Sharon Lokedi: "I just remember at one point I was like “Why? Why did I sign up for this?”

<span class="caption">Q&A with NYC marathon winner, Sharon Lokedi </span>
Q&A with NYC marathon winner, Sharon Lokedi

Congratulations on your win in the New York marathon! How are you feeling now? Oh absolutely awesome! Obviously I’m really loving the moment, just enjoying every bit of it. It’s been an amazing week. I’m really really, really happy that I'm here. I somehow still can’t really picture it... But it’s been wonderful.

It was your debut marathon, in tough conditions on a difficult course. How much did that hurt? Oh it did hurt a lot - I mean, every point of it! I just remember at one point I was like “Why? Why did I sign up for this??” But then it was also fun. Really fun - the competition was awesome. I was really nervous to start, but every time I got nervous I said, you know, I can be in this. I knew I was ready. So I just wanted to put myself in there with them, and be there, and just enjoy the process.

Presumably that was your first ever run over the full distance too - you didn’t run that in training? No I think my longest run was 40k - and even then people were telling me, those last few kms are something else. So I was like, ok, this is the closest I'll probably get before the race. But that was just a long run, so not the same as racing. The race itself is completely different. I remember getting to the second half in New York, I was like OK, this is the longest race you’ve ever done and now you have to do another 21km!

Did you have aches and pains the next day? Oh I started feeling them the same day! My legs were telling me about it. But honestly it was fun, I had so many people around me, my New York family, my coach. I had that great support and everybody was so excited and all my friends were still there, so I was just enjoying that and not trying to worry about the soreness or anything that would come after.

How did you celebrate? We actually went back to the hotel after and I tried to sleep but my body was like, no luck. Too much adrenaline. So we went for a meal. I’ve actually just been to a wedding this weekend too and I wore heels, and I was like, why did I do that? It’s so hard!

What’s harder, wearing heels or day or running a marathon? I think it’s wearing the heels!! And I only wore them for a short time!

So how long will you have off now, after the race? Maybe two weeks. That’s totally off, no running at all. Then maybe 5k or 10k just every other day. I’m thinking just by the beginning of next month [December] I’ll be fully back training. I mean, not a lot, but just like running every day.

Do you already have a new race in mind? Not yet - for now, it’s just enjoy it! We haven’t really talked about what to do next year, but I want to do another half marathon - I’ve only done a couple. Then perhaps another marathon. There’s also a couple of races I did last year that I really want to go back to. So I’m just trying to figure out which marathon would work, and what I do next.

Your win in New York has definitely catapulted you on to the bigger stage but perhaps people don’t know that much about you. So what do you like to do when you aren’t running? Sleep! When I’m not running that’s what I mostly do! [Laughs] No but I also like to hang out with my family. It’s been great the last few months just being back home [in Kenya] to train, and being able to go over at the weekend and see my family. I also really like to cook. I like making stew - I make lamb stew a lot, I could eat that every single day. And chapatis.

Who is your favourite runner? Oh that’s hard. I would say right now, it’s Hellen [Obiri] We’ve grown so close together. She’s someone I used to see and think wow, she looks really serious. You know, one of those people who you really want to say hi to, but you don’t want to bother them. I was almost afraid of her. Now, I think, why on earth didn’t I talk to her before, she’s awesome! I love how she competes and how she runs. How she approaches life. So it’s been just awesome seeing her, and getting to know her.

Did you have a running role model when you were a kid? When I was growing up it was mostly Tegla Loroupe. She was everywhere when I was growing up - though I was not into running then! But everybody would be talking about Tegla and all these amazing things that she's done. Then of course there’s Eliud Kipchoge. It’s just amazing how consistent he is and how he just continues to be so good. I think when I’m training and running I’d like to be as consistent as I can, so I try to embrace that.

Tell me about the brand new Under Armour shoes you raced in, how were they? You know, I’ve been with Under Armour since 2017 and I feel like they’ve just made so many improvements since then. So the shoes that I raced it were a new version of the Velocity - a little bit lighter, and just awesome. It’s great how the brand really want to help us with building on the shoe and are always asking us what we like, what it feels like, all that stuff. And this new shoe, it’s next level. It felt like we are now running in a shoe that’s so close to what everyone else has been talking about - but even better, because we just won New York with it! So it’s just a really really good shoe now.

You were a great college runner [Lokedi studied at the University of Kansas, finishing 10th in the NCAA Women's Cross Country Championship in 2015 and 10th in 2016] But perhaps not necessarily expected to be someone who won a major. What do you credit for that step up? I think when you are done with college, some people maybe hit a brick wall and say ok, I’m done. But for me, I felt I still had something in me, and I just want to keep learning, keep doing it. So it’s just been years of working hard, just putting the work in and trusting in myself. Trusting in the training. You know, before New York I said to myself, if you are top five, I’m going to be so happy because I knew I was strong, I was fit, I had a really good build up with no injuries or anything. And I’ve been training for so long since college. My results were great but I just knew there was something in me that could do a little better. So I went to work - and I just want to continue working and getting better.

Perhaps the shorter distances you ran at college weren’t your forte - perhaps the marathon is where you are designed to be? Yes, I think so. I think I am home now. It's just taken long time to realise it. But then I think you have to build up to it. I didn’t want to just go straight to it without, you know, getting all the events in. The thing with marathons too is there’s always going to be a race, all year around, it doesn’t matter when. So you’ll always have a race every season.

So having won New York - I know you said that you’ve not fixed your next race yet -but you must have some big dreams. A major champs podium, for instance? I mean, it's the World Championships next year... You never know. But it is so difficult with Kenya - we don't really have trails, so you just have to compete and hope I guess depending on the competition - and in Kenya, everybody is really really good! So I hope to get to this point, but also I’m hoping if I do’t get to next year, maybe I’ll get to the Olympics. But mainly I just want to keep running, keep competing, keep pushing.

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