It was June 2012 when TrackField97.com had first featured Canadian middle-distance elite Hilary Stellingwerff. She had already secured the 1500m standard for London and was making final preparations for the Canadian nationals where she had to hold onto her final Team Canada selection for Olympic Summer Games.
Shortly after the London 2012 Olympics, we had the opportunity to feature Stellingwerff once again at which point she shared her London Olympic Summer Games experience with us. While she was still having mixed emotions about her Olympic debut as she narrowly missed out on making the women’s Olympic 1500m final by 0.1 seconds, she was very optimistic about her performance and what was to come in the future.
With the Olympic buzz still in the air, our Olympian had the opportunity to compete in 3 Diamond League races; (Lausanne, Birmingham and Zurich), running an 800m personal best of 2:01.22 in Lausanne. In Birmingham she placed 3rd in the 1500m final (4:11.94) in a tactical race and mixed it up with the best in the world in another 1500m race at the Diamond League final in Zurich (4:10.59).
Going into her Diamond League appearances, Stellingwerff was focused on hitting that personal best in the 1500m but at her last attempt to accomplish this in Zurich, she ended up in more of a tactical race due poor weather conditions and this became her final race for the track season.
After a short break from a very intense season of training, competing and traveling, Hilary Stellingwerff was back in training in November 2012 with the cross country team at Geulph (winners of both the men and women’s Canadian University Championships) and she speaks of her experience: “It was great to train with the group and reminded my body what hard work felt like after a good break from that type of training.
Being back in full training, meant getting in the sessions which will prepare her to take on the 2013 indoor and outdoor season: I’m now back hitting between 60-70 miles/ week with 3 running works (tempo, fartlek or long repeats on the trails) and weights/plyometrics twice a week. We’re tweaking my weights and plyos program to phase in some weeks where the focus is on the speed and strength side of things and some weeks where we pull back in the weight room or with plyos and emphasize harder running workouts”.
On January 12th, it was competition time once again as she opened up her 2013 campaign in Seattle: “Since we don’t have an indoor track in Victoria, I wanted to use this first race as a high quality workout so I doubled for the first time probably since university”. The race turned out to be more of a tactical race and she ran 2:08.11 in the 800m and followed that performance up a few hours later with a new personal best time of 9:05.76 in the 3km race; (cutting 4 seconds off of her previous time set back in 2009).
A few weeks later in yet another tactical race, Stellingwerff placed 4th in the mile at the New Balance Boston Grand Prix: “It felt a bit foreign at this time of the year when I’m not as sharp as outdoors. Although I would have liked to finish higher up in the mix, I was just 0.5 out of the win. It was still a fun race to run, it’s always a great crowd and overall meet. One of the reasons I run indoors is because I love competing, it’s what keeps me motivated, so it’s nice to jump in a few races to mix it up with some of the best out there before the outdoor season.
Days later, she was set to mix things up with some of the world’s best in the women’s Wannamaker Mile at the 2013 historic Millrose Games at the Armory in New York: “Since I don’t race a lot indoors, my goal here was simply to run fast and test my fitness to get ready for the outdoors season. As predicted, no one went with the pacemaker for the first lap so I got to the front and took on the race. Having just run a 3km personal best a few weeks prior, I knew I was strong and hoped that even if I led I’d be strong enough to kick in the end. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have it and ended up 6th overall. Thus, even with a PB, I was disappointed with the results, but I’m still content that I put myself out there and tested my fitness – I’m confident when the important races come this summer, I’ll be ready to step it up as I did last year”.
The women’s Wannamaker Mile at the Millrose produced some outstanding performances by just about the entire field including fellow Canadian sensation Sheila Reid, who won the race in a very impressive time of 4:27.02. In second place was the 16 year old American pheonom Mary Cain with a remarkable time of 4:28.25; setting a new American junior record.
Already this season Stellingwerff got to mix things up with Mary Cain she shared her thoughts on the young American talent: “Mary Cain has proven she has phenomenal talent, but more importantly she’s a gutsy racer who’s not afraid to take risks, which will serve her well as she moves into international competition. I think she is smart to choose an experienced coach like Salazar who knows how to take young athletes to the next level. I’ve seen too many young girls burn out before they reach the senior level and I think a good coach can have a major impact. Of course, the sport is full of ups and downs and it will be important for her to keep a positive, long-term outlook even when things don’t go well”.
After training and competing internationally on numerous occasions over the years, we asked Hilary to compare the development of female middle distance running in Canada: “I definitely think we’re moving in the right direction in terms of middle distance. We had two women break 2-mins in the 800m last year, and five more under 2:02.
In the 1500m we have similar depth with four women under the Olympic B (4:08) last year. We have good talent, but it’s also about getting the right racing opportunities in some of the bigger European races, which can be tough to get into, but that’s where you run fast times and gain a huge amount of competitive experience. That’s where having a good manager and running well when it counts can make a huge difference”.
At the end of March, Hilary will be heading to Flagstaff, Arizona to train at altitude leading into the outdoor season: “I’ll do another altitude stint in St. Moritz, Switzerland in July provided all goes as planned leading into World Championships this August”.
Keep on checking out TrackField97.com for more on Hilary Stellingwwerff’s 2013 progression as she takes on what is shaping up to be yet another very competitive year for women’s middle distance running in Canada and around the world.
Web site: http://www.runhilaryrun.ca/
Previous TF97 Hilary Stellingwerff features: http://www.trackfield97.com//?s=Hilary+Stellingwerff
Feature by Stewart Davis for TrackField97.com