Amanda Eccleston spins Trials heartbreak into a positive
With the indoor season in full swing, we’re getting excited for this weekend’s Millrose Games in New York City. Collegiate, high school and world records already started falling so it’s safe to say that track has returned. We’re kicking things off with Millrose Week and providing an insightful look into one of indoor track’s most historic meets.
It’s safe to say that finishing fourth at the Olympic Trials brings with it a flurry of conflicting emotions. No doubt, It’s a tremendous accomplishment worthy of celebration, but you don’t place fourth without a sincere belief that you could have wound up on the podium. “Bittersweet” doesn’t do justice to the feeling that follows a dive across the finish line — seemingly synchronized with the woman you’re battling for the final spot on the Olympic team — only to realize you got there .03 seconds too late.
But after chatting with Amanda Eccleston ahead of the 2017 Millrose Games, where she’ll toe the line as part of a loaded Wanamaker Mile field, it’s clear she took the potential for discouragement in stride, and spun it into a positive.
“When I look back, I don’t find anything I’m disappointed in from the fourth place finish. It was one of the highlights of my summer. Coming so close just reaffirmed to me that that isn’t a far-off dream; this is a viable career for me.”
Following the Trials, Eccleston continued her season on a sustained high note, lowering her mile personal best to 4:25.64, defending her crown at the Hoka One One Long Island Mile, and finishing a solid fifth at the 5th Avenue Mile, establishing a 4:20.7 road personal best, and beating a few Olympians in the process. Continuing to race past the Trials further validated her stellar year, and confirmed that her performance there was not a flash in the pan.
“Making the Olympic team was very much my focus last year, and this year it’s similar: I want to be on that World Champs team in London.”
The fact that Eccleston has cemented herself as one of America’s elite milers fails to make the NYRR Wanamaker Mile press release, but she’s made her mark flying under the radar, and looks to keep her quiet confidence rolling into 2017.
Training largely out of Ann Arbor with a cadre of former University of Michigan teammates like Shannon Osika, Nicole Sifuentes, and Becca Addison, Eccleston has been slowly building back mileage since her return to training in early November. She’s currently running about 40 miles and cross training for six hours each week.
“There’s not a lot of hype around our group. Maybe we need to come up with a catchy name,” she jokes, “but we’ve all run under 4:10 for the 1,500m, and work really well together.” Having such talented teammates has eased her return to high-level training and racing, and “after a slower start, the last four or five weeks have gone better than could be expected,” she adds.
Eccleston opened up her season with a mid-January rust-busting 4:39 mile on her home track (“for what I’d done up to then, I was really happy with it”), then raced a 3,000m at the Meyo Invite this past weekend and won in 9:03.00.
Eccleston faces her first real test of the year on Saturday night, when she faces the likes of Shannon Rowbury, Kate Grace, and Brenda Martinez, who out-leaned her for a trip to Rio, but feels up to the challenge.
“I’m a miler. It just boils down to that”