Lacy Cramer is above average-height at 5-7, runs with reckless abandonment and is good at making the lives of competitors difficult.
But as the reigning indoor 800m NCAA champion, Cramer has proven herself to be a smart racer. She took the inside lane in the final meter of last years indoor NCAA 800m race to claim her first individual title.
Cramer is ranked seventh nationally in the 800 meters with a time of 2:04.85, less than one week before the indoor national championships.
The last several NCAA indoor finals of the 800m races have been physical with jostling and elbowing. BYU runner Lacy Cramer couldn’t hide her glee thinking about running in the NCAA 800m indoor final in Fayetteville, Arkansas on March 15 to 15.
“Oh, I expect it for sure I expect a physical race,” Cramer said. “I got spiked four times last year and expect this year to be even more rough because I am not going to come from last place like last year. I want to be up in all the action.”
Cramer spoke exclusively with PreRaceJitters:
PRJ: What clicked in the 800 meter final at the NCAA national championship 800-meter race, when you passed Phoebe Wright in lane 1 with less than 10 meters to win?
LC: I was just at the right place at the right time. I could hear my coach just as the inside lane open up. You just can’t think - just act, so I passed her on the inside.
PRJ: What thoughts were going through your mind as soon as you crossed the finish line to win the NCAA women’s indoor 800m title last year?
LC: It was almost unreal. It really did not even sink in for a while. It was just an amazing dream that I never thought was possible. It was probably the greatest moments of my life. Even as I watch the videos now I can still feel that magical feeling.
PRJ: Last year you appeared composed in the 800 meters at the indoor NCAAs race. Were you nervous? Was it intimidating running against the likes of Geena Gall, Latavia Thomas, Heather Dorniden, and Phoebe Wright?
LC: I was more nervous for the trials. I was ranked 13th or something going into nationals and just wanted to make all american. As for the finals I was just happy to be in the race and to be an all american. I did not know who any of those girls were till after the race. My coach just told me to be by Tennessee and LSU. I don’t remember girls until we talk to each other.
PRJ: How many miles per week do you run in the fall and spring?
LC: I usually get up to around 45 but it all depends on that week.
PRJ: How competitive is training on the same team with 800 meter runner Nachelle Stewart (2:05:27)?
LC: We do not work out together. She works out with the sprinters and I usually work out with Angela Wagner.
PRJ: You come into the season with a season’s best of 2:05.19, have you been able to handle more in terms of your training work load this season.
LC: My coach told me I will and I think I have. We are doing the same work outs as last year and I think I am just feeling stronger which is good.
PRJ: How has this season differed from last year?
LC: Well I feel more confident this year. Even though I am not training with Katie Palmer who I really miss, I have Angela there who works so hard. So I am glad that I have someone who pushes me every day.
PRJ: In big races, do you prefer to lead wire-to-wire or running in the pack?
LC: I usually like to run in the pack, but lately I have had to lead some races which I am starting to like better.
PRJ: What were your goals this year at the beginning of the season?
LC: I just want to get faster every year and I will be happy.
PRJ: Last years team included eight All-Americans, two nationals champions, and 15 Mountain West Conference champions while winning indoor and outdoor conference titles. What is this year’s squad capable of producing with both national champions and all eight All-Americans returning?
LC: I think this year is going to be even better. There are so many good girls on the team and I can not wait to see what we can do as a team.
PRJ: Will you do anything different to prepare for conference and indoor NCAAs?
LC: No just the same as last year. I might go to cafe rio a few more times more than last year just so I feel extra good.
PRJ: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from coach Patrick Shane?
LC: He taught me what is most important in life. School and religion and how I am doing come before we even talk about running. He truly knows what is important and really cares about everyone. He taught me how to work hard and how to have fun at the same time. I love Coach Shane and am so lucky to not only be his athlete, but his friend.
PRJ: What influenced your decision to sign with BYU?
LC: Umm…it was always something that I wanted to do. My brother and sister went there and there was never really other place that I really thought about going to. I still remember my dad making me go to the indoor track while we saw all the athletes working out there. My dad told me that I could run here one day. I thought it was a cool idea, but never thought it possible.
