S. Houlihan & M. Hall

by Jeff Hollobaugh

Bowerman TC Pair Climb All-Time List

Shelby Houlihan & Marielle Hall are thriving under the tutelage of Jerry Schumacher

For Shelby Houlihan, Jerry Schumacher used the perfect approach when he talked with her about joining the Nikesponsored group he runs, the Bowerman Track Club.

“Talking to Jerry,” she recounts, “the selling point was, ‘We are going to find out what potential you have and we are going to squeeze every drop out of you that we can.’

“Once he said that I was like, ‘Alright, this is where I want to go.’ We are definitely doing that.”

Houlihan
Houlihan has taken some 25 seconds off her indoor PR in the 3000 this winter… – MIKE SCOTT/PHOTO

That was back in ’15, and the Arizona State alum’s results since then have lived up to that billing. Most recently, she and clubmate Marielle Hall crushed their 3000 PRs in an attempt to get World Indoor qualifying marks prior to the USATF meet. As a result, they moved to Nos. 2 & 4 on the all-time U.S. indoor list (see sidebar).

Comparatively speaking, Houlihan is the veteran in Schumacher’s program, having been with it for 2½ years. Hall, at 26 a year older than Houlihan, just joined last fall.

Houlihan showed promise in her college career as a Sun Devil, winning the NCAA 1500 in ’14, as well as 5 Pac-12 crowns. Her bests at graduation—with high marks in the finishing-kick department—were 2:01.12, 4:09.67, 9:03.71 & 15:49.72.

She moved to Portland the October after wrapping up in Tempe and the next year saw solid improvement. A 4:03.39 came at the Pre Classic. She placed 2nd in the Trials 5000 with a PR 15:06.14. In Rio, she ran close to her best, landing 11th at 15:08.89.

“Coming out of college I just wanted to go somewhere where I was going to be pushed and have people that I could train with on a daily basis,” she explains. “If I would have stayed training by myself—I guess it’s just easier to do all the right things when other people are doing them as well. I wanted to run in that kind of environment. And it’s been everything I hoped for and more.”

Last year she won a mile/3000 double at USATF Indoor, then captured the 5K outdoors. Though she got a PR 15:00.37 in the heats at the World Championships, she ended up 13th in the final.

“The Worlds didn’t go as well as I wanted it to,” she says. “I felt really good. I just kind of made technical errors that cost me.”

Just before Halloween, Hall joined the training group. The Philly native was a 7-time Big 12 champ for Texas, for whom she won the ’14 NCAA 5000.

Graduating with PRs of 4:17.10, 8:54.48 & 15:12.79, Hall moved back home and trained with Derek Thompson, mentor of Ajee’ Wilson.

The next season she hit a PR 15:06.45 to make the U.S. team for the Beijing Worlds, but once there, she didn’t get out of the heats.

In the Olympic year, Hall moved up in distance, running her first 10,000 in 31:37.45. She finished 3rd at the Trials, but in Rio she was again disappointed, crossing the line 33rd.

Last season, though, she PRed in the 1500 (4:12.14) she only managed 5th at the USATF 5000.

Hall admits the transition to the Portland group (which has styled itself as “The Bowerman Babes”) has been challenging. “It’s definitely been tough. It’s hard to kind of grade yourself when you’re in the moment because there’s a lot of good athletes on this team. I’m still definitely having my up-and-down moments and just getting used to training and the structure of things.”

Hall
… Hall has taken almost 15 seconds off hers – MIKE SCOTT/PHOTO

One change for her is that the Bowerman group trains at altitude in Colorado Springs in January for a month. After the race in Boston, they went to Albuquerque for the two weeks preceding the USATF Indoor (see p. 6), where Houlihan repeated her national indoor double-title win.

“The training camp environment really allows you to focus in on your training,” she says. “It’s been a great experience overall.”

As for what she’s looking for this year, she says, “Since I moved out to Portland most of my goals are kind of training-based. Mostly just taking it day-by-day and being able to be evaluative and understand the different phases of the year so that I’m able to go into the next few World Championship and Olympic years with a really strong purpose.”

With both Houlihan and Hall focusing on the 3000 this indoor season, they’ve found themselves together a lot.

Says Houlihan, “I love Marielle. She’s very quiet but at the same time really, really funny. I think the more comfortable she’s getting with us, the more her personality is coming out.”

Hall says of Houlihan, “She’s a really fun, easygoing person. She’s pretty candid about the things that she wants and what she’s going after on the day. When it’s time to practice and train she’s tuned in to what she wants to accomplish.

“I definitely respect that. I’ve just been trying to keep my nose down and follow along as best I can.”

At the Albuquerque camp Hall often finds herself reading in her free time. Houlihan confesses that she’s on a videogaming kick: “Right now, I’m playing a little bit of Call Of Duty.”

Explains Hall, “In the downtime you have to learn how to turn off the training and just relax. You need to shut down and not have your brain always operating about running, because it would exhaust the competitive fire.”

Both of them sound remarkably similar in their ’18 goals. With no global outdoor championship on tap, they plan to hone the skills that they will need the next time they line up against the planet’s best. That means racing experience is what the coach ordered.

Houlihan isn’t planning any move into the 10K, but she laughs and says, “Knowing Jerry, I’m probably going to end up in one at some point.”

What she’s excited about are the shorter distances: “I really want to break 2:00 in the 800 and 4:00 in the 15. I felt like I could’ve done that last year and I just didn’t get the opportunity.

“After Worlds I was just really, really tired mentally and physically. I wasn’t able to race as well as I’d hoped to. I’m hoping this year that I’ll have some more opportunities to go for those.”

Says Hall, “Outdoors, I’m just looking for more race scenario opportunities, doing things that I’m more uncomfortable with. Getting used to more sit-and-kick type races.

“I’m definitely looking to challenge myself across distances but also I want to really have open eyes and open ears and learn from all the people around me so I can take the training and take this team environment and make it my own for the next few years.”

For both, the long-term goal is to challenge the world’s best. What will it take to get near future podiums?

Houlihan says patience is the key. “I really think slowly chipping away, workouts getting harder, getting older, maturing as well, all those things I’m hoping will come together at the right moment and I just have to be patient for it.”

The All-Time U.S. Indoor 3000 List
Shelby Houlihan & Marielle Hall moved to Nos. 2 & 4 everamong Americans with their swift run in Boston. The Top 10:
8:33.25 Shalane Flanagan (Nike) 1/27/07
8:36.01 Shelby Houlihan (Bowerman TC) 2/03/18
8:39.14 Regina Jacobs (Mizuno) 3/07/99
8:40.20 Marielle Hall (Bowerman TC) 2/03/18
8:40.31 Jenny Simpson (New Balance) 2/10/18
8:40.45 Lynn Jennings (Nike Int’l) 2/23/90
8:41.16 Emma Coburn (New Balance) 2/03/18
8:41.45 PattiSue Plumer (Nike Int’l) 2/23/90
8:41.60 Karissa Schweizer (Missouri) 2/03/18
8:41.94 Shannon Rowbury (Nike) 1/28/17

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Edward Cheserek breaks through a mile barrier

S. Houlihan & M. Hall

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