Radcliffe out to own New York

Briton confident injury will not hurt tomorrow's bid for hat-trick of marathon titles

Paula Radcliffe arrived in the Big Apple this week with a Halloween witch's costume in her suitcase and with something of a scare on the injury front ahead of the defence of her unbeaten big city marathon record here tomorrow. "I tweaked my hamstring in my last workout," the Briton confided at a breakfast meeting with the media in the basement of a Manhattan hotel yesterday. "I came out here a bit ditzy but I've had treatment and I'm feeling better. I'm back running and I believe I'm going to be fine in the race."

Thank goodness for that, then. Having missed the London Marathon, World Championship marathon and world half marathon championship race this year because of toe surgery and tonsillitis, Radcliffe has been due a break. For once, the Englishwoman has no demons to exorcise in New York. The witch's costume is not for her personal use in the ING New York City Marathon tomorrow. Her daughter Isla, aged two years and 10 months, will be wearing it at a Halloween trick or treat party for the children of the elite athletes this afternoon.

Radcliffe's winning New York runs of 2004 and 2008 came on the back of Olympic disappointments that were prompted by ill-timed illness and injury; she also won here in 2007, 10 months after giving birth to her daughter. Halloween celebrations today just happen to coincide with the 1,000 day countdown to the 2012 Olympics but the ghosts of Games past are no spectre to the world's fastest ever female marathon runner as she works towards a shot at Olympic redemption on home ground. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"I just have a relaxed feeling about 2012," Radcliffe reflected. "I know it sounds stupid, because it should probably be the other way round – because of the amount of pressure and with it being realistically my last shot at an Olympics. But I think maybe what I've been through at the Olympics makes me have that more relaxed approach to it – that it's gone so bad sometimes that it's got to work out well some other time.

"I think the more relaxed I stay about it the better. If you get too worried and too stressful around it that can become counter-productive. I've kind of learnt that however much and however badly you want something, it doesn't necessarily have to be yours. But if you stay relaxed and just see how things go, then sometimes you've got a better chance of getting it.

"Maybe it's getting older, getting wiser. Isla's part of that. By having her here, by having her able to come round and dress up in her witch's costume for Halloween, that does help keep you relaxed about things."

Olympic gold is the one prize to have eluded Radcliffe in a trailblazing distance running career in which she has put the women's world marathon record out of sight, at 2hr 15min 25sec. The Bedfordshire woman has run eight big city marathons and won them all. Her only two defeats at the 26.2 mile distance have come in Olympic races. And yet, 1,000 days out, she is looking at 2012 as not some looming great burden of pressure but as an opportunity to savour.

"I think back to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and I think the boost of running at home is going to be way higher than the pressure," she said. "I do think it's going to be a way bigger positive. Other Olympics have shown that with home athletes."

By the time 2012 comes round, Radcliffe and her husband Gary Lough hope they will have a brother or sister for Isla. "That's something you can't plan," she said, when asked into which particular window in her diary another pregnant pause might fall. The 35-year-old also suggested yesterday that her marathon running days might even extend beyond 2012. "By no means am I saying, 'Right, the minute I cross the line in 2012 that's it, my career's hung up and finished'," she said. "I'd love it to carry on."

Helping to keep Radcliffe going tomorrow through the five New York City boroughs will be the inspiration of two women who have had a far greater fight on their hands than that of racing 26.2 miles. Grete Waitz won the big race in the Big Apple a record nine times. The Norwegian has been fighting cancer for four years but will be following Radcliffe's progress from the lead truck tomorrow. Radcliffe's mother, Pat, will also be in town. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 months ago, missing the trip to New York and telling her daughter on her return to England.

"It's a relief to have her coming here and looking so well," Radcliffe said. "She's feeling very good. That's the main thing."

Long and winding road: Radcliffe's battle for fitness

*17 JANUARY 2007

Gives birth to daughter Isla, her first child, at Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco.

*2 SEPTEMBER

Misses World Championships in Osaka, with a stress fracture in her lower back.

*30 SEPTEMBER

Makes comeback in the Great North Run half marathon, finishing second.

*4 NOVEMBER

Wins the New York Marathon in her first such event since the 2005 World Championships.

*6 MARCH 2008

Withdraws from London Marathon with a toe injury.

*17 AUGUST

Recovers from fractured left femur to race in Beijing Olympics (left), but fails to keep pace with the leaders and finishes in 23rd.

*MARCH 2009

Undergoes operation to remove a bunion, after again pulling out of the London Marathon.

*AUGUST 2009

Wins New York half marathon, but is not fit enough to run in World Championships in Berlin.

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits