5:06 PM EDT, September 8, 2011
Allyson Felix sounded exhausted.
Felix called me Wednesday from Zurich, Switzerland, where she had gone after winning her fourth medal at the World Track & Field Championships that ended Sunday in Daegu, South Korea.
"Hanging in there,'' she said with a laugh and a scratchy voice. "I'm pretty tired."
Felix wanted to be home in Los Angeles. She really wanted to be home in Los Angeles.
The 25-year-old is the kind of person who honors commitments, and long ago she had made one to run at the Zurich Weltklasse meet, often called the ``one-day world championships."
Yes, there is money involved -- an estimated $40,000 appearance fee. But Felix already makes enough for dollars not to get in the way of good sense. This was more about good intentions.
"I'm trying to keep my word even though I was debating," she said.
So Felix will run the 200 meters Thursday at Zurich -- in a field with six of the eight world finalists and two the three medalists, with new world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica absent -- and then call it a season and rest until the end of October, when she begins training for the 2012 Olympic campaign.
UPDATE: World 200 silver medalist Carmelita Jeter of the United States won the Zurich 200 in 22.27 seconds, with Felix second in 22.40.
Her first attempt at doing two individual events in a championship meet had not ended as she would have hoped. In Daegu, Felix took silver at 400 and bronze in the 200, the race she had won at the three previous world meets.
Although her reaction immediately after the 200 had implied that once was enough for the double, with a few days to think about it Felix won't rule out another try if she qualifies for two events at the London Summer Games.
"Of course, I would have loved to have gotten gold in both events," said Felix, who did win gold on both relays, "but I don't see it as a complete failure. I feel like I got a lot of valuable information from it, and I can improve on things going forward. I feel more confident now having done it, knowing what it feels like if I was to do it again."
And what about a different double? When I spent a day with Felix and her coach, Bob Kersee, this spring in Los Angeles, Kersee talked about seeing what she could do at 100 meters.
Felix won the 2010 U.S. title in the 100 and finished fifth at the 2008 Olympic trials, where her time of 10.96 seconds was just .06 from the top three who qualified to run at Beijing.
Until recently, though, her starts had been too weak to have a real chance against the world elite in the 100.
"I have not eliminated the 100," Kersee had said. "She is getting better at the start. If she is up there with the top sprinters in the world at 40 meters, I think she can beat them."
Felix's previous coach, Pat Connolly, told me last month she wished the runner had been working on the 100 instead of the 400.
"I wanted her to develop her speed first," said Connolly, who coached Evelyn Ashford to Olympic gold and a world record in the 100. "I don't feel she has run her fastest 100 yet."
Felix, who ran the 100 just once this season, agrees with both Kersee and Connolly.
"The 100 is definitely going to be in our plan next year," she said. "I definitely feel my start has improved a lot, and I do have potential there."
A 100-200 double would be easier for two reasons. One, obviously, is the 100 is a heckuva lot shorter than the 400. The other is running the 100 before the 200, still Felix's favorite event, makes the 100 a potentially good warmup, and the schedule is that way in the worlds and Olympics.
But running the 400 before the 200, as she did in Daegu and would have to in London, beats down the body, and Felix already has a much smaller body to beat down than most of her rivals. The London 400-200 schedule actually is tighter than it was at worlds, with no day off between the 400 final and the first round of the 200.
Felix ran eight races at worlds -- three in each individual event, then the final of the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays. Some might think racing 2,300 meters in nine days isn't a lot of work, but the explosive demands of the sprints take a toll that can be as hard on the body as three rounds of the 1,500 meters.
She was the only athlete to win four medals in Daegu and a major contributor to an exceptionally solid U.S. performance, with the team topping the gold and overall medal counts.
The U.S. results look even better when viewed in the placing table scores, where countries get points for reach top-eight finish -- eight for first, seven for second, etc.
Team USA was a runaway winner by this measure, with 251 points to 201 for Russia. Only once in 13 previous worlds has the U.S. scored more (256 in 1993). Factoring in the women's events added in the past six world meets, this still was the third best U.S. total.
For Felix, the season has been so demanding she hasn't even had time to think of a vacation spot -- although her eye has been on Laucala, an exclusive resort off Fiji where rooms go for $3,900 a night.
Even though she doesn't get in the water above her knees.
"I can swim," she said. "I just don't.
"Watching the water is my idea of a perfect vacation."
Right now, such a vacation is at the other end of the earth and just 200 meters away.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC