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Blake Russell — Nov, 2011
Blake Russell was a member of the 2008 United States Olympic team which competed in Beijing, China where she finished in 27th place in the marathon in 2:33:13. She finished third in the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon in Boston with a time of 2:32:40. Blake ran her personal best of 2:30:32 when she placed fourth at the 2004 Olympic Trials in St. Louis after leading the first 17 miles. She won her first marathon, the 2003 Twin Cities Marathon, in 2:30:41. Blake represented the United States at the 2005 World Track and Field Championships, finishing in 22nd place at 10,000 meters. She is the 2006 U.S. Cross Country Champion and is a member of three U.S. bronze medal teams at the World Cross Country Championships where she twice placed in the top 15 individuals. At 5,000 meters Blake won the 1999 Pan Am Games bronze medal and 2000 Penn Relays gold medal. While at the University of North Carolina, Blake won A.C.C. titles at 1,500 and 5,000 meters. She was All-State at Forsyth Country Day High School (Winston-Salem, NC) in cross country and track and won 11 of a possible 12 state championships at 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m. Her personal best times include: 1,500m – 4:18:82; 3,000m – 8:51:57; 5,000m – 15:10.58; 10,000m – 31:35:25; half marathon – 1:11:55 and marathon – 2:30:32. Blake was named 2006 Cross Country Athlete of The Year and received the Doris Heritage Award from the USATF Cross Country Running Council. She was inducted into the Forsyth Country Day High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. Blake earned her bachelor's degree in psychology/exercise science from North Carolina and her master's degree in physical therapy from Elon University. She lives in Pacific Grove, California with her husband, Jon, and their son, Quin, born in April 2009.
GCR:The 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon is just around the corner in January, 2012. How has your training been going the past few months in terms of mileage, long runs, tempo running and stamina and speed sessions?
BRThe last couple months I’ve just been running without really focusing on mileage. If I run 80 miles its fine, if I run 90 miles its fine – I haven’t done as much as 100 in a week. I just keep my usual schedule with two harder workouts and one long run each week which is a typical distance running plan. Mainly I am trying to get a little bit of speed back before I go into my final marathon training since I missed the U.S. nationals on the track. I’ve been doing some tempo runs and am happy with my fitness level. A recent 10-mile tempo run went fine which is a good indication for me. That was a week ago so I took it easy during this past week for recovery and now I’m ramping it up a bit more. My specific marathon plan starts next week so we haven’t been obsessing over the training – just getting fit for what lies ahead.
GCR:What will you do in the final two months before the Trials in terms of training and racing to fine tune your condition to have you at your best?
BRI usually do marathon pace work every week but nothing that is over 12 miles. I don’t have one key workout that I do as my coach preaches that it is the culmination of all the work. There isn’t one workout that will ‘make or break me.’ I just get used to what numbers I want to see when I am running workouts on the track or tempo runs. My long runs haven’t been over two hours so I will do more than that. I’ll hit the track once a week for some longer intervals. I haven’t been able to do the track workouts the last couple years because of injuries and other issues so it is nice to know I’m ready to go into this type of training and do some things I haven’t been able to do. I don’t usually do specific hill sessions because it’s so hilly around here anyway – all of my runs involve climbing mountains or running along the ocean which can be hilly in certain spots – I have a hard time finding flat places for workouts.
GCR:Your son, Quin, was born in April, 2009, so life as a professional runner is more complicated. How has being a mom affected your training and is it getting easier as he gets older? Also, is the need to balance between being a competitive runner and a mom a good thing?
BRInitially from when he was born until about a year old it was physically demanding because I made a decision to nurse for a year and it was rough. In hindsight maybe I should have done it for six months, but it was something I wanted to do and I couldn’t train properly. Once I gave that up and he got more active it’s been fun as we can have conversations, he has opinions and we can do a lot more together. Even though the first part was demanding it is still tough as I want to make sure he’s having fun, so we are creative and do different things. Sometimes I just run in the door after a run and take him to the park and play for an hour or go biking. So it’s active recovery for me as I’m chasing him around. I get in my running and weight lifting, but the little things are hard to get in. The days of just sitting on the couch and relaxing are gone. And when he takes naps I have tasks I need to get done before he wakes up. We play in the sprinklers, walk around the neighborhood and have water gun fights. It’s tough but if I have a second run I will do it while he is napping and get back before he wakes up as I try to spend as much time as possible with Quin.
