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Track & Field

Track & Field (238)

By Mark Winitz
 
Both exultation and hard-luck disappointment were experienced by top California athletes on the fourth day of competition at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Two Golden State competitors earned gold and another earned silver in finals events, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team headed to Brazil later this summer: Cyrus Hostetler (Chula Vista, CA/Unattached) won the men’s javelin throw final. Kate Grace (Sacramento, CA/NorCal Distance Project/Oiselle) topped a hard-fought women’s 800m final where two top U.S. contenders from California were accidentally knocked out of contention. Resurgent Boris Berian (Rancho Cucamonga, CA/New Balance) placed second in the men’s 800m final. All are on their way to Rio for their very first Olympic Games.
 
Hostetler waited until the fifth round of a compelling men’s javelin competition to unleash a 273-1/83.24m throw which his competitors couldn’t match. It is his first U.S. Championship win.
 
“I knew that I could throw far if I came out here and waited just a little bit longer in the competition for a big throw. The second I hit it I knew it was going to go far. When it landed and I took the lead I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been training for eight years for this moment. I couldn’t ask for a better day. Representing USA…I wouldn’t want to represent any other country. I love USA. I’ve been to a lot of other places and I just love what we have here.”
 
Hostetler grew up in Oregon and attended Lane Community College, the University of Oregon, and then joined the Oregon Track Club. Six years ago he moved to the USOC Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista to train in warmer weather with a group of talented, like-minded athletes. 
 
“I had great benefits at the training center. Free housing, free food, free medical,” said Hostetler. But they let me go after one year. USATF repeatedly told me that I had no chance of winning a medal, so they told me to leave the center. But I said ‘I’m going to do everything I can to make the Olympic team. I’m not leaving. I’m going to continue training here.’ So, I pay monthly to stay there and train.”
 
Nike picked up Hostetler several weeks ago with a sponsorship arrangement. 
 
In the women’s 800m final, a mishap occurred that obliterated the Olympic Games dream for two Californians who were pre-race favorites and helped jettison another California contender to Trials gold. A tightly-woven group rounded the Bowerman Curve—the final turn of the two-lap race—and approached the finish line. Brenda Martinez (Rancho Cucamonga, CA/Big Bear TC)—who was kicking home in the pack and and passing competitors—was clipped from behind, stumbled and inadvertently pushed Alysia Montano (Berkeley, CA/NYAC) who had led much of the race. Montano fell to the track. Meanwhile, Kate Grace, who was running in the inside lane a few meters behind the collision, avoided trouble and sprinted home to a 1:59.10 victory. Martinez ended up 7th in 2:06.63 while Montano, crying and falling several more times, bravely finished last in 3:06.77.
 
Immediately following the race, USATF officials reviewed a videotape and ruled “incidental contact” two hours later when the results were made official.
 
Notwithstanding the incident, how did Kate Grace emerge as the Olympic Trials champion?
 
“The Olympic dream was always a small fire inside but it never was a reality until recently. But as I ran races, I continued to gain confidence,” said Grace who attended Marlborough High School in Los Angeles and was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American for Yale in track and field and cross country.
 
A year ago Grace drove to Sacramento from Oregon where she had been training with the Oiselle elite training group and began training with the NorCal Distance Project after calling coach Drew Wartenburg and requesting an invitation to join the team.
 
“I was pretty forward about asking to join the team,” Grace said. “I’m not usually that forward. And it’s been an incredible year. Drew is an incredible coach. We’ve had a ball this year. NorCal Distance Project is a great group and their name will only continue to grow. I thrive under a structured project and Drew’s program is very structured. Kim Conley and Lauren Wallace are incredible training partners. Now I look forward to races because I know I’ve put in my work in practice.”
 
“It’s been a long road in a way,” Grace explained about her progression to an Olympian. “I’ve never won a U.S. title. But I had confidence in my ability despite the fact that I haven’t been here before. And I’ve been training so well with Drew and the NorCal Distance Project that I knew that it could come together today. I knew if I could run my race I could make the team. It took me a while to develop but people believed in me and I’m so incredibly grateful to them.”
 
In the men’s 800m final, Berian controlled the race from the beginning and seemed surprised when 2016 NCAA Division I 1,500m champion Clayton Murphy passed him with yards to go.  Murphy proceeded to a 1:44.76 victory. Berian followed closely for the runner-up slot in 1:44.92.
 
