Thursday, December 01, 2011

Catching up with Branson runner, Julia Maxwell...

Today we chat with Branson HS sophomore runner, Julia Maxwell (pictured to the left at the Stanford Invitational courtesy of Margaret Gallagher).  This past Saturday, Julia completed an undefeated cross country season taking the Division V individual title by running 17:52 and winning the race by 30 seconds over the 2nd place finisher.  Her section and state championship victories were an improvement from last year's 4th place (NCS) and 5th place (state) finishes as a freshman.  Just like the last athlete I interviewed, John Lawson of Sir Francis Drake, Julia has also participated in the Dipsea race with great success.

1) What was the first race you remember entering and how did you do?

I remember racing a mile in elementary school 2 or 3 times a year for PE. At the time, I hadn't started running yet, and I nervously anticipated running the race against my other classmates. It wasn't until my mom started taking me out on trail runs when I was 12 that I discovered a love for running and decided that I really wanted to pursue the sport.

2) Tell us a little about your parents and their influence on your running career.
Both my parents have influenced my running, as they both were accomplished athletes who ran at Cal. My mom inspired me to start running when I was 12, and my love for the sport grew with her total support and encouragement. Ever since the first time she took me out for a run, she has continued to teach me to have a passion for running which has given me a desire to challenge and push myself in every workout and race. She has showed me all the scenic trails Marin County has to offer and I still enjoy running with her.
My dad was a high level track coach as well as an olympic marathoner who took 3rd place in the Boston Marathon in 1977. Although I never got to run with him, I am still inspired by his determination and drive to achieve the most out of himself. Having the opportunity to follow in his footsteps and carry on his name has really given me an ability to trust myself during races and motivated me to push myself to become the best runner I can.

3) What was one of your earlier highlights this past cross country season?
One of the highlights of my 2011 XC season was winning the Stanford Invitational for division V. It was my first race of the season, and, coming off of an injury, I had some doubt about how well I could perform. After putting all that uncertainty on the line I was really happy that I was able to prove to myself that even though I took a risk, I still had the strength to put out my best performance and compete against some really strong other runners. Coming across the finish line in that that race was really an unbelievable feeling and the best way to start an undefeated season.

4) What did you do this summer training wise in preparation for the cross country season?
I logged more miles this summer and did a lot of hilly runs, which built up a good base. I was also training at high-altitude for weeks at a time, which I believe really helped me gain fitness for the season.

5) Who are the runners that you have raced the most and have pushed you to become a faster runner?
Other high school runners from the north coast area, including Bridget Blum and Holland Reynolds from SF University have both motivated me and been great competitors in NCS and state cross country as well as in track. I've always been amazed and inspired by accomplished high school runners, such as Jordan Hasay, a division high school V standout from CA. On my own team, my brother, Chris, and I run very similar times, so he is a great training partner and has always supported and encouraged me to get the most out of myself.

6) Favorite invitational? Favorite xc race? Favorite xc workout? Favorite distance run? Favorite track distance?
Favorite invitational: Stanford. Favorite xc race: Branson's home course, at Bon Tempe Lake in Marin County. Favorite xc workout: sets of a ladder of 400, 600, 800, 1200. Favorite distance run: Any of the beautiful trails on Mt. Tam. Favorite Track distance: 3200.

7) What was your plan going into the NCS XC meet and how did that race unfold?
At NCS, I knew there were going to be some girls who would go out pretty fast in the first mile, so my intention was to go out under control but also to not lose sight of my top competitors. After the first mile and a quarter I felt pretty strong so decided to push the pace a little bit and took the lead. I lead for the rest of the race and tried to extend my lead by taking advantage of the hills. I aimed to stay relaxed and to run a consistent pace.

8) What about the state XC meet? What was the race plan going in and how did that race unfold?
Similarly, at state I planned to go out in a controlled pace for the first mile and focused on running my own race. I knew that there were going to be a lot of competitors who liked to go out really quick, but I hoped to surpass early leaders by using the hills as my strength. Just before the two mile mark, I passed the early leader, Alexia Velarde, on the steep hill and then just tried to hold on and keeping pushing the pace and extending a lead all the way to the finish.

9) Just like Sir Francis Drake runner John Lawson, you have have also participated in the Dipsea race. How many Dipsea races have you run? What was your best finish? Do you do any specific training leading up to the race?
In the first Dipsea (2009) I competed in, I took 4th place overall, as well as first women finisher and fastest women's time. My actual time was 60:50. Because the Dipsea takes place right at the end of track season, I've been prevented from logging a lot of miles and endurance hill workouts, which is usually the way to train for a race like the Dipsea. I still love racing it though, even coming right off of track season, because it's such a beautiful course and it's such a physical and mental challenge. The Dipsea is also a huge part of the roots of Marin running, and I feel so lucky to be a part of such a historic and remarkable race.

10) Anything else you would like to add.
I am so thankful for all the opportunities that I have been given and for the support of my family and friends.

Thank you very much for your time Julia!  AJC

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