|Photo by Gene Niemi|
Down the Backstretch: Winning a National Championships is always nice. Did you go into USATF Club Nationals confident, hopeful, with or without expectations in regards to the team championship?
Meghan Peyton: We went into the Championships confident that we could win. We knew that there would be some other strong teams like the Boulder team, but thought that as long as we all had solid races that we could achieve our goal of winning the national title.
DtB: Once you got to Lexington and saw the mud, aside from thinking: “This is real cross country,” did the conditions change any of the plans, expectations going into the race?
MP: Personally, the mud didn't change any of my own expectations. The mud was a factor for every runner out there. It being a championship race, I knew that it would take a strong race to place in the top six(she finished fourth), which is what it took to qualify for the USA team going to Scotland.
DtB: Seems like the team members had different approaches to the race: Jamie took off with the leaders, you and Ladia sort of worked together, McKenzie was trailing behind you two(could she see where you two were or was the course too hilly and twisty for her to see runners ahead of her), and Heather took a tumble. When did Heather go down and did any of you see or know that Heather fell during the race? Give us something of a summary of how things unfolded.
MP: The race got out fast, the first mile being the most flat section on the course -- we went through the mile at 5:11 pace. I felt that it was a good pace, putting me near the front but I still felt in control. For the next mile and a half it was just grinding away at the hills and mud.
There was a little pack of us behind the lead pack pushing each other. We could see the leaders the entire time. At about 2.5 miles the pack started coming back to us, Jamie (Cheever) with them. I knew we would catch up. So on the last downhill before the long climb to the finish I pushed hard so that I would catch up with Jamie. I knew she needed some support because she was in no-woman's land, which is a hard place to be when you are hurting.
As I caught her I cheered for her telling her "You can do it, come on Jamie". We all needed to finish strong, and I think it was pretty admirable how she had put it out there on the line and, even once her early fast pace caught up to her, Jamie still finished really strong. None of us knew that Heather had fallen until we had all crossed the finish line.
DtB: When did you know you won the team title? Was there a big celebration or a more retrained one?
MP: When we all finished the race we didn't know if we had won or not for about half an hour or so. We knew that Boulder would be our biggest competition, and they had taken first and second place. We didn't know where their other runners had finished, but we did know that Heather had taken an unfortunate spill in the mud, but had the strength to get up and keep running for the team.
So we waited anxiously for about 30 minutes until they finally posted the results. When the results went up, Lance Elliott (one of our team's board members who was traveling with us and also raced) came running back to our van with the results and said: "We Won!". We were all excited, but Heather was excited most of all...jumping up and down with relief.
DtB: Are the three of you that qualified planning on taking the trip to Scotland in January? Did Jamie or McKenzie get spots on the US team because others in front of them aren’t going?
MP: Yes, Ladia, Jon (Peterson, fifth in the men's race), and I are going to Scotland for sure. We think that Jamie(who was seventh) will also likely make the team based on other competitors who said that they will not go, and because she also did well at this year's USA Open Cross Country Championships which took place in February.
DtB: You’ve had a busy life this Fall with school, helping out with the Augsburg team, and your own running. How do you juggle all those “balls in the air?”
MP: Very carefully! I don't need any of them falling to the ground. I think the only reason that I am able to juggle all of them is because I have good support groups in each area of my life, and because I'm a planner. I always try and stay ahead of the curve. I did have to start using a paper planner again this year (which I have not done since I graduated college) because my life is going in a lot of different directions. No day is the same as the day before. A busy life keeps things interesting.
DtB: Was 2012 a productive year? Did you achieve any or all of the goals you set—if you set any—at the beginning of the year?
MP: 2012 for me was a learning year. Anyone who looks at my results from the past year could probably safely assume that I unfortunately didn't achieve the goals that I had set at the beginning of it. From 2008-2011 I had steadily improved -- moving from consistently placing in the teens in races and working my way up to finishing in the top seven at most National Championships.
As with most people in this sport, I had big aspirations for 2012. However, some inexperience with the marathon, and also finding out that I had low B12 and low Iron (both essential for energy production) put those goals out of reach this year. But, I haven't given up. I still have the same big goals -- I've just had to push them out a year or two.
DtB: What are the plans, goals of 2013?
MP: My goals for 2013 are to, first of all, continue to improve as an athlete and person. Secondly, I want to represent our country at the World Cross Country Championships, and also want to compete at the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In the Fall I plan on competing in a marathon -- maybe one that is near and dear to us all--Twin Cities in Motion's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.