PRJ: What do you think of this talented BYU squad? Do you and teammate Katie Palmer ever train together?
LC: This is one of the most talented teams. Katie has been sick lately so I have been lucky to run with Angela.
PRJ: There is a lot of excitement surrounding the third ranked BYU women’s team, can you give me a sense of what the environment is like in the program?
LC: It is just a fun environment. Every day is so fun because all the girls are awesome.
PRJ: What motivates you?
LC: I guess it the feeling after you are done with a race. The satisfaction that everyone thinks that the 800 is a hard race and I love the feeling of accomplishing something that I never thought I could do.
PRJ: How did you get started running?
LC: My family has always been very active and just being around my brother and sister as they ran I guess I just have always thought I was going to be a runner as well.
PRJ: Who are your role models and why?
LC: I think it has always been my sister. She is the most amazing person ever. She taught me who I wanted to be and how to treat people. We are best friends even though we are four years apart. She always done what is right and will always be my biggest role models.
PRJ: How do you balance your academic workload with your running and social life?
LC: It is really hard to balance all three. I really am trying to do good in school right now so I spend a lot of my nights in the library. I am also getting married in two months which causes a little more stress in my life. What fun would I life be if it was easy though.
PRJ: What are your career goals if running doesn’t work out?
LC: I will go into coaching and teaching. I really want to pass on everything that I have learned to kids. I think I could help them love to work hard.
PRJ: Do you get prerace jitters?
LC: Just a little bit. You always need to be a little nervous before any race.
PRJ: Good luck this season and we’ll certainly be watching.
By sportswriter Cheryl Lowe
Albuquerque, New Mexico (February 4, 2010)-Lee Emanuel saw an opportunity, and went for it with determination and the vision that he was going to run the fastest mid-distance races he has ever run in his life.
Emanuel, who is currently working on a Master’s degree in Physical Education transferred to University of New Mexico in 2007 after finishing his undergraduate degree at Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Before he arriving in the United States, Emanuel saw the need for a change in his running routine, and ultimately, his career.
He certainly changed since training at high altitude in Albuquerque, NM.
The two-time All-American’s rapid rise to the top of the NCAA podium within the past two seasons has provided him with an NCAA bronze medal in the 1500m, Mountain West Conference honors, UNM school records, and the Mt. Sac Relays meet record in the outdoor 1500m (3:37.99 PB).
Emanuel is the first Lobo since 1977 to win a gold medal at an NCAA meet in 2009, where he won the indoor mile title in 4:00.36 at the NCAA Indoor National Championship meet at Texas A&M University.
PreRaceJitters’ Cheryl Lowe talks with Lee about his career in the United States, and what is ahead for him in 2010.
PRJ: You have had a lot of success over the last couple years –rewriting the Lobo record books, winning a NCAA individual title, and earning all-American honors. What is the most important lesson you learned last season?
LE: I have learned to always believe in myself. When I came over to the NCAA, during my first year I was kind of in awe of my opponents. In that year Leo Manzano was seen as being untouchable and I kind of bought into that. In my second year I thought to myself I need to step up and start believing I could do what Leo did.
PRJ: How did you get into running?
LE: Back home in England I was a football player, or soccer player, as I have had to start calling it! The first time I realized I could run well was when I was about 9 or 10 and in are PE classes before we did anything else we always had to run a round the field which was probably about 300 meters. In 2 years I never lost so that was the first time I realized I could run well. When I went to secondary school, aged 11, I ran x-country a few times a year and as I played football every day I was always pretty fit. I first started training at 14 after a local coach told me he thought I could be good at running.
PRJ: When you were growing up whom did you model your running after?
LE: I never really watched distance running when I was young. I missed the era when Great Britain was dominant at middle distance running with the likes of [Sebastian] Coe, [Steve] Ovett and [Steve] Cram. I used to like watching the shorter events such as the 100 and 400. I remember being a fan of Linford Christie, but that may have just been because he was one of the guys that was always running on TV.
PRJ: What influenced your decision to attend New Mexico?
