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Posted: March 1, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Second Place Has Sara Hall Looking Up

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

BOSTON (01-Mar) -- Although she didn't win yesterday's 3000m at the U.S. Indoor Championships here, Sara Hall was upbeat about her runner-up finish to Olympian Amy Begley. It was Hall's first race of the year, and she finally feels that her running is on track after a difficult 2008.

"You know I just feel so blessed to be here," said Hall after running a personal best 8:53.72 and nearly catching Begley in the final sprint for the finish. "It didn't look likely that I was going to get to race this indoor season, so you know, I just came out here excited with nothing to lose, and I wanted to stick my nose in it."

Hall hadn't actually posted a qualifying mark to gain entry for the 3000m, but her manager, Ray Flynn of Flynn Sports Management, petitioned her into the meet. Hall flew to Boston from California without knowing if she would be competing, at least in yesterday's race (she had qualified for today's 1500m).

"I didn't find out I got into the race until yesterday," she said. "I was just planning all along to compete, but if not, just do the '15' tomorrow."

In her biggest race last year, the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500m, Hall only finished 9th, more than ten seconds behind winner Shannon Rowbury. She ran in several low-key meets in Europe last summer, and enjoyed one bright spot of getting her 1500m personal best down to 4:08.55. But because of injury problems, she hasn't raced since last September's Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile in New York.

"I had an Achilles tendon injury which kept me from running for, like, two months in the winter," said Hall. "So I didn't get to do any qualifying races."

Hall has some extra support behind her here this weekend. Husband Ryan flew up from Tampa, Fla., yesterday afternoon after running the Gasparilla Distance Classic 15-K so he could cheer for her. Also from her Mammoth Track Club group, Hall has coach Terrence Mahon and Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor pulling for her.

"It's great," said Hall of having a small entourage here. "We have an amazing support system. Ryan, Ray (Flynn) and Terrence flew up right after Ryan's race in Tampa just to be here. I'm very blessed to have them around. I gained a lot from their presence."

Hall will face her biggest challenge in today's 1500m from Olympic steeplechaser Anna Willard, who has run 4:06.26 for 1500m and 4:28.37 for the mile, and Lindsey Gallo, whose 4:27.90 indoor mile is the second-fastest by an American this year. Gallo looked sharp finishing fourth in yesterday's 3000m in a personal best 8:56.92.

But just being fit again and having the opportunity to compete seems enough for Hall, at least right now. "It's hard to come so close (to victory), but I'm pleased just to be out here," she said. "It's a miracle that I'm even running today."

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