By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Versatile young U.S. runner Mary Cain aims to show off her speed over 800 meters in a New York homecoming performance at the Armory Track Invitational on Saturday.
The 18-year-old Cain, who has set multiple national junior records outdoors and is the reigning world junior 3,000 meters champion, is using the shorter race as preparation for a world championships campaign in the 1,500.
"I think it's very healthy and important to mix up distances you run, which is why I'm running the 800," said Cain, who left her suburban New York home to attend college and train as a professional under coach Alberto Salazar in Portland, Oregon.
Her Nike Oregon Project team mate Galen Rupp, the Olympic 10,000 meters silver medalist, has set his sights on running the fastest indoor two miles ever in the Armory meet.
"I am a 1,500 runner right now," Cain said about her plans for the Beijing world championships and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. "Tactically, physically, it all meshes for me at that distance."
Cain said going full throttle in the 800 denies her the pleasure of summoning a finishing kick.
"There’s something really fun about being a kicker," she said. "Once you get to 200 to go and you're still with those girls, you smell blood.
"That’s one reason I think the 1,500 is so exciting. You have to be strong, have to be a distance runner. But in that last hundred you are going all out.
"That’s one of the funnest parts about running, that last bit. A little bit of fear, a little bit of just everything, all your emotions just bottled up."
Cain is looking to build on her first taste of world championships competition when she finished 10th in Moscow in 2013 at age 17.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)