It just seemed like the right place to be. I emailed probably 50 coaches in the NCAA and only a handful got back to me. Out of these Coach Franklin was always the most interested and was the first to offer me the chance to come out here, since then I had a lot of trust in him. Added to this was the success he had with athletes from Britain in the past such as Becky Lynn and Scott Overall. He just seemed like a good guy to go with. I was originally going to Butler with him but when he left I decided to switch to New Mexico. The weather, facilities and altitude in Albuquerque made this decision easy, and I do not think I could have made a better choice for a school to attend.
PRJ: Did your finish at Indoor Nationals surprise you?
LE: Not really, I knew I was in great shape and my I went down to Texas with the mind set that I had a chance to win the title. I had run a good DMR leg the weekend before in the last chance meet and knew that I was in great shape. I wanted to take advantage of this, I believed that I had the ability to win a national title and on that day I just felt ready to do it.
PRJ: Which race is your most memorable during your time at New Mexico?
LE: I have had some great times running in a Lobo uniform, the most memorable race of my time here was a race I didn’t do particularly well in. The race was this x-country season when we won the Mountain West Conference for the first time. We travelled to our conference rivals BYU who had won conference 10 years in a row and were ranked as one of the top teams in the country so to beat them was amazing, especially in there home town. Winning nationals was pretty cool too, but winning and celebrating as a team was something that was very special.
PRJ: You are the defending mile NCAA Indoor Champion – when did the “light go on” and you realized that you could run at a very high level?
LE: When I was younger I didn’t really train that often and I always seemed to win so I always knew I was pretty good. I came out to the America with the intention to compete at the top level. Probably the first time I realized I could compete at a high level was at the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State in 2008. I came fifth in the race and was beaten by Lopez [Lomong], [Chris] Solinsky, [Matt] Tegenkamp, and John Reilly and was within a second of all those guys. When I got back home I don’t think anyone could believe I had got so close to these great guys.
PRJ: What are your goals for 2010?
LE: My goals for this year are to try and get as many points for New Mexico as I can in the Conference and National meets. Running fast times are great but winning championships is what defines athletes in my opinion. I will be looking to peak for the NCAA championships and will be racing to win.
PRJ: What are your preparations to repeat winning the indoor mile?
LE: I am training hard and there is not much else I can really do. I think I am ahead of where I was at this point of last year so am pleased with how things are going. I have got the auto time for the mile out of the way nice and early so I can relax with the knowledge that I have booked my ticket to Arkansas already and start focusing on being in optimum shape for March the 12th.
PRJ: You once said in an interview that your coach Joe Franklin, told you “the stronger you are, the quicker you can finish.” How has that influenced you?
LE: I did not believe him at first, the first time I raced a mile for him I got beat pretty badly. He asked me what I thought we should do next. I said speed work he said the opposite. I thought he was wrong but he proved himself completely right, which was annoying!! Last year I had my greatest ever year without once putting my spikes on for a training session and the fastest I ran all season in training was 28 seconds so it seems to work for me.
PRJ: What runners are you excited about toeing the line with this season?
LE: The competition will be fierce this year especially in the 1,500/mile. I am excited to test myself against the top guys like, German and Centro who have given me a good and honest race every time I have come against them. The way German won Nationals was phenomenal; I could only take my hat of too him on that day. I am hoping there will be a lot more athletes from our group here in New Mexico are involved in the big races this year; Rory Fraser is doing great right now, and Dave Bishop, Ross Millington, Sam Evans, Jacob Kirwa and Chris Barnacle are all looking great in training at the moment so am hopeful I will be on the line with a lot of these guys at NCAA’s this year.
PRJ: What are your favorite training and racing shoes?
LE: We are a Nike school so all my shoes are Nike, which is great as I love there kit. I run in Pegasus every day, race in Nike Victory’s or Matumbos depending on the race. I do workouts in Katanas or Marathoners again depending on what we are doing.
PRJ: Do you get prerace jitters?
LE: Not really, I love racing and the bigger the race the more I enjoy it. I get nervous of course everyone does but I am not too bad and am always pretty relaxed before races.
PRJ: Thank you for your time and best of luck this season.
Going into a new year and decade with the advent of 2010, American distance running could sharpen its edges and gain more momentum, as the sport of running increases in popularity nation-wide.
The Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon in Houston, TX, provides a microcosm of the running boom in this country. Every year, the field grows by thousands as more people lace up their running shoes and tackle their personal goals for the new year.
Houston will once again host the USA Half Marathon Championships. Last year in 2009, we saw Meb Keflezeghi beat Dathan Ritzenhein on the men’s side in 1:01:25. Magdalena Boulet dominated the women’s field in 1:11:47, but not without newcomer Kelly Jaske nipping at her heels. Jaske, who once before considered herself a “jogger,” ran an outstanding half marathon performance in 1:12:06.
Once again in 2010, Houston will not disappoint in providing an excellent race. This year, Shalane Flanagan, 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist in the 10,000m, will vie for the win in the women’s USA Half Marathon Championships. Houston will be Shalane’s first half marathon.
“Houston’s got good weather, a fast course and a good crowd. I’m really
excited to toe the line in Houston and tackle a whole new event,” said Flanagan.
Magdalena Boulet returns to defend her title in the women’s half marathon. Colleen De Reuck, the 2004 winner and course record holder (1:10:55), will also return to Houston. They will be joined by Serena Burla (Ballwin, Mo.), Heidi Westover (Walpole, N.H.), seeded 4th and 5th respectively.
On the men’s side, Josh Rohatinsky (Portland, Ore.) and Tim Nelson (Portland, Ore.) are now the highest seeded runners in the USA Half Marathon Championships, since James Carney unfortunately dropped out due to injury. Carney won the race in 2008.
In the full marathon, Teyba Erkesso of Ethiopa returns to defend her title. Erkesso won the women’s marathon in 2009, where she ran a course record in 2:24:18. Paige Higgins of McMillan Elite, who ran the half marathon last year in 1:14:24 (13th), is the second highest seeded runner for the women in the full marathon.
Jason Mbote of Kenya, who ran a 2:07:37 personal record at the 2008 Seoul Marathon, will be the highest seeded elite runner in the marathon field. Charles Kibiwott, also from Kenya, will be competing in the full marathon.
Brett Gotcher, who placed third in the USA Half Marathon Championships in 2009 (1:02:09), will debut in his first marathon performance.
“I’m definitely not going to just go out there and run 2:15 or 2:14 or something. I’m definitely going to be aggressive and try to go for it. My whole thing is that I’m hoping on a good day, I can run with the lead pack,” said Gotcher.
Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, who won the event last year and set a new course record in 2:07:52, will not be competing in Houston in 2010. Merga has his sights set on the Boston Marathon this April, where he hopes for a win.
PreRaceJitters.com will be covering the 2010 USA Half Marathon Championships and Chevron Houston Marathon this weekend. Stay tuned for the latest news!
Blog preview written by PreRaceJitters staff writer Cheryl Lowe.
Galen Rupp is unstoppable. In the last 10,000m race of his college career, he ran 28:21.45 to get another NCAA title. Rupp sat behind Liberty’s Sam Chelanga and Shawn Forrest of Arkansas through most of the race, but it was evident he had an extra gear.
“It was obvious that [Chelanga and Forrest] wanted to set an honest pace, but I held on and knew just what I had to do and the right time to do it,” Rupp said.
However, Forrest and Chelanga did not let him go without a fight. Over the last 3 laps, the race really began. Rupp made his move and Forrest challenged it. With a quick glance behind him, Rupp picked up his pace. Forrest finished strong, but could not stop Rupp.
In the women’s 10,000m, Providence’s Danette Doetzel ran a strong race for a 33:25.71 win. Last year’s champion, Lisa Koll of Iowa State, lead much of the race, but eventually faded to a ninth place finish.
“I’ve been training really hard, and I knew I was in shape coming in. I was looking forward to this race, but really tried to take it easy early on. The pace came back to me in the last two kilometers or so, and I just took over and was able to hang on,” Doetzel said.
Rupp might be on his way out of the college running scene, but the next big thing is freshman German Fernandez of Oklahoma State. Already a success in high school, Fernandez has been a top runner this year. Tonight he won his heat of the 1500m semifinals in 3:41.39, and is a favorite to win what will be a very competitive final on Saturday.