When asked how he’s going to prepare for his trip to Rio Berian briefly said, “I’m going to stay calm and stay focused. I believe in my coach.”
 
Berian—whose story about rapid emergence from relative obscurity to one of the world’s top 800m runners is well documented—is guided by Big Bear Track Club coach Carlos Handler, the husband of Brenda Martinez.
 
Mark Winitz has written about running and track and field, organized programs for runners, and served as a consultant and publicist for road races for almost 40 years. He is a longtime activist within USA Track & Field and is a certified USATF Master Level Official/Referee. He also assists road racing events through his company, Win It!z Sports Public Relations and Promotions in Los Altos, CA.
By Mark Winitz
 
Three Californians qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team on the third day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. before 22,424 fans, the third largest attendance in Hayward Field history. Emotions ran high on a warm, sunny, but sometimes windy day as event finals dominated the slate of the 10-day Trials.
 
For 3-time Olympian and 3-time Olympic medalist Allyson Felix (Los Angeles, Calif./Nike) the journey to Rio hasn't been as smooth as she and her coach, Bobby Kersee, would like. Two months ago Felix injured her right ankle doing a medicine ball exercise in the gym and has been re-habbing it since then. Nevertheless, Felix came through with a strong kick coming off the last turn in the women's 400-meter final, topping the strong women's field in 49.68 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year. Phyllis Francis (Queens, NY/Nike) placed second in 49.94 and Natasha Hastings (Brooklyn, NY/Under Armour/NYAC) was third in 50.17.
 
"Thankfully, [coach] Bobby Kersee stepped in with a game plan right after I was injured and I started working on it," Felix said. "My family, Bobby, and Jackie [Joyner-Kersee] didn't let me go home alone. They've had me icing every 20 minutes and they were constantly with me. Physical therapy once a day. It was just a team of people that didn't let me go through this alone. And Bobby definitely just believed in me, more than I believed in myself."
 
"It's getting stronger right now but it's really tender," Felix commented about her injured ankle after the race. "This race was different because I came in not really feeling like myself. Lots of times I've come in and I've seen the preparation. I've had preparation this year but it's been different with the injury. I definitely haven't been 100 percent, but now I feel like I have more time, and can get healthier and put it together."
 
Next Felix will compete in the 200m competition at the Trials, an event in which she is a 6-time U.S. outdoor champion. The first rounds of the women's 200m begin on Friday, July 8 with the final on July 10.
 
"Now, I'm just going to get some rest, go at it again, and give it my all," Felix said as she resets her focus on the 200m at the Trials. "My goal was just to make the team. It [the 400m] was definitely the most adversity, and what I've had to overcome the most. As far as the 200, I'm just going to go out there and try to get it done."
 
In a windy men's long jump final Jeffrey Henderson (Chula Vista, CA/adidas) secured his ticket to Rio by topping a strong men's field in one of the greatest long jump shows in track and field history. The event featured seven 27-foot or better efforts (although five were assisted by an illegal wind). Henderson claimed the victory with a windy 8.59m/28-2.25 on his third jump, a personal best. His previous best of 8.54m/28-0 was recorded at the 2015 Pan American Games where he was the gold medalist.
 
Henderson was an NCAA Division II long jump titlist at Stillman College in Alabama and moved to the San Diego area after graduation in 2013 where he resides and trains today at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista under coach Al Joyner.
 
"The wind was hectic. The competition was really good and I'm just glad that I came out on top," Henderson said after the competition. "My expectations for Rio are to just keep doing what I've been doing. Easting and training right. Not stepping too late on the runway. Nothing really changes."
 
Henderson dedicated his win to his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's.
 
"She's had it since I got out of high school," Henderson said. "I don't know whether she'll be aware of what I've done, but I'll be glad to go home and let her know how much I love her."
 
In the men's 400m final, Gil Roberts (Los Angeles/Nike) made the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field squad by placing second to 2008 Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt (Portsmouth, VA). Roberts clocked a 44.73 behind Merritt's world-leading 43.97 effort. Roberts was a member of the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the men's 4×400 meter relay at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Now, he is a soon-to-be Olympian.
 
"I'm ecstatic about making my first Olympic team," Roberts said. "I put everything into this season and I've been healthy, I knew coming into this that I was going to be on the team. I went for it. I never run for second or for third. I always run to win so that's what I did."
 
Roberts said he'll work on tweaking his form prior to the Games.
 
