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Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Galen Rupp ventures onto the road

By Bonnie D. Ford

Galen Rupp says he doesn't want to get ahead of himself, but when he strides off the start line of the New York City Half Marathon later this month, it'll be hard not to regard it as a sneak preview of his future.

Still just 24, Rupp is a veteran distance runner who had a celebrated prep and collegiate career. He is a two-time U.S. champion in the 10,000-meter event, finished 13th in the 10,000 in the Beijing Olympics, and carved his personal best time down to 27 minutes, 10.74 seconds last year. Last month, he set a new American record (13:11.44) in the indoor 5,000-meters.

The 5,000- and 10,000-meter events will in all probability remain Rupp's focus in his buildup to London 2012. But he has also continued to mix things up by running cross-country events and, last fall,  his first professional road race, a 5K "Turkey Trot" in San Jose, Calif. He and longtime coach Alberto Salazar say the variety suits him, and it stands to reason that Rupp's mental toughness will only be enhanced if he is unfazed by different conditions.

"Sometimes the only way you get better is by going in a little over your head,'' said Rupp, who trains with Salazar's Nike-sponsored Oregon Project outside Portland.

His last-minute entry in New York doesn't signal any sea change in his emphasis, although it will mean a longer period of rest before he resumes competing on the track this spring. Rupp trained hard for a 10,000-meter outdoor race in New Zealand last month, but the event was canceled after the devastating earthquake centered in Christchurch. That opened up room in Rupp's schedule for a detour out of his "comfort zone" -- as both he and Salazar put it -- into what will be the longest race of his life.

A full marathon is "definitely something I'll do at some point, but I have a long ways to go on the track,'' Rupp told reporters on a conference call Wednesday.

Others in the men's field for the March 20 New York City Half Marathon include three top U.S. marathoners: Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Abdi Abdirahman.