Another Oregon athlete to watch is Andrew Wheating in the 800m. He won his heat and had had the fastest time of the semifinals, 1:46.21. It will be another Texas vs. Oregon dual in the finals as Tevon Everett ran 1:46.97. On the women’s side, it will likely be a close race between indoor champ Geena Gall of Michigan and Phoebe Wright of Tennessee.
In the 200m, Texas A&M’s Porscha Lucas ran 22.38 in the semifinals, which is the #2 fastest time in the world this year. Chris Dykes represented the Aggie men by running the top 200m time, 20.40.
The preliminary round of the 4×400m was between Florida State and Baylor. Baylor is known for their men’s 4×400, but this year they will have to watch out. Florida State showed they are ready to compete by outkicking Mississippi State by less than 1 second. For the women, LSU and Texas had the top 2 times.
By Cheryl Lowe.
Timing is everything. Going into the race, Sam Chelanga of Liberty University stepped up to the line of the men’s 10,000-meter race at the 2009 Brutus Hamilton Invitational meet in Berkeley, CA, with the goal in mind of running around a 27:40.
The Liberty All-American distance runner crossed the finish line in a collegiate record time of 27:28.48 instead, with a huge smile on his face and fans cheering on the sidelines.
Chelanga’s finish time is now one of the fastest in the world at the 10,000-meter distance, and there is little doubt that Neirobi-born runner will keep shifting gears to stay up at the front of the pack in the future.
Only a college sophomore so far, Chelanga has plans on dominating the rest of this track season in preparation for the NCAA Outdoor Nationals, where he and Oregon’s Galen Rupp will once again duel it out for the title.
PreRaceJitters.com sat down with Sam Chelanga to ask him about his recent record setting race, and what the future bodes for him this season.
PRJ: This past weekend at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational you ran 27:28.48, setting a new collegiate record in the 10,000. What were you thoughts immediately after crossing the finish line?
SC: I was amazed, because I wasn’t expecting to win the race, given the tough competition.
PRJ: Was breaking the collegiate record on your mind going into the race? If so, what was your race strategy going into the race?
SC: No, it wasn’t. I had never run anywhere close to the collegiate record. I was just aiming for a nice PR.
PRJ: Did the race unfold as you had planned? Were you waiting for the moment that you ran ahead of the pack with Collis Birmingham, and poured on the kick for the win?
SC: My plan was to sit back behind the leaders, and that went smoothly until the last three laps. Then, I thought maybe I should try to push the last couple laps. The kick was spontaneous and wasn’t planned at all.
PRJ: We are at the midway point in the outdoor season and you’ve already run 27:28.48, so far. What does this race say about what you can achieve at the 10K this season?
SC: I don’t think it will be easy to run faster than that this season, because such times require a good field of competitors and rabbits. I’ll just take that for now and pray that I stay fit for nationals.
PRJ: What are your goals for IC4A Outdoor Track Championships and Outdoor Nationals? Are you planning on doubling in the 5,000 and 10,000 at NCAA Nationals?
SC: I might just run the 5K at the IC4A meet to score points for our team. At nationals, I’m thinking of focusing on the 10K right now.
PRJ: It’s almost becoming a standing appointment with you and Galen Rupp. It came down to a two-man race with you at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships and at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Does breaking Rupp’s 10k record this past week add any anticipation to running against him at the Outdoor NCAA Championships?
SC: I actually do not get excited at all after huge races like the ones you just mentioned. Even after breaking his record, I just consider it a great performance and move on. Every day is a new day, and the past is gone. It all depends on what happens now and on the day when we race each other again.
PRJ: How do you balance school with training and competing especially at this time of year with finals looming?
SC: I just try my best to do my work on time and get my training done. I also do schoolwork while traveling, so I don’t lose time. I sometimes get tired though.
PRJ: How do you mentally prepare for each race?
SC: I just try to relax and not worry about the race. I also talk to my brother (my American brother, Josh Cox). We just talk about general stuff and then pray over the phone. It’s relaxing to have Coach Tolsma there as well, in case I have a question. My friends and teammates leave me messages, and that gets me focused.