"I'll fix some things when I get back to training and talk to my coach, John Smith, about the things I need to fix. And, hopefully, I'll execute in Rio. I need to work on standing more upright, executing my arms a little better, and opening up my stride. John is a coach like no other. He has an adaptive system and he and I are understanding each other more and more so I'm buying in to everything he's saying."
 
Roberts attended Texas Tech University, and moved to LA in 2012 before embarking on his first post-collegiate season in 2013.
 
Two Californians emerged as winners in the special Masters 1,500m exhibition races: Neville Davey, age, 41, (Palo Alto, CA/West Valley TC) topped the Masters men's competition in 3:57.67 and Kris Paaso, 45, (Menlo Park, CA/Strava TC) easily topped the women's Masters in a wire-to-wire 4:36.34 victory.
 
"It was a windy day and a bad day to be tall," a tall Paaso said. "I thought that if I wanted a decent time and a decent race I should go early and I've felt strong enough in my training to try it."
 
Mark Winitz has written about running and track and field, organized programs for runners, and served as a consultant and publicist for road races for almost 40 years. He is a longtime activist within USA Track & Field and is a certified USATF Master Level Official/Referee. He also assists road racing events through his company, Win It!z Sports Public Relations and Promotions in Los Altos, CA.
By Mark Winitz — In 2012, Whitney Ashley was ready to hang up her competition shoes in the sport of track and field and move on to pursue a Masters degree in Sports Administration. Now, four years later, aided by fortuitous events and hard work, Ashley is a U.S. national champion in the women's discus throw headed to Rio as a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field team.
 
"This is exciting and overwhelming and I'm kind of speechless at the same time. It's all come together four years later for me and it's really exciting," Ashley said after topping a field of 12 women on Day 2 of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials before 21, 866 onlookers at historic Hayward Field on a warm day in Eugene, Ore.
 
Ashley (Moreno Valley, CA/Nike) secured her victory by recording a best throw of 204 feet, 3 inches (62.25 meters) in the women's discus throw final, over 6 feet longer than runner-up Shelbi Vaughan's (College Station, Tex./Texas A&M) 197-9/60.28m.
 
Ashley graduated from San Diego State University in 2012 owning school records in the discus, hammer and indoor shot. She won the 2012 NCAA discus title. Despite her successes, Ashley left college but soon abandoned aspirations of pursuing a post-collegiate athletics career. That same summer, she competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials, and finished a disappointing 22nd in qualifying. She thought she was done as an athlete.
 
Her plans changed after meeting Coach Art Vanegas that same year--one of the world's finest throws coaches. Vanegas saw Ashley's untapped potential and offered to coach her at the USOC Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. Ashley went home and thought about it for several months before accepting Vanegas' proposal.
 
Now, Ashley takes pride in the fact that she has made every U.S. national team that she's set her eyes on. In 2013, she made the squad for the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow but didn't progress beyond the qualifying rounds. In 2015, competing at World Outdoors in Beijing, she placed 9th in the final. Last year she also set her personal best in the discus, a 212-7/64.80m toss in Claremont, Calif., the 9th longest throw in the world in 2015.
 
"I never thought I could be Olympic Trials champion some day," Ashley admitted about her Olympic Trials win. "But last year was the first year that I thought I was capable of getting it, and then I got passed in the sixth round (at the 2015 U.S. Championships) and I thought you know, it's just not meant for me. But it's okay. I'll just continue to have goals and be in the top three. And, that was my goal today--not to think about winning. Just to make this team."
 
She continued: "I haven't been beat by an American this year, and I loved coming into this meet with that knowledge and that confidence that I can continue to beat top Americans. I think today is definitely a turning point. I just need to keep training and keep getting better so I can make a name for myself and be dominant in this event."
 
What has Ashley experienced over the past year that has turned her into an Olympic Trials champion? She attributes it to gaining confidence in Coach Vanegas' training system and the U.S. system for helping develop athletes and selecting them for international teams. Plus, more time in the weight room has given her an added boost.
 
"I'm really one of the weakest athletes in my training group (at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista) and I really had to take hold of a weight lifting program because weights are a real contributing factor to throwing the discus really far," Ashley said. "So, getting stronger, continuing to build my confidence, and training at a high, intense level has definitely helped. I'm usually a person who likes to practice and sort of feel things out. But I've had to learn how to compete in practice so when I get to meets it feels the same."
 