GCR:How long of a break in training did you take during the latter stages of your pregnancy and when Quin was a baby? Did the time off give you a ‘spark’ when you resumed training?
BRWhen I was pregnant I had all these plans and couldn’t wait to run. When he was born I was hoping to run the Houston Marathon the next January but it came and went and I was nowhere near ready to race. I was in major sleep deprivation as I didn’t sleep more than three hours at a time until he was eight months old and you just can’t do that and function. The spark didn’t really come back until I started feeling good when running. I wasn’t sure for a while if I could get it back as every time I ran I felt horrible. The rare nights where I got five hours of sleep I felt good but I could count those on one hand.
GCR:In late 2010 you got back on track at the Rock ’n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon in a personal best 1:11:55 and then you finished 19th at the 2011 World Cross Country Championships. You looked primed for a great return to the marathon in Boston in April, 2011 but dropped out about halfway. Was it something minor or major and has it affected your training since then?
BRThis year’s Boston Marathon is still a little bit of a mystery. I got there a couple of days early and was experiencing nighttime coughs which I thought was just an allergy. I started running the race and couldn’t breathe properly. It was a weird feeling as five miles into the race I was thinking, ‘I shouldn’t be tired.’ I made it to about the 12-mile mark and thought that I just couldn’t make it through the hills as I was almost going backwards. It wasn’t fun or what I expected as my training had been going very well. A couple days later I developed bronchitis and I had it for seven weeks which is why I missed the U.S. Championships. It was just one of those things where I think I had been fighting something and was susceptible to getting sick because I was on the edge and finally it came to a head.
GCR:You’ve raced cross country ever since your high school days – how much fun is it for you and the other top U.S. runners to race as a team at the World Championships and how special was it to win bronze team medals?
BRThis year I earned my third team medal as I was a member of the 8,000 meter team and 4,000 meter team that medalled a few years ago. It is very special because the team is so small and you get to really spend a lot of time with the other ladies on the team. When I was on the U.S. track team it was so huge that I just didn’t feel as connected. So it was great. Some of my fondest memories of running are travelling to the World Cross Country Championships because you get there early, tour the site, relax, have fun and get ready to race. It was very exciting this year as I was so proud of my teammates and that Shalane Flanagan earned an individual medal. Everybody ran very well.
GCR:How exciting was it to be a member of the 2008 United States Olympic team, especially after you came so close with a fourth place finish at the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2004?
BRIt’s hard to describe as it was a dream that didn’t really hit me until afterwards. I was so nervous at the 2008 Trials as I was running strong and felt that it was ‘my team to lose’ at that point. To make the top three I just needed a solid race even though I had some injuries leading up to the race. The memory of finishing with the flag and the fanfare is something I will never forget. If I hadn’t made the Olympic team my career wouldn’t have been a failure, but it is nice icing on the cake.
GCR:When during the final stages of the race did you start to feel that you couldn’t be caught and had made the team?
BRThere was a turnaround going into the last 10k where I saw Desiree Davila close behind me and thought, ‘She looks great and I don’t feel so great.’ She was charging so I made a plan to pick it up until the next turnaround and when I got to it I realized I had a good enough cushion that I had to maintain and not do anything crazy – just get to the finish line. That was with about a mile and a half to go. It was nice I had a cushion and that it didn’t come down to a kick.
GCR:Your Olympic team marathon qualifying had a parallel path to that of Magdalena Lewy-Boulet as she was fifth in 2004 and also made the team in 2008. Do you share a bond with her since you both turned the disappointment of 2004 into excitement in 2008?
BRThe funny thing is since I was new to California I wasn’t that familiar with Magdalena in 2004. She had a baby after the 2004 Trials so she was out of competition for a while and we didn’t have a chance to talk with each other. We weren’t really friends yet. So we just started seeing each other at races in 2008 and got caught up. We raced on the track at Stanford just before the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon which was the first time we had seen each other since the 2004 Trials. It was great that we both made the team. It just shows that two determined athletes who came very close knew they could make it and it was just a matter of having it come together on the right day. Since then we roomed together in Beijing and had fun and our husbands are friends – they usually head out to a restaurant or bar while we are running. Our husbands were both good runners and her husband still keeps it up more than mine. Jon usually works from about 7:00 in the morning until 6:30 at night which makes for a tough day. When he gets home he sure doesn’t feel like running.
