|Linda Keller sprinting toward the finish at the 2012|
NCAA DII Central Region Meet at St. Olaf.
Photo by Jim Ferstle
Linda Keller sort of disappeared from the running scene at the end of the 2012 cross country season. Until the NCAA DII Championships that year the Minnesota Morris senior had been undefeated and was hoping to improve on her best finish at the championships in 2011(seventh), possibly even contend for the title. Instead she finished an exhausted 18th and began to search for answers why. Below she talks about what she found out and why she's back for the track season this Winter and Spring.
Down the Backstretch: The last time we talked you were thinking about whether of not to try to get to Nationals in indoor track, but all that sort of went out the window in December of 2012. What happened and how did you deal with it?
Linda Keller: After the National meet, I was feeling super exhausted and I assumed it was from stress and being fatigued from racing. A few days later, I was feeling ill and still exhausted. It wasn't until early December, the week before my finals, that I was having some discomfort in my abdomen that I decided to go to the hospital.
That was when I was informed that I had mono and had it for quite a bit. After informing my family and Coach Jeremy (Karger Gatsow) about it, Coach and I talked about my options for the Spring and the following year. We decided that I should take the spring off to rest and get fully healthy and the following year compete since I was going to be around regardless to finish up my degree. So far, it's been proving to be a good decision.
DtB: You still had academic work on your elementary education degree, but no eligibility left on cross country. When did you get back to running? Did you miss it?
LK: I was starting some light running around January(21013) and the goal was to slowly work into mileage. It was hard to be motivated to run again after adjusting to a month of rest. That was a big challenge for me because I'm use to running with teammates and talking with them on easy runs as well as having a running routine.
In the fall, I started running with the team again when my schedule allowed me to. By December, I was able to show up to practice with the team. After running by myself so much, it was nice being with the team again.
DtB: You seem to be starting off running shorter distances is that to ease you back into competition or are you going to become a sprinter now?
LK: I don't think I'm quite capable to be a sprinter. The shorter distances are helping me build up my speed again since it's been awhile since I raced.
DtB: How long did you have to take off for the mono? Has it had any lingering effects or do you feel “normal” again?
LK: I took about a month off from mono. There was no specific amount of time I had to take off. Coach had me monitor my heart rate to make sure it was "normal" before I started training again since it was high even though I would be sitting down. I don't think it's had any lingering effects on me. I feel like me again, just a bit out of shape.
DtB: Has the experience taught you anything new or is it just one of those hurdles in life you have to jump?
I think this was a hurdle I had to jump over. Before I knew I had mono, I felt awful about how the Cross Country season ended. I wanted to a lot better at Nationals, place and time wise, than the previous year but that didn't happen. Now knowing that I had mono during that time, I feel impressed with how I did considering.
DtB: What are the goals for the indoor and outdoor season?
LK: My goal is to try to be as fast and healthy as I was at Griak two years ago, but that means I need to really work. The goal is to try to go to Nationals in the indoor 3K and in the outdoor 5K. At this point, we're seeing what I am capable of doing and trying to build from there.