And, what are Ashley's expectations for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio?
"To make the final. I think that's very realistic for me," she said. "Potentially to get top five. I think a medal would have to be a huge PR for me. The Europeans are very dominant in this event. But everyone can have a bad day. And, as long as I keep building I can surprise people."
 
Additional Highlights Among Californians on Day 2 of the Trials:
• In the women's long jump final, Brittney Reese (Chula Vista, Calif./Nike) produced the longest leap in the world since 2004 with a stunning 7.31m/23-11.75 in the fourth round. Reese, the 2012 Olympic Games gold medalist, also broke the Olympic Trials meet record. The previous meet record of 7.22m/23-8-0.25 was set by Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988.
 
• In the women's 10,000m final, 2012 Olympian Kim Conley (West Sacramento, CA/New Balance) was an unfortunate DNF. Native Californian Jordan Hasay, now living in Oregon and competing for the Nike Oregon Project under coach Alberto Salazar, finished 9th in 32:43.
 
Conley was stepped on from behind midway through the race after running among the leaders early, and her shoe came partially off.
 
"I had no choice but to to stop and put it back on before trying to make a controlled push back to the lead pack," Conley said. "Around the 5-mile point I realized the gap was too far too close and decided the best course of action was to stop racing and save myself for the 5,000m. My body feels fine and I'm looking ahead to it."
 
Conley will compete in the women's 5,000m preliminary at the Trials on Friday, July 7.
 
• 2012 Olympic 200m gold medalist Allyson Felix (Los Angeles/Nike) advanced to the finals of the women's 400m with a 50.31 effort in the semis, the third fastest qualifier. (Yes, she's also entered in the 200m where the first round begins on Friday, July 8.)
 
• 800m standouts Boris Berian and Brenda Martinez of Rancho Cucamonga, CA both advanced from the semis to their respective men's and women's 800 finals. Martinez placed first in her semi in 1:59.64 while Berian did the same in his with a 1:45.72 effort.
 
• In the preliminary rounds of the women's 100m, 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Champion Jenna Prandini (Clovis, CA/Puma) had the fastest qualifying time going into the July 3 semifinals, turning in a 10.81. And, in the preliminary rounds of the men's long jump, Jeffrey Henderson (Chula Vista, CA/Adidas) notched the longest jump with a 8.22m/26-11.75.
 
Mark Winitz has written about running and track and field, organized programs for runners, and served as a consultant and publicist for road races for almost 40 years. He is a longtime activist within USA Track & Field and is a certified USATF Master Level Official/Referee. He also assists road racing events through his company, Win It!z Sports Public Relations and Promotions in Los Altos, CA.
Sunday, 03 July 2016 20:39

2016 USA Olympic Trials - Day Two Video

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2016 USA Olympic Trials - Day Two Video

Sunday, 03 July 2016 17:53

Image Gallery: 2016 US Olympic Trials Day 2

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Image Gallery: 2016 US Olympic Trials Day 2

By Mark Winitz
 
In front of 20,987 fans on Day One of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, OR, Californians fared well in their bids to make the U.S. Olympic track and field squad headed to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games.
 
In the men’s shot put final, World champion Joe Kovacs (Nazareth, PA who trains in Chula Vista, CA/Nike)) sealed his spot on the Rio squad with a clutch 21.95m/72-0.25 throw in the final stanza to take second place behind winner Ryan Crouser (Boring, OR) who became the latest American to top 22 meters, with his 22.11/72-6.5.
 
Big Bear Track Club teammates Boris Berian and Brenda Martinez of Rancho Cucamonga, CA both progressed from their initial rounds of their respective 800m events to the semi-finals. Martinez won Heat 2 of five women’s 800m preliminaries in 2:00.85 while Berian won his men’s Heat 2 in 1:46.03, the fastest men’s 800m time of the day. Alysia Montano (Berkeley, CA/ASICS/NYAC) recorded the second-fastest women’s 800m time of the day with a second place 2:00.56 in Heat 1 behind Molly Ludlow’s winning 2:00.30, also advancing to the semis. 
 
“My confidence level was kind of neutral coming into the Trials,” said Berian, the 2016 World Indoor 800-meter champion who settled a lawsuit regarding his sponsorship agreement with Nike just prior to the Trials and was wearing a pair of new New Balance shoes. “You’ve got some great competition out here and you can’t really let off too much. You can’t count anybody out.” 
 
