the community. The Bay Area Track Club was something that the founders and myself felt was kind of an important thing, as a progression of our own lives and our own training. We wanted to be able to help connect the elite athletes within the Bay Area and also to give back to the community, so we’ve started a bunch of youth programs. We get together for runs. It’s really about building a community of runners in a place like the Bay Area which as so many great things to offer, making sure we are sharing them with each other.
That’s great. Well, unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for today’s latest edition of 4 Minutes with a Miler. Shannon, thank you so much for being on the program with us - good luck to you in the upcoming Trials.
Thanks so much. Good luck to you.