GCR:How is the rivalry in your household between your North Carolina Tar Heels and Jon’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons?
BRHe gets into it and I don’t really care so Jon and Quin have couch time together watching sports. Jon always swore when we were dating that he would never go on the Carolina blue track so there is still the rivalry there.
GCR:You finished in 27th place in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon. How was your Olympic racing experience and how tough was it racing in the heat?
BRI thought it was pretty rough. It wasn’t quite as hot as it could have been on our race day but the humidity was very high. I think the men had it the opposite. It’s not fun to be out there when you feel like you have your head in an oven. It was a bit chaotic as it started slow and there was a big pack. The USA water table was one of the last tables so everyone was trying to get their bottles, some got knocked over and bottles were being dropped to the ground. I was trying not to fall so it was quite an experience. I thought the runners would run more slowly in the heat, but most ran pretty solid. I ended up running much of the race by myself and then had a few runners to go after in the last 10k. It was the first time I ever finished a marathon where I ran into a stadium and finished with a lap around a track so that was pretty exciting. There were a lot of people along the course since it was the only event that was free for spectators. My family was there and I saw them a few times along the way. My mother-in-law made friends with some of the locals and got them to cheer my name when I ran past.
GCR:Did you attend the Olympic Opening or Closing Ceremonies, go to other Olympic sporting competitions and experience the sights of Beijing?
BRI didn’t go to the Opening Ceremonies as they were a couple days before my race and would have meant staying up all night and being on my feet which wouldn’t have been good. My compromise with myself was to make sure I stayed for the closing ceremonies. I will get to tell Quin years from now that ‘he’ also walked in the Closing Ceremonies. Afterward we did some sightseeing. I was stupid and decided to tour the Great Wall the day after the marathon as I hadn’t realized it was steps the whole way so I was a hurting puppy. I tried to walk as fast as I could so I could get to the end of the tour and sit back down. I made a point to stay afterward so I could relax.
GCR:Going back to the 2008 Olympic Trials Marathon, what was your pre-race strategy and did you execute your plan as anticipated?
BRThe plan was to be ready to race any way possible. It is hard when you go into a race and don’t know the other runners’ strategies. Somebody could take off and go fast or anything could happen. I was up for anything and my race plan was to be conservative since I had been having some hip and knee pain. I hung back and runners slowly dropped off the pace. I wanted to run consistently since my training hadn’t been going that well.
GCR:How did the format of the Olympic Marathon Trials on a multiple loop course affect you? Also, did you like racing in Boston, a city with such a rich marathon tradition?
BRBoth Olympic Trials I raced were multiple loop courses since the 2004 Trials in St. Louis was also on a loop course. I didn’t race the entire historic Boston marathon course so I can’t compare how that would be. I’m not crazy about loop courses. I much prefer a point-to-point race or one big course like in Chicago or Twin Cities as I feel like I’m getting someplace. I think everyone felt the Boston Trials course would run fast but there were two hairpin turns each lap and it was windy along the river and that slowed us down.
GCR:You ran strong at the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials in a small personal best of 2:30:32 but ended up one place short of punching an Olympic ticket. What was the difference that day in your inability to make the team versus your effort four years later?
BRIn 2004 I had the mentality that if I ran well I could win while in 2008 I knew I just had to run for the top three places. So it was a little stupidity in 2004. Also I have bad eyesight and couldn’t see my watch because of the angle of the sun. So early on I was running 5:08s which I shouldn’t have been doing. I did learn that for 2008 that third was as good as first at the Olympic Trials.
GCR:Since the 2004 Olympic Trials was only your second marathon, should you have been more conservative and stayed with the lead women rather than boldly taking the lead?
BRThere was a point around halfway when I thought, ‘Maybe I should slow down.’ But I decided not to and just kept on going. I was the fittest I’ve ever been for the 2004 Trials – just crazy fit – Jen Rhines passed me with about 400 meters to go so my fast early pace could have been the difference. Jen got a PR by over 10 minutes and had a great day, but also you have to factor in a bit of luck to have everything go right for you to make the team on a given day.
