By Joshua Papanikolaou
Welcome to Runner’s Tribe Shawn and congratulations on your selection for the World Championships in the marathon.
Firstly, did you know it was a possibility that you could have been picked?
My coach, Nic Bideau, told me that I should fill out a nomination online, so I did.
You must be very happy to get this opportunity, how is the fitness at the moment, have you raced recently?
I am building my strength at the moment; it is the beginning of summer here in North Carolina and we get these hot and humid days so it’s perfect for training.
While I am excited to go and compete it is not JUST about making the team. I have made teams in the past; I competed for Australia in Japan in 2008 and ran at the world juniors in Jamaica. I made the world half marathon team this past fall but was unable to go. I actually made the World Cross Country Senior Team for Switzerland as a junior but they didn’t send a team. At Arkansas in my senior year, I ran a B standard 27:52 for the World Championships and was just off the A standard by three seconds but they only sent one person. So when people say, “aren’t you excited?” Well, yes I am but I treat each race the same in my preparation and mentality.
You had a pretty successful college career. Do you run full-time now?
I was fortunate to be able to do well in college and then run professionally for Nike. A lot of people would be happy with that, and running the times I have, 61:25 half marathon and a 2:14 marathon, but I’m not. I’m just getting started.
Where do you live? Do you miss home?
I live in Greensboro North Carolina with my wife. We live next to a lake that has good trails for training. Melbourne is my home, and it is my favorite place to run. When my wife and I got married, there is a lot of paperwork involved in the US and it takes a few years to get it sorted. You have to be here for interviews and fingerprinting and bio stuff. It’s full on. Travel budget is also something you have to consider when racing as well.
Do you train with a group? Who is your coach?
Nic is my coach, and has been since college. I have gotten better each year, which not everyone can say professionally so I’m fortunate. We talk over email about workouts and it works. I train alone and it suits me being a marathoner. I think most marathoners would say that. Londa, my wife, rides her bike on Saturday long runs, and that helps me get used to hydrating. Training alone makes me mentally tough. It helped in Houston when I got separated from the pack; I didn’t panic.
After some very promising half marathons in 2011 you ran 2:14 at Houston last year. What did you take from that race going forward as a marathoner?
When I missed the Olympic team in London by one spot for the marathon it was as if someone had died. I was devastated, but I had to turn it around at some point and make it a positive. I have great people in my life. Last year showed me how much I appreciate the support of my wife, my family, and my friends. So many people emailed me from home and were encouraging, like Adrian McGregor, my first training buddy when I was sixteen, and John Murray my first coach. The one thing I took from that race is experience. Look at guys like Meb Keflezighi, he didn’t win NYC in his first try. The marathon takes time to learn. I’ve completed one and I will improve.
What are your goals as a runner? Do you have a time for the marathon you would like to achieve?
Always been the same, to reach my potential in the marathon.
What is the plan leading into Moscow, have you got some races lined up?
I will talk to my coach and we will decide the best plan going forward.