1) What was your first experience with running? First race that gave you confidence in your running ability?
I hadn't really ever been interested in running until my freshman year of high school, and even then I just began Cross Country with a friend as something to do in the afternoons after school. Before high school, I had only ever ran in one meet, it was in 7th grade when the school needed more runners to participate so I volunteered. I think the first race that made myself and my team realize that I had potential to be a good runner was my first race of high school, a JV pre-season invitational at Westmoor HS where I came in 3rd. While 3rd place isn't outstanding, I think my coach took such notice because I came out of nowhere and wasn't expected to contribute much to the team as I was on JV and new to the sport. I think the first race I really began believing in myself was the first WBAL league meet of my freshman year at San Bruno, where I ran the JV race and won by a large margin. That's when my coaches and I realized that I could be a contributing member on the Varsity team.
2) Looking back at your first three high school years in cross country, what would you say are the races and achievements that stand out for you?
Not including this (my senior year) season, I think the races that still most stand out for me are my first Varsity race in 9th grade, where I came in as the first Menlo finisher. Others are the 2013 Stanford Invitational and the 2013 State Finals, because in both cases I exceeded what was expected of me and I surprised people. I love surprising people and myself because I think I know what I can do and then it sometimes turns out that I could do even more. I honestly remember each race for different reasons, so picking ones that most stand out is pretty hard to do. However, if this season were included, I think each race of this season so far has been surreal (and therefore the most impactful) because I keep surprising myself with the level of running I've been able to attain at these first meets of the season.
3) You have also played Lacrosse in the spring during those three years. What attracted you to that sport and what do you enjoy the most about playing Lax?
Similar to my introduction to Cross Country, freshman year was my first experience with the sport of Lacrosse. When it was time to choose if I would do a spring sport during freshman year, I still wasn't convinced that Cross Country was something I would be very successful at the time. Therefore, I had a lot of friends who decided that they would play lacrosse, and I had seen the sport and was intrigued by the team aspect of it. So I decided to play my freshman year, and I've continued to play for Menlo for the past 3 years. I think my favorite part of lacrosse is the team aspect, as my lacrosse team is made up of a very different group of people from both my XC and my soccer teams, and I wanted to experience that type of team dynamic and spend time with those people.
4) Did you do anything differently this summer in terms of training as you prepared for your senior XC season?
For the past 2 summers I've been involved in my coach Jorge Chen's track club, where I've competed in the 3000M last summer and switched to the 1500M this summer. Therefore, I think that through training for the 1500 I attained that base over the summer that has carried over into the Cross Country season for me.
5) What does a typical week look like for you now? About how many miles per week? Distance of your longest run? Typical workouts? Strength work? Drills?
Nowadays our workouts really vary day by day. My coach always makes it interesting and doesn't tell us what we're going to do until we show up to practice. However, generally a week of practice involves some combination of 2 long runs, 1 speed day, a hill day and a day off. I'm not sure exactly the longest run we do, but I know it generally doesn't go over 6-6.5 miles.
6) Favorite XC course? Favorite XC invitational? Favorite long run? Favorite workout? Favorite running partner(s)?
My favorite XC course is definitely Crystal Springs (Hallmark Park) in Belmont. I live pretty close to that course so I often go up on the weekends and run there. The scenery is amazing and it's always so quiet because not many people know about it, and the course is definitely no cakewalk. My favorite invitational is probably Stanford, because of how flat and fast the course is. Also because of how good the competition consistently is, I know that I'll be challenged whenever we go there. Favorite long run is probably going out to Sawyer Camp Trail along the reservoir, because every half mile is marked and the view is absolutely stunning as well. I don't really have a favorite workout, but I do enjoy doing speed work at Sawyer when I go there on the weekends. I don't really have a favorite running partner because I run on my own nowadays a lot. But in the past couple seasons it has been Zoe Enright, a girl in the grade below me, because we always pushed each other to do our best. Plus she's just an awesome person.
7) Tell us a little about your coaches and how they have helped you develop into the runner you are today.
There's Jorge and Dono who are more or less the head coaches. They are accompanied by the awesome assistants Sean Weeks, Katie Ferguson, and Cara Plamondon. They are all so great for so many different reasons, and I think that we have a good mixture of enthusiasm, wisdom, encouragement, and seriousness in our coaching staff. I think that they, and Jorge especially, have really motivated me to continue pushing myself because they see the potential in their runners, and they are so good at bringing that out. Workouts alone don't cause people to get faster, but motivation and commitment that coaches provide are also vital to staying on the top of your game. I really appreciate all that they've done for me, and they've done too much to describe.
8) You finished in 2nd place at the Stanford Invitational Division III race with a time of 17:58.0. What was the race plan going into the meet? What did you learn from that experience?
Well I knew my main competition going into the Stanford Invitational from previous years' entries, so I knew who I should try and keep with during the race. I knew that I needed to get out quickly at the beginning and then slowly move up those last few spots throughout the race. My mind was mostly on trying to stay as close as the girl in first as possible, as I think it's much easier running to catch someone that worrying about running away from the people behind me.
9) What races are you most looking forward to the rest of the season? Any goals you can share?
I'm really looking forward to the WBAL Finals at Crystal this year, because it will be my last race at Crystal of my high school year, so that's a vey symbolic one for me. As for races that I'm really focusing on doing well in, I'm looking forward to CCS Finals at Toro Park, and then State Championships in Fresno. I have a lot of goals for this season, but I plan on doing best during CCS and State this year.
10) How much of a factor will running have on your selection of a future college?
Running is an important part of my life, and my college decisions reflect that. I plan on running wherever I end up going to college, so while running won't be the main factor in my decision, I will be talking to coaches and will be running for my college.
11) You are in the midst of your 4th XC season. Based on what you have learned during that time span, what would be your advice for a young runner who has the talent to highly at the state level?
I think that finding something to motivate you to keep running is incredibly important. If you find a reason to run, whether it makes you feel happy or your looking ahead towards a next race, just find something that will keep you pushing yourself and keep you excited about every workout. That being said, make sure not to overtrain, as injury is common and getting hurt will affect you in the long run when you think about the actual injury time, plus recovery time and getting back into shape. Therefore, make sure to push yourself but not excessively, I think that it's the quality of the workouts that make the difference, not the quantity of miles in them.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
Thank you so much!!
Thank you very much for your time Lizzie! AJC