GCR:You won your first marathon, the 2003 Twin Cities Marathon, in 2:30:41. What led to such fast success and how different was it racing the marathon distance versus shorter race distances?
BRWhen I look back in some ways that first marathon was my easiest marathon in a way. I had done the training and was sort of scared as I was on the starting line. I had so much adrenaline as I faced the unknown and I didn’t know if I would finish or get cramps. For that race I was just ‘on.’ When I did strides before the race I felt like I had a hand pushing me. I knew it was going to be a good race. It turned out that I felt great and it seemed like I was jogging for 20 miles. It was one of those great days and hopefully there will be more of those days ahead.
GCR:In addition to representing the USA in 2011 at the World Cross Country Championships, you have raced to top 15 finishes at Worlds in 2005 and 2006. How important is it for a track athlete or road racer to build strength with cross country training and racing?
BRIt works in college as the runners who are strong in the fall are lighting it up on the track in the spring. Doing strength work in the fall doesn’t beat you up as much as the track. There is a correlation between cross country training and success on the roads and track that my coach and I both believe in. I feel like I do my best running when I am really strong and in great cross country shape. It seems to work for me that it is at a perfect time of the year. It’s disappointing for runners in the future that the World Cross Country Championships are going to be only every other year and so the fall focus and fun goal to work towards won’t be there every year.
GCR:You won the 2006 USA Cross Country Championships over eight kilometers. What are your memories of the tactics in that race and is it one of your most cherished victories?
BRMy main memory of that day is that it was freezing – I think it was about seven degrees and wasn’t the most fun cross country race I’ve ever done. It was a battle with Coleen de Reuck who always runs well in cross country. I recall being neck and neck with her and I had to make a decision whether I wanted to win or come in second place. I remember picking it up when we came out of the woods with about 800 meters left in the race. I felt great about the race and the entire weekend as the next day I came back and made the team in the 4k race
GCR:Your silver medal at the 2005 USA Championships 10,000 meters qualified you for the 2005 World Championships. How did it compare to earning a berth on an Olympic squad?
BRThe World Championships trip only lasted about a week so it was nicer as an Olympic Team member since we went for about three weeks including the training camp. For the Olympics we were able to spend more time with our teammates and to relax a little. On the 2005 track team I was preoccupied because I was training for the Chicago Marathon which was two months later so I was trying to get in my marathon training. I wasn’t as focused on the track as I should have been.
GCR:The most prestigious track meet in the U.S. is arguably the Penn Relays. What did it mean to you when you won the Penn Relays 5,000 meters in 2000 and were you pushed by anyone in that race?
BRThe Penn Relays was always a big meet when I was in college and it was a reward to race there after the ACC Conference meet. If we were good enough our coach would take us to the meet to run some relays or individual events. Post-collegiately there aren’t as many opportunities to race on the track so it was a good place for me to race. There wasn’t any competition for me that day so I ran by myself and got a personal best. My husband says that many of my PRs are because of my poor math skills as I often miscalculate my pace. This happened and I thought I was running slower so I picked up the pace earlier than I should have – but it was great as I got a huge PR. I was running to get the Olympic ‘A’ standard and it was exciting to be able to do it on my own.
GCR:You were a member of the 1999 Pan Am Games team and won a bronze medal in the 5,000 meters. What are some of the highlights from that competition?
BRIt was so early in my career that I didn’t know what to think of racing in that meet. I was in grad school and received a phone call asking me if I wanted to be on the team. I had a couple of days of break from classes at the time of the meet so I was psyched to go. I didn’t know what to expect as it was pretty crazy to fly up to Winnipeg, Canada by myself. It was also my first experience with all of the craziness before an international race since you warm up, sit and wait and then are picked up by a golf cart. At that meet I learned to go with the flow at international competitions.
GCR:While you competed for the University of North Carolina the Tar Heels won four straight ACC indoor and outdoor track championships from 1994 through 1997 and added the cross country title in 1994. In addition, you won the 1500 and 5000 meters your senior year. Compare and contrast winning individual and team titles since track is both an individual and team sport.
