By Wendy Shulik for RRCA
RRCA: A lot has happened in a week since your epic finish a the USATF Marathon Championship hosted by the California International Marathon! How’s your recovery going?
Hayley Sutter (HS): Not too bad. I haven’t run yet, but I’ll probably start going on short runs later this week. I’m enjoying some time off.
RRCA: In the past week, what has the response been to the video of your finish line fall going viral?
HS: It’s been pretty overwhelming. A lot of people, like friends and family, people that I know directly and intimately have been reaching out; but then also just tons of people who I don't know and will likely will never meet have reached out in support. It’s been really nice. The first couple days were a little overwhelming, and now it’s slowed down to a trickle, which in some ways is kind of appreciated to get my head out of the clouds. It’s been an overwhelmingly positive response from people.
RRCA: What is the status of USATF’s decision regarding accepting your time as an Olympic Trials Qualifying (OTQ) time for the marathon?
HS: They got back to me and said that they are reviewing it. I guess that there are some other stuff they are reviewing as well; like the girl who finished ahead of me. I think she is also petitioning her results. My understanding is it is USATF's goal is to get back to people by the end of this month.
RRCA: There’s been a lot of chatter about whether they’re going to go by chip time or gun time. What’s your thought about that? What do you know?
HS: My boyfriend actually did a little research. He said that he found two women who were in a somewhat similar situation last year at CIM, who finished a couple of seconds slower, maybe like 2:45:02, 2:45:04, by gun time, but were under 2:45:00 by chip time. They were also part of the seeded field, and they were accepted by USATF. I’m pretty hopeful with being in the seeded crowd and not the elite field. Hopefully that will help. (RRCA note - Sutter's gun time was 2:45:07).
RRCA: In the off chance that USATF does not accept it, what’s your goal B race?
HS: I haven’t thought about that yet, to be honest. I’ve only thought the time being accepted for now. When the time comes, I will talk with my coach,Ann Ringlein, and get her opinion about another race to target, all things considered.
HS: If I am accepted, I would run my home-town marathon, the Lincoln Marathon, hosted by the Lincoln Track Club, in Lincoln, Nebraska, the first Sunday of May. So I have plenty of time to recover. The goal, of course, would be to try and run a bit faster. Lincoln, certainly has more elevation gain than CIM, and is not known as an exceptionally fast course, but it would be fun to try to get after it again.
RRCA: What’s the competition usually like in Lincoln?
HS: It’s definitely a smaller race—the half marathon is much more competitive. I think last year the winner of the marathon ran 2:48; the year before that was 2:45. So it’s usually between in the 2:40’s, 2:50’s for the winning time.
RRCA: Oh wow, so there’s a chance you could win the thing!
HS: Perhaps, yeah, that’s what kind of the thought. It would be fun. A Lincolnite hasn’t won the race for years—we’ve had male Lincolnites, but not females. So it would be fun to compete for the win and not have to worry about the time but more about competing in it.
RRCA: I’m really glad that your finish at CIM has been a positive experience for you, and that’s there’s a good chance for you to get in to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials - Marathon. Do you have any advice on what you would tell other women trying to qualify for the Trials who might be in your situation?
HS: I originally tried to qualify at Grandma’s Marathon this year, and just went into the race uncharacteristically nervous. I kind of lacked the self confidence, and in turn, ended up having a really bad race; from the beginning. However, I think the thing that has really helped me, and enabled me to get back into it coming into CIM, including the post-CIM “fall and crawl,” is just staying really positive.
I remember I had an interview once, and they asked me, “What would your two to five word slogan or personal motto be?” I didn’t really have to think very long, “Relentlessly positive.” That’s just part of my personality, which is to always see the good in stuff. There are events where I could been in tears and crying, you know - devastated with myself, but instead, I've found humor in my situations almost right away.
After the medical people at CIM walked me around for five or ten minutes, I was finally released to be reunited with my dad and boyfriend. I was finally able to go and get a finisher medal, and there was a race photographer there. I was holding my medal and was finally coherent again. I remember looking at him and saying, “Oh, will you get a picture of my full body and my knees?” As soon as I was coherent, I was already finding the humor in my finish.
I honestly think, the biggest thing is staying relentlessly positive. In training and racing, things will go poorly, and things won’t go the way that you want. If you fall in to that negative mindset, you’re going to continually spiral down. My best advice I can give to
the women and men who are also trying, not necessarily to get the OTQ, but to reach any running related goal, is just be relentlessly positive. It's okay to pay attention to those bad things, but just don’t wallow in it.