PRJ: Are you still doing a lot of training with Josh McDougal? Are you still seeking advice and mentorship from marathoner Paul Tergat?
SC:I do most of my training with the other guys on the team, and I also do some workouts on my own. I don’t get to talk to Paul Tergat often, but when we do talk, he always has something good to say.
PRJ: What does your older brother Joshua Chelanga have to say about all your performances this year?
SC: My brother Joshua Chelanga gets really excited about my success, but he is slow to accept the fact that I will one day beat his PRs. He is so glad that I am getting better every day.
Finally, I just want to thank everyone who is reading this interview. I always delight in the little things, like putting a smile on someone’s face or inspiring others by sharing the love of God through running.
Cheryl Lowe is a sportwriter for PreRaceJitters.com.
When the gun was raised to start the men’s 1500m at the 2009 Stanford Invitational, the usual suspects towed the line—Chris Solinsky, Ian Dobson, and Evan Jager. But the looming question was identifying the guy in the green uniform lined up with the aforementioned athletes?
The runner in green, Baylor’s Chris Gowell, finished the race with a second-place finish behind Austin Abbott, running a personal best 3:41.85, officially serving notice that he had arrived in America.
Baylor will never be the same.
Gowell, a new-comer this year, is helping turn things around for Baylor ’s middle distance program. Already ranked as one of the top United Kingdom 800m runners before coming to Baylor, Gowell is now pursuing the 1500m, while at the same time raising the profile of Baylor men’s track and field program better known for Michael Johnson, Jeremy Wariner and the 4×400 meter relay.
Bringing experience, drive and a thunderous kick, Gowell is leading another British invasion, hoping to do for Baylor middle distance what the Beatles did for pop music, make it rock.
The Gowell effect was felt immediately: The Baylor squad swept the sprint medley relay and distance medley relay at Texas Relays with the 23-year old running definitive legs to secure victory for a squad with plans of improving on its’ fifth place team finish at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas.
PreRaceJitters had the opportunity to talk with Chris about his background, his current training and racing at Baylor University, as well as his goals for the future.
PRJ: Growing up as kid in Great Britain, how did you develop yourself into the runner that you are today?
CG: I have always been involved in sport as a kid, and initially more passionately through golf. By the age of 16, I had achieved a handicap of 3, until my first coach, Ann Hill, spotted me at a running meet. I loved running the first time I tried it and she and my family were always very supportive in my progress.
She always maintained a high work ethic in her methods, which harvested the attitude in me to always aim to the top and not mediocrity. Probably the reason why I am rarely happy with my races, as it can always be better. She sadly passed when I was 21 but I would say that it was her initial guidance and mentoring that kept me on the track and out of trouble and certainly shaped who I am today. I have been blessed to have such great guidance throughout my athletic career.
PRJ: How did you get to Baylor University and how has your acclimation to the U.S. collegiate running system been so far?
CG: Despite having a great coach in Daryl Maynard in Wales, I felt that working and training full time was too physically taxing to make the most out of what I am capable of doing. It is well documented that the USA collegiate system produces many successful athletes and I felt the best way to maximize my education and athletics would be to pursue an American college, although I never thought it would actually happen.
I sent an e-mail to Baylor with a brief resume and I was surprised to receive a response. The moment I came to visit Baylor, I knew it was the place I wanted to be. Baylor was the only university I pursued. Its reputation speaks for itself, but what people do not see is the family-like environment behind the scenes. Everyone is friendly and I have made many friends. I just hope it is not because they like my accent!
The American collegiate running system is very competitive, chiefly the reason why America produces so many great athletes. The biggest benefit I have had is the training environment; the physio and treatment facilities are far advanced to what I have ever witnessed. There are few excuses for not competing well with such an environment.
PRJ: From most people looking in from the outside, the 400 meters is the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning Baylor. With that, what inspired you to join their program, as an up-and-coming middle distance runner?
CG: I talked to Coach Harbour and Coach Capron expressing how I had intentions of moving up to the mile and they reciprocated. I really liked their intentions for me and with Coach Harbour running as fast as he has, he is obviously very knowledgeable.
