Big city excitement builds for Amy Hastings

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

NEW YORK -- American Olympian Amy Hastings is still riding the Olympic wave, some three months after the cauldron was extinguished in London. The 28-year-old is focused on Sunday's ING New York City Marathon, a race she considers to be just as exciting and grand as the Olympic Games, where she finished 11th in the 10,000 meters.

"It's that same excitement you get," Hastings told Race Results Weekly on Wednesday. "The energy is very similar. The city has an energy all of its own. With the marathon especially, it's just a feeling that I can't really describe."

Hastings will be making her ING New York City Marathon debut and first start in a World Marathon Majors event Sunday as she toes the starting line on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, something she's looked forward to since her collegiate days at Arizona State.

"I realized pretty early on that the longer the run, the better I was at it. It just came easier to me," Hastings said. "When I was in college running the 10,000m, I said I'd be a marathoner. It's something that I've just always wanted to do."

Coming off her Olympic experience on the track, Hastings compared how the marathon distance is unique and special to her, how the adrenaline and anticipation builds in a different form than that one gets when racing on the oval.

"For the track, it really is every four years when it's important," she said. "But for the marathon it's different. Yes, you have the Olympics every four years. But you also have these majors that are huge every year. It's really cool to be a marathoner because you get this excitement with every race."

If there's one thing Hastings learned from her Olympic experience, it was to channel that excitement and use it as fuel to take risks mid-race. Part-way through the Olympic 10,000, Hastings had a tough choice to make: go with the leaders as they picked up the pace, or settle in. She risked it all, kept pushing and wound up with a personal best of 31:10.69. The mental fortitude helps Hastings keep striving for more.

"I am going to keep pushing and something good will come out of it," she said.

Though Hastings is still relatively new to the marathon distance, she has had some help in preparation from New Zealand's Kim Smith, a veteran of three ING New York City Marathon starts. Both have been training together in Providence, R.I., and come from the same mold -- successful both on the track and the roads.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't have her to train with. She knows what she's doing," said Hastings.

When both take off from the start, though, don't expect the workout partners to be side by side. "Kim has the ability to go out really fast and then recover during the race and finish strong. I am someone who can really ruin my race within the first few miles if I'm not smart. It really depends on how the race plays out. It may very well be that she goes early and I wait a bit longer."

No matter the strategy, Hastings is confident with the training she has done, and is eager to continue her marathon career, possibly to the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She finished fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon last January in Houston, and missed making her Olympic Marathon team by one spot.

"At this point, I would say I really do believe the marathon will be my best event," she said. "I think I have a lot of room for improvement there. Hopefully, in four years, I'll be doing the marathon and will be up there at the end of the race."