Martinez commented: “We saw the times after the first heat, so we knew the kind of time we needed to hit to be safe. I didn’t want to race to just be in the top few, but wanted to race to win. I know my strengths pretty well, and I believe I can cover the athletes pretty well. I was pretty confident coming in. I’ve done this so many times it doesn’t scare me, but I’ve trained harder knowing the depth of this field.”
 
2012 Olympian Duane Solomon (Lompoc, CA) got caught in a slow opening men’s heat and finished fourth in 1:48.71, missing out on a spot in the semifinals.
 
In women’s discus throw qualifying, Whitney Ashley (Moreno Valley, CA/Nike) was the top automatic qualifier Friday, tossing 61.1m/200-8 on her first attempt to go one-and-done on the day. Just behind her was Beijing Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton (San Luis Obispo, CA/Nike) with a best throw of 60.79m/199-5. Rachel Varner (Bakersfield, CA/Unatt) also progressed to the final with a 58.81m/192-11 6th place qualifier. Liz Podominick (Chula Vista, CA/Unatt) also progressed with a 55.7m/182-1.
 
Windy conditions plagued the field in the women’s long jump, but reigning Olympic champion Brittney Reese (Inglewood, CA/Nike) wasted no time in nabbing the top automatic qualifying mark for the next day’s final, riding a 2.7 mps breeze to a 7.01m/23-0 on her first attempt. Whitney Gipson (Chula Vista, CA./Unatt) also qualified for the final with a 6.65m/21-10, the sixth longest prelims jump of the day.
 
Diego Estrada (Salinas, CA/ASICS) came into the men’s 10,000m final with the second fastest qualifying time, 27:30, behind Galen Rupp’s 27:08. Estrada, however, stepped off the track midway through the race, recording a DNF, as Rupp made history as he won his eighth consecutive USATF 10,000m title in 27:55.
 
On Thursday John Nunn (U.S. Army, Bonsall, CA) won the Trials men’s 20K Race Walk conducted in Salem, OR in 1 hour, 25 minutes, and 36 seconds. Earlier this year, Nunn also won the Trials 50K Race Walk, qualifying him to complete for his third U.S. Olympic team. Nunn competed in the 50K event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, as well as in the 20K at the 2004 Games in Athens, and will do so, again, in Rio. Nick Christie, 24, (Unatt, El Cajon, CA), who is coached by two-time Olympian Tim Seaman, finished second in 1:27:28, making his first Olympic team. Emmanuel Corvera (Unatt, San Diego, CA) was fourth in 1:30:31.
 
In the women’s 20K Race Walk, Miranda Melville (San Diego, CA) and Katie Burnett (El Cajon, CA) finished second and third, in 1:34:11 and 1:41:12, respectively, making the women’s team headed for Rio.
 
The Opening Ceremony on Day 1 of the Trials featured a parade on the track of past U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials and Olympic Games star performers.
 
 
MARK WINITZ has written about running and track and field, organized programs for runners, and served as a consultant and publicist for road races for almost 40 years. He is a longtime activist within USA Track & Field and is a certified USATF Master Level Official/Referee. He also assists road racing events through his company, Win It!z Sports Public Relations and Promotions in Los Altos, CA.
Saturday, 02 July 2016 18:25

Image Gallery: 2016 US Olympic Trials Day 1

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Image Gallery: 2016 US Olympic Trials Day 1

Mark Cullen wrote for us in Beijing in 2015. Here is his first piece of the Olympic Trials for RunBlogRun, on the men's and women's 20k race walks. Mark has a superb blog at www.trackerati.com.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field will be broadcast live from Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon Friday, July 1 through Sunday, July 10 via NBC and it’s family of networks. Check local listings for TV channel assignment.

By Cait Chock
Tara Welling is right back chasing her Olympic Dream. Distance runners are often accustomed to forcing their mind to supersede what the body is saying, but last spring Welling could no longer ignore the physical. After a torn hamstring, Welling was at peace with veering from one dream and set out on a search for another.
 
Until, the itch came back. Living in Portland, Oregon and married to a competitive runner, many of Welling's friends were runners and after a three month layoff, her hamstring fully healed, she partook in what had been her passion for so many years. She went for a run.
 
Tentatively at first, she went in with no expectations, no definitive plan, nothing more than being out doing something she loved with people she loved being around. Keeping up with fast friends and with an inborn goal-oriented drive, Welling found herself curious. Could she get back in racing shape? How fast could she be? Had she really, truly, given up her dream or had she just needed a reminder that injuries don't last forever? Yes, very, and a reminder is all it takes.
 
