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USATF Q&A w/ Deeja Youngquist


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  • USATF Q&A w/ Deeja Youngquist

    Friday, April 2, 2004

    Youngquist looks to make Olympic Team

    ST. LOUIS ˆ In only the second marathon of her career, Deeja Youngquist will
    try to qualify for the 2004 USA Olympic Team Saturday at the U.S. Olympic
    Women‚s Marathon Trials in St. Louis.

    Sunny skies and temperatures near 40 degrees will greet the 124 competitors
    when the race begins Saturday at 7 a.m., Central Time. The top three
    finishers will represent the U.S. at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens,
    Greece in August. Temperatures are expected to reach the lower 50s when the
    top placers hit the finish line.

    Youngquist, 27, of Albuquerque, N.M., enters as one of the favorites to make
    the Team USA roster. Youngquist made a statement with her initial foray into
    marathoning with her 10th place finish at the 2003 Chicago Marathon in 2
    hours, 29 minutes, 1 second, the third fastest qualifying mark in the field
    and the third fastest marathon debut in history by an American woman.

    Coached by her boyfriend and fellow elite runner Teddy Mitchell, who
    competed in the 2004 Olympic Men‚s Marathon Trials in February, Youngquist
    was a 10,000 meter specialist before being convinced by Mitchell and others
    to give the marathon a try.

    A former standout at the University of Washington, where she finished third
    at the Pac-10 Championships each year from 1996-1998, Youngquist is an air
    traffic controller by trade, who recently took a less stressful position
    with the Federal Aviation Administration.

    Youngquist answered questions following a press conference Friday morning in
    St. Louis:

    Q: Why did you try the marathon last year?

    A: My coach thought I was a marathoner from the start, and all my coaches
    said Œyou‚ll be great when you‚re older, you‚ll be a marathoner.‚ I don‚t
    have any speed on the track, I just suck it up. I tried the Chicago Marathon
    and it felt fine to me, so I‚m going to continue with the marathon as my
    best race.

    Q: What was your goal when you entered the 2003 Chicago Marathon?

    A: I was shooting for a 1:14:30 for the first half, and I was hoping to
    carry that pace through, or maybe even faster would be great and I was only
    like three seconds away from that, so I ran even. I feel like a robot, I
    just do what my coach (Teddy Mitchell) says.

    Q: What have you been working on lately in training?

    A: I‚ve mostly been working on my strength, tempo runs, lots of miles and
    not as much intensity as I did for Chicago, which makes me a little tired. I
    did go up to altitude of 10,000 feet for a week in Mexico and then down to
    sea level for three weeks. So that, I think, is going to help me going into
    this race.

    Q: What is your strategy on Saturday?

    A: I think I‚m going to see what everybody else is doing and adjust, but if
    it goes out slow I‚m going to just stay up with them, but it gets to the
    last six miles I don‚t have speed, so I‚m not waiting that long. I‚ll
    probably go if nobody else does at about halfway or around there.

    Q: What would it mean to you to make the Olympic Team in only the second
    marathon of your career?

    A: That would mean everything to me. That would mean so much and it would be
    great. I‚m shooting maybe for a PR or maybe top five. This is new to me, but
    I‚m going to shoot for the third spot.

    Q: How are your nerves right now?

    A: Actually, pretty good. My coach is more nervous than me, and he‚s
    starting to bug me actually (laughter). He just better calm down. I did the
    preparation and I feel confident.

    Q: What was it like to be an air traffic controller?

    A: I was doing that before and that‚s when I started running in Albuquerque
    for stress relief, and I continued running. I switched out of that right
    when I figured out that I could win races, and it was just too stressful and
    taxing. You train for about four years straight and I was still in the
    training process, but it was stressful. Now I just do all the odd jobs
    around the building. Now I‚m the „less stress job girl‰ (laughter). Everyone
    there is really great and really supportive.

    For more information on the 2004 Olympic Women‚s Marathon Trials, visit