Webb returns for Drake mile

Updated: April 15, 2009, 2:29 PM ET
Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa -- American distance star Alan Webb tried to be "Superman" in 2008 -- and it likely cost him a trip to Beijing.

Webb ran the fastest mile and 1,500 meters times in the world in 2007 and entered last season as the runner everyone figured they'd be looking up at heading into the 1,500 meter race at the U.S. Olympic Trials. But Webb pushed himself too hard in winter and spring training, and by the time the Trials came around in July he wasn't anywhere close to peaking.

Webb, the 2004 Trials champion in that race, finished fifth at 3:41.62 and missed out on a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

"It was not the most fun year I've ever had in my career. I didn't really ever get into the groove of competing," Webb, now 26, said about last season. "I tried to push the envelope in training and every aspect and I sort of ended up getting nothing out of it."

Webb said he's since had to "hit the reset button" both mentally and physically after such a disappointing season. He's hoping to start all over again in 2009, which he announced Tuesday will include a return trip to next week's Drake Relays.

If ever there's a meet that can stir up good memories for Webb, it's Drake.

Webb's mile run in Des Moines two years ago is one of the most memorable moments ever at the meet, which turns 100 next week. Against the backdrop of a sun-splashed sky and nearly 15,000 cheering fans, Webb crushed Steve Scott's meet record by nearly five seconds, finishing in 3:51.71.

"It was definitely a special day. I don't know, the crowd, just everything kind of came together at the right moment," Webb said. "I was feeding off the crowd and they were sort of getting excited."

Drake would prove to be the first of many strong performances for Webb in 2007, his milestone season to date. He ran a personal-best of 3:30.54 in the 1,500 in Paris that July, and two weeks later broke the American record in the mile -- also held by Scott -- by running a 3:46.91 at the Atletiek Vlaanderenmeet in Brasschaa, Belgium.

"I used Drake as sort of a springboard to the rest of my summer and it went great," Webb said.

Webb has struggled with an Achilles tendon issue during the indoor season, but he said Tuesday the problem is nothing major. He won't promise he'll try to snap his Drake Relays record next week, saying only that he's focused on running strong.

"I'm trying to keep things on an even keel, mostly because I've been too up-and-down in the way I've competed and raced," Webb said. "But I'm excited. Things are going well."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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