bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Harkins Interview :: 10/20/11

bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the teams' performance out at Pre Nationals this past weekend?
Meaghan Harkins: I absolutely want to highlight the twins, Courtney and Camille Schultz for continuing their great performances. Courtney and Camille both finishing in very good company. I believe all the people who were in front of them are going to be at the national championships this year whether its individually or as part of a team so that's really exciting for them. Overall the times were insanely slow simply due to some pretty strong winds that day so I wasn't nearly as happy on the whole with the times that we ran but I was satisfied especially on the women's side especially with their performances. I was hoping to get our top five women in the top 200 and we ended up with our top six runners in the top 200. I think that was an improvement on what I was hoping for or expecting.

On the men's side we definitely had a down day. It was not what we were hoping for and I think there were a number of factors that played into that, some of that being the wind but obviously that's a factor for everyone there and there were some teams that had very good days despite that. On the men's side there are some things to work on and some things to fix going forward. For both teams the priority is getting ready for the WAC Championships.

bc.net: You had a couple of solid performances on the women's side from some of your younger kids in their first trip out to Pre Nationals.
MH: Tamara Lementino in particular I thought did a very good job. Pretty much everyone on the women's side went out fairly conservatively over that first mile, even more conservatively than I would have recommended but Tamara from basically like a mile on moved up considerably and was fearless in running the 6K. She had actually run a 6K before with her club team before she got to the college level and so I'm sure that helped with her confidence and she showed no fear whatsoever either from the distance or from the athletes she was competing with and so I was happy with her performance especially.

bc.net: On the men's side you were disappointed with the times and results from the meet. What are some things that they need to improve on? Your top seven all cross within about two minutes of each other.
MH: Honestly, in the times that we've had our one through seven finish within 17 seconds of each other, two minutes is definitely something we need to improve on. I think there are a number of factors that I think could have attributed to the men's overall performance, partly I think that both teams have been running tired all year long and that's just part of the process of distance running. The men in particular had an exceedingly challenging workout the Tuesday before the Pre Nationals meet and it could be that they were still affected by that. They absolutely have smashed the workouts to pieces and so I thought that would bode well for this past weekend but the fact is they might have just been a little sluggish and not entirely recovered from that effort because it was such a big effort.

In terms of moving forward, because we've been running tired all year the most important thing now is just tapering and getting proper recovered and getting excited to compete at the WAC Champoinships and I think part of that excitement stems from when your body does start recovering during that tapering process. All of the sudden you start feeling really good and you want to perform. That's the goal in moving forward.

bc.net: With the WAC Championships being in Hawai'i this year, your training is in elevation, what do you do during your training her that can help you adjust to the race being at sea level?
MH: Training at elevation can be both a blessing and a curse at the same time. A blessing because any time you go down to sea level you actually feel the difference in the amounts of oxygen in the air which is always beneficial. You can run a lot faster. However, training at altitude, it prevents you from being able to run the faster paces without risking a lack of recovery before the next race. In order to prepare for sea level races we typically do some workouts that are faster. We try to workouts that are faster than current race pace and that can be accomplished by coming down on the track, no longer doing intervals on the grass even though grass intervals mimic cross country courses very well, obviously you can run a lot faster on the track. Then we'll just need to increase rest a little more than if we were at elevation. It's both a blessing and a curse. I know the kids always get excited to race at sea level. Pre Nats was at sea level, Cowboy was at sea level and so they understand what that means both physically and mentally. There's some things that we can do but ultimately it just comes down to being competitive regardless of where you are and what the elevation is.