They also expressed a desire to raise Baylor’s middle distance reputation/profile, and I really wanted to be a part of that. Things have gone well so far with the DMR victory at Texas relays. I could not be happier with my training and training methods thus far, and I’m excited for the season to see what I can do.
PRJ: After enrolling in Baylor in January, you finished fifth overall in the men’s 800 meters, at the 2009 NCAA Indoor National Championships clocking a time of 1:48.78, earning your first-ever All-America honor. What did that feel like?
CG: It felt great but I obviously wanted to win as I was in great shape. It was a very competitive race; there is no place for minor mistakes in such a great field. To achieve an All American honors, so to speak, is a great achievement and I was very proud. For my first collegiate indoor season, I felt I raced very consistently, which bodes well for the imminent outdoor season.
PRJ: In your seasonal debut 1500m race at the 2009 Stanford Invitational, you ran 3:41.85, placing second in a stacked heat and in doing so recorded the second fastest time in school history behind your coach Todd Harbour. How did that race unfold for you?
CG: I was very excited to have a chance to race a quick 1500 as training has suggested I was ready. I am very pleased with the time and I am looking forward to go quicker, it’s a great feeling to have started a new event at the age of 23. As for Coach Harbour’s record, the sky would have to be the limit on that one; that is a very fast time but anything is possible.
PRJ: Are you having fun so far? You were a member of both the Sprint Medley Relay and Distance Medley Relay that won Texas Relays titles. How exciting was it to anchor the Distance Medley Relay to victory, as that race came down to a three-team race over the final laps?
CG: That was a great meet and the most enjoyable, but that’s easy to say since we did so well. To win the DMR was great as we were underdogs, and it’s nice to put Baylor distance on the Map. It is an up and coming team as Zwede [Hewitt], Zac [Flowers] and James [Gilreath] are so young with so much talent and potential. They are coming along well and we will improve. I’m not so young at 23, but I would like to think I could still improve.
We were going for the national record in the SMR, but unfortunately the wind was a little strong. I think it’s very achievable though.
PRJ: Are you going to run any more 1500s or focus primarily on the 800m for the remainder of this season? What are your long-term goals in the sport?
CG: This is a decision Coach Harbour and I are yet to make. We will see how the 800 pans out first, as I would not like to rule that out just yet, but I am excited for the 1500 for sure. However it is important not to rush the progression.
My future is unknown. I am happy I am giving myself the best possibility to become world class while at Baylor, and if I am by the end of my time here, then why change a winning formula? But I am only thinking short term at this stage.
PRJ: What will your training be like with the Michael Johnson Classic coming up this weekend, Drake Relays the following week and the Big 12 Conference meet less than a month away?
CG: Everything is geared toward regionals and nationals so we are not easing down greatly but certainly giving ourselves the best chance to run quick in each race.
PRJ: How do you prepare yourself mentally for your races?
CG: I am a fairly relaxed athlete; I take things as they come and try not to let things bother me, as over the years I have realized that a pre-race routine is difficult to uphold given the many different racing venues we go to. Music is my biggest preparation, but other than that I see or notice few obstacles in running quick.
PRJ: What are your goals for the remainder of the 2009 collegiate outdoor track season and this summer?
CG: To get myself in the National final, and from there I believe I have as good as chance as anyone to win. I would like to get below 3:39 for the 1500 and 1:46 for 800.
PRJ: Who are your role models? Who or what inspires you?
CG: Being part of such a successful team of both athletes and coaches is a great motivator to train hard and achieve. But I am also very self-motivated and self-driven in terms training. I rarely get unmotivated in my training, which is a good thing as at times things can get tough.
PRJ: What are your hobbies and interests other than running?
CG: I love to golf; unfortunately I have not had a chance since I have been in America. I enjoy reading and writing, it is good to pen thoughts.
PRJ: Chris, thanks for your time and good luck with your season.
Cheryl Lowe is a writer and contributor for PreRaceJitters.
This weekend, College Station, Texas will be the ultimate place for the running enthusiast. Texas A&M University is hosting the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championship track meet, and one of the most exciting match ups to watch will be the men’s 5,000 as the University of Oregon senior Galen Rupp runs against rival Sam Chelanga of Liberty University. Read more