BRMy college career was weird because I started so far back. Initially I was one of the worst runners on the team. I went from not making the travelling squad as a freshman to making it and running okay as a sophomore and then I kept getting better and better. I knew I wanted to be a factor and to help the team. To do that you have to run at your best and it was great to contribute since I didn’t at all my first year. It was a highlight to win at the conference meet as I never thought I would be a conference champion or school record holder in the 1,500 meters. The 5,000 meters was sort of an afterthought to race as it was the only time I ever ran it in college. Track is a team sport and it was nice to score points for the team. Our team was pretty cocky as our women never lost at indoor or outdoor ACCs while I was there. It wasn’t because of me – we just had a great all-around team. It was a great way to go out my senior year with individual and team titles.
GCR:Speaking of North Carolina Tar Heels, what does it say that your 2008 Olympic teammates included three Fellow UNC runners, Alice Schmidt (800m); Erin Donahue (1500m) and Shalane Flanagan (5000 and 10,000m)?
BRI think we had the most representation of any university and we had a nice picture taken of us all. It is a testament to the North Carolina program. It shows the coaching is good and we weren’t getting pushed too hard and burned out. My coach, Joan Nesbitt, had me running the 1500 meters on the track and I didn’t get burned out like some runners who were racing a lot at 5k and 10k on the track.
GCR:At Forsyth Country Day High School you were All-State in cross country and track and won 11 of a possible 12 state championships at 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m. What combination of talent and determination led to such early success as a prep?
BRI think I just found my sport. I had played tennis and rode horses before. I started running and it just seemed to fit. I was a hard worker and I like that aspect of running where you get out of it what you give. Each year I did a bit more and learned more. Since I was in a small private school the competition wasn’t as tough which helped me to win. My college head coach said that when he was recruiting athletes he would recruit kids who were winning rather than a faster kid who was coming in third place as the kid who was winning would want to find a way to win again. That applies to me exactly as I like to win. In college I had to work my way up and post-collegiately it was the same – it was hard but I had that drive and determination to win. When you work hard for a victory you definitely cherish it.
GCR:You have been coached by Bob Sevene post collegiately, Joan Nesbitt at UNC and Doug Pierce at Forsyth Country Day (NC) High School. What did each of these coaches do to contribute to your success as a person and a racer?
BRI couldn’t have asked for a better high school coach than Doug Pierce. I was learning and he was too as I was his first serious runner. I loved it and we started on the journey together. He was very enthusiastic and would come to me before the races to give me my strategy. Then he would be yelling during the race and I could hear him from a mile away in the woods. At other times he would pop out from behind a tree and be cheering. So he made it fun initially, and that is what high school cross country should be. Even though I was running well he didn’t put the pressure on me. In college Joan Nesbitt coached me full time, we were more structured and that was great. Joan gave me intensity as she was still training and running with the guys. She would run so hard that sometimes she passed out. She was a great mentor and took me under her wing after I graduated to show me the ropes as not too many women were running after college. For about a year John Goodrich at Wake Forest worked with me as I had moved back home and he got me doing more miles and longer intervals that I didn’t think I could do. I found out that I responded well to more mileage. Then Bob Sevene sort of pulled it all together when I started working with him in 2000. He kept my career going and is the best I have found for a master plan, thinking of running seasons, segments of training, periodization and peaking. He knows I am interested in training so he will sit me down before a workout and explain why we are doing it. He is very good at explaining what we are doing and why.
GCR:Let’s talk about some elements of training. First, what base mileage did you do in high school, college and then when you transitioned to marathon training?
BRI probably didn’t do more than 25 miles in any week in high school and in college no more than 50 miles in a week. I thought that was enough. I spent the next couple years working my way up to 75 miles a week and stayed there for a while. I ran my first marathon off of 80-85 miles a week. I can’t handle high mileage – I’ll hear that someone is running 140 miles per week and there just isn’t any way that I can handle that. I focus more on quality and don’t get hung up on the numbers.
GCR:What were some of your favorite strength or speed sessions in cross country and track in high school, college and as a professional runner as you added road racing to the other two venues?