Welling started hitting the workouts from Scott Guerro, her Loyola Marymount College coach, and in time caught the eye of Jonathon Marcus. Marcus was now living his dream, spearheading a highly competitive racing team unlike any other. The concept for which was something he had been working towards for years: a means to unite the incredible amount of unsponsored talent across the greater Portland area. Talent that came from individuals balancing training between school, work, and family. He dreamt of a set-up that saw their 'outside life' parameters not as obstacles, but rather, as assets. Marcus's highly individualized training plans work around each of his athletes' other commitments and spins the traditional training-focused grind to this: creating a life outside of the track makes you better on the track. From balance comes better performance. A 'simple theory' often preached but effectively pulling it off is a far cry from easy.
 
Marcus had, High Performance West, and Welling's renewed drive to race couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Even still in its infancy stages, HPW had already raised eyebrows and anyone in the 'know' knew it would be something big. Welling joined instantly recognizable names like Nicole Blood, Julia Webb, McKayla Fricker, and Jen Bergman among others.
 
"HPW and Marcus have helped me come back to the sport because it is a low stress environment and there isn't much emphasis on every single workout," shares Welling. "We always keep the big picture in mind and don't let one workout define the shape we are in." In addition to running, Welling works part time as a real estate broker's assistant and is currently working on her real estate license.
 
Thanks to the perspective brought from injuries, Welling also has learned there are times when you need to quiet the mind's urge to grind and tune into the body. "Since coming back, Marcus has been great in letting me have a voice in my training and listening to the feedback I give him on a daily basis. When writing a workout it is sometimes a back-and-forth process between him and I." In the end, Marcus has the final ruling, but both coach and athlete take each workout with a high degree of flexibility, which could mean breaking up the intervals or using progressive runs.
 
Stepping to that first starting line came with some nerves and a necessary degree of rust-busting. "The first few races after coming back to the sport were pretty hard for me, but it was also a time when I was truly enjoying what I was doing, so it was bittersweet." Competitive by nature, and knowing she wasn't at the fitness level she had been accustomed to racing at, it took both courage and the support of her team to put herself out there. "I remember a few times after races calling Marcus and saying I was never going to be able to run fast again or set PR's, but he has unending faith that he is able to instill in athletes. I don't know how he does it, but it works and I think my teammates would agree."
 
As races and times progressed, rightfully so did her confidence, PR's have a way of doing that. Welling was back chasing that Olympic Dream at full force, "My only goal for the Trials is to make the team." A goal that she, Coach Marcus, and all her teammates firmly stand behind.
 
As we approach the Trials, Welling has dropped her mileage down to 85 from the usual 100 miles per week, "I have backed off the miles a bit now because we are more focused on running fast." Placing 10th at the Bolder Boulder this past Memorial Day, Welling had come directly from a month of altitude training camp in Flagstaff. "I love putting in the high mileage and feeling exhausted from training everyday, but I always have sub-par workouts at altitude and find myself eager to race."
 
Welling admits she craves the anticipation and excitement of a race atmosphere between large blocks of training. "I know that a race will give me a better workout then doing what is assigned on paper because I will have the extra endorphins from a race atmosphere. I had higher expectations at Bolder, but overall I wasn't too displeased." The race was made even more special having grown up an 'Air Force Kid'; Welling's father, grandfather, uncles, and aunts all serve. "To run into the stadium with everyone chanting USA just gives you chills. I loved the camaraderie amongst the girls and being able to race for something greater than yourself."
 
With those Marcus prescribed Wednesday and Saturday workouts, Welling does her long run on Sunday (15-18 miles) and a mid-week medium long run of 14 miles. She doesn't have a staple workout for the simple reason that Marcus doesn't want his athletes to get overly focused on looking back and comparing their times. Instead, Marcus is a master of ingenuity and some of Welling's favorite workouts are mile repeats and long runs with the last 7-10 miles progressively faster.
 
With all eyes on the Trials, "I will have done all the preparation needed, so I am not worried about what the finishing time is. After the Trials, and hopefully Olympics, I will turn my focus back to the roads and hopefully run another half marathon with the goal of getting under 1:10:25."
 
Back chasing her dream, she's enjoying every step.
 
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Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004 and previously ran for Nike. A freelance writer and artist, you can see more of her work on her website and Instagram @caitchock.
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