BRHigh school is so long ago that I can’t remember anything! We had this one field loop that was about 1,000 meters around that I loved running. It was a grass loop which I ran so many times that I could see every turn and hill in my mind. In college we did a lot of hills in the fall and there were some that were fun to run to out in the woods. We had a workout I liked where we would do some intervals on the track, then a tempo run, then a few more intervals on the track and another tempo run. My least favorite thing was long runs – I thought 90 minutes was torture! I like mile repeats because that number means a lot and they aren’t that hard when you get into a rhythm. I also like repeat 1,000 meters because they are a little bit faster. Sometimes Coach Sev will come to the track with three workouts and let me choose since they all accomplish the same thing. It’s usually a ladder of three to five miles of stuff. Sometimes we’ll start with a 2,000 meters and then come down the ladder while others we will start with a shorter repeat, move up and then come back down. The track workout I hate is 400s so if he really wants to torture me that is the one! It’s usually 12 comfortable 400s, but I can run the same pace for 800s so we might as well do them.
GCR:What do you feel is the importance of negative split sessions?
BRWe don’t usually do negative splits as I start out pretty fast and maintain. On road repeats I like to start fast so we usually begin on a downhill. Sometimes on the track I’ll get faster since we are coming down a ladder, but with longer marathon-type repeats we don’t really do gear-changing.
GCR:With your great success on the track, roads and in cross country, which is your favorite and why?
BRI usually love what I am doing at the time. I do miss the track. I find for me that once I went to the marathon it is hard to go back to the track and to race well. It’s hard to fit in the necessary training. I kind of wish I had had more time to pursue track times and may do that more after the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials depending on what happens.
GCR:The U.S. women’s marathon scene is stronger and deeper than ever with 20-somethings Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila and Amy Hastings and veterans Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and you along with newcomers at every turn. How tough will it be just to make the team for the 2012 London Olympics?
BRI think it’s going to be the fastest Olympic Trials marathon we’ve had. If we get good weather it’s going to be another ballgame than it was four years ago. I think there will be some surprises. It is more exciting to go into a race where we just don’t know as there are seven or eight women who could make the team. It’s just going to depend on who is ‘on’ and having a great day.
GCR:Do you expect a fast-paced race from early on or a strategic slower-paced race that results in a negative split for the second half as we have seen both ways in recent major marathons?
BRI just don’t know as there are certain athletes who need to run steady from the start to run a fast time. I think everyone will just run their own race plan. We know each other’s tendencies enough to know what may happen. I’m fortunate to have raced Olympic Trials both ways as in 2004 it was fast from the start while in 2008 it was more tactical. So I know that I can race both ways. Mentally it’s tougher to run tactically and to sit back and wait.
GCR:Many athletes who excel come from hard-working families where much is expected and their family offers great encouragement. How did your upbringing form your character and make you into the woman you are today?
BRMy parents always instilled in me that if I worked as hard as I could that I could reach my goals. My success had a lot to do with it as my parents were so supportive. They made it to every track and cross country meet they could even when I was competing in college and without their support I couldn’t have continued running competitively after college. The joke was that all of my friends wanted to run for ‘Team Phillips,’ (Blake’s maiden surname) since my parents were so supportive. They wanted me to just run full time after college, but I wanted to go to graduate school to be a physical therapist. In hindsight maybe I should have taken up their offer as it could have boosted my running career earlier.
GCR:When you look at your past progress, current training and what lies ahead in the future, do you think you are close to reaching your potential as a marathon racer and what are your goals for the next few years as your competitive years draw to a close unless you compete on the Masters level?
BRI keep hearing more talk about me being a ‘veteran’ or part of the ‘old guard’ when it seems like just yesterday that I was the ‘newbie.’ It is a little shocking when I go to races and don’t recognize half of my young competitors. I wouldn’t still be running unless I thought I could run faster than I ever have. My goal is to run some PRs in the marathon and in some other events. I don’t feel like my age is a factor at this point. Also, my coach considers me a ‘young runner’ because I’ve been a relatively low-mileage runner, haven’t abused my body and there is still room for improvement. There are also some things we can still add in training. As far as competing as a masters runner in the future – no way! It doesn’t seem appealing to me to know that I’ll be racing slower. I’ll always enjoy being outside and running on trails, but I don’t see myself wanting to compete at that level. My mindset is elite and fast so it isn’t the same.
GCR:Running is your sport, but it is also a job that only can last so long due to the limiting factors of aging. Have you given any thought to whether or how you would like to be involved in the sport once your competitive days have ended?
BRIf I ever coach it will be at the high school level where I can be involved with kids’ introduction to running and help give them enthusiasm, knowledge and a long-term joy of running. I don’t know how the college coaches do their jobs as there are so many rules. I don’t see myself as a television announcer but I wish we had better announcers on U.S. television. When I watch European meets they make it so exciting. Half of the reason track and field doesn’t get more popular in the U.S. is because the announcing is kind of boring. They could do so much better if they gave us information about all of the athletes racing instead of just one or two and quit cutting away from the race to show us something like one of the runners eating breakfast earlier that day. College announcing is better as they focus on team battles and the athletes rather than the outside things.
GCR:Are there any major lessons you have learned during your life from working to achieve academically and athletically, the discipline of running, your racing success and balancing motherhood with running that you would like to share with my readers?
BRStubborn is good. When I was growing up I kept hearing people say, ‘You are so stubborn.’ But now I respond, ‘thanks,’ as that is what helped me to achieve my goals. When you look at my collegiate running I was probably the least likely Olympian. But hard work can take you to places that you may not have realized you could go. When I talks to groups at schools I tell them to be stubborn and not let anyone tell them they can’t do something. There is a lot to be said for sticking to your goals and finding people who will help you along the way.
 Inside Stuff
Hobbies/InterestsRight now my main hobby is playing wherever that may be with Quin. I like reading books. I enjoy knitting and knit baby gifts. Another interest is photography and I usually have a camera in my hands
NicknamesMy husband calls me ‘Stinky’ because I’m always walking around in smelly running clothes
Favorite moviesA recent movie is ‘Love, Actually’ and a classic is ‘The Sound of Music’
Favorite TV showsWe usually watch ‘Suits,’ ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ ‘Bones’ and ‘NCIS’
Favorite musicDire Straits is my favorite band
Favorite booksFrom high school – ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and ‘The Odyssey.’ I just finished reading ‘Empire of the Moon’ which was a good book. I like Laura Hillebrand’s, ‘Sea Biscuit,’ and am getting ready to start reading her next book, ‘Unbroken,’ which everyone says is great
First carHonda Accord
Current carHonda CRV - maybe they should be my car sponsor!
First JobI was a bad Pizza Hut waitress. I’m not into details so I was not good at following up and when it got busy I just got flustered
Family, Children and SiblingsMy mom and dad have both remarried. My sister lives in Los Angeles – she is a non-runner and is very artistic
PetsWe had horses, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, parakeets and ducks – pretty much everything – when I was growing up. We would catch and rescue baby ducks from a nearby pond because turtles would try to eat them. We raised the ducks in our back yard and, when they were big enough, we put them back in their pond
Favorite breakfastFrozen waffles – Quin and I have them for breakfast every day
Favorite mealWaffles are also probably my favorite meal as I’ve been known to have waffles for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Favorite beveragesGatorade and chocolate milk – separate, not mixed together!
First running memoryRunning the cross country course in P.E. class. It was a mile around the school and through the woods and I was obsessed with running it faster every time we ran it
Running heroesNot too many, but if I had to pick one it would be my first introduction to an elite runner - my college coach, Joan Nesbitt
Greatest running momentsMaking the Olympic team in 2008 has to be the top moment for me. My second favorite is the 10,000 meters at U.S. nationals when I made the World Championship team
Worst running momentI don’t know if it is one moment but the first year to almost two years after having Quin were tough as there were plenty of bad races
Childhood dreamsNothing about running. I always wanted to be happy and to have a family
Funny memoriesThere are many with Quin, but generally we have incidents when we are learning to use the toilet. Usually it involves a lot of pee and getting squirted. During high school cross country my very enthusiastic coach was yelling encouragement to a runner on our boys’ team who was looking downward as he was tiring in the final stretch. The runner wasn’t looking up, ran into a tree and went down. He got up and started running in the wrong direction and my coach finally got him turned around and pointed him to the finish line
Embarrassing momentI had been stopping when nature called when I was running along on a beach trail that I run on regularly. What I didn’t know is that there were cameras stationed along the path. My coach is involved with some of the city’s parks and said that they see me run by on the monitors all of the time. That was embarrassing when I realized the cameras were there
Favorite places to travelI like many of the seaport towns in New England and the beaches in North Carolina – once we visited all of the North Carolina lighthouses