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How is your first year as a pro; what has the transition been like?
I look back on my senior year of college and, admittedly, felt the experiences I had in 2013 prepared me well to enter the professional running circuit with ease. I was confident but unaware. Moving far from home and dealing with the stresses of taking on greater individual responsibilities was difficult without my family close by. I missed my Gator teammates. Thankfully, I have been surrounded by so many supportive people in my new home and have slowly adjusted. Am I satisfied with my first year as a professional? Not quite. However, I know this year will serve a great purpose. Overall, the transition was more difficult than I anticipated but I have remained focused and positive.
What is it like running for New Balance?
Running for New Balance is fulfilling beyond description. The energy and pride within the close knit company can motivate people to perform to their utmost capacity. As an athlete, I perform best when I believe in what I represent. When I wear a New Balance kit and line up, I'm motivated.
The reality of being a part of this team is especially exciting for me when I reflect on middle school and high school. Throughout my first years imagining running as a professional, I looked up to Sarah Brown and recall reading about Jenny Simpson. I was inspired by their college accolades. I wanted to achieve similar heights. This year I stood on the starting line at the U.S. Championship wearing the same uniform as women I admire. Being a part of New Balance assures me my hard work was recognised and I am excited to continue my career with New Balance supporting me.
Describe your fondest race memory.
My fondest race memory is hard to pinpoint. Each race has taught me something. I believe the day I raced and obtained the standard necessary to claim a spot on Team USA was a day I will always remember. My closest friends were there at the finish to embrace me as I achieved a goal I had committed to years before. The girls who watched me race with all my heart had trained with me all along the way. It was a special day for me and I was fortunate enough to spend it with people I love.
If you had a day off from your everyday responsibilities, describe how you would spend it.
A day off from running and my everyday responsibilities would be spent in Mississippi with my sisters enjoying the Gulf Coast, good food, our back porch, sunshine, and s'mores fireside. I love my time at home with my family. That's when I am happiest.
Describe your favorite workout.
My favorite workout is either 400 meter repeats or hill reps. I feel confident in my power and when I do hill sprints I feel reassured that I have specific strengths. 400 meter repeats are daunting because they feel so easy for such a large portion of the workout then suddenly the last few take a great degree of focus. I enjoy both workouts and the purposes they serve in my training.
"My fondest race memory is hard to pinpoint. Each race has taught me something." Cory McGee
Tell us about your favorite memory with one of your current or past training partners.
Choosing a favorite memory with my training partners is almost impossible. There is a particular run I can reflect on with my college and Team NB teammate, Gen LaCaze. We made a wrong turn and found ourselves on the wrong side of a pasture filled with cattle. The task of crossing the field seemed to be less difficult than backtracking the many miles we had run off course. Admittedly, we underestimated the task. We exchanged words of encouragement and began crossing. After the initial few minutes, the reality of water moccasins and quick sand became apparent. We found high ground beneath an oak tree and regathered. Amidst nervous laughter and hyperventilation, we continued to sprint toward the destination. We considered turning back a few times when we found ourselves knee deep in marsh. I ran ahead of Gen shouting that we could get to the other side. It was both hilarious and terrifying, like all the best adventures are. When we finally made it to the van, we were covered in mud and likely appeared to have just completed a month long voyage. We still laugh about it.
Take us through your average daily routine? What is it like being in your shoes?
My daily routine begins with an alarm that has a motivating message flashing. Next, a light breakfast, toast and banana, before my first run. Usually sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 I meet with my coach and teammates. This is the main session of the day. Afterwards, I have some protein and the team stretches together and takes time on some detail work. If I go to the gym, I would go after this session. When I return home, I focus on a meal to replenish all I lost in my workout. I generally nap for a couple hours. If not, I'm inclined to spend time in a cafe for awhile or go explore new parts of Boston. My second run is usually brief. I run on a reservoir close to where I live often times. My roommate Caroline and I spend time watching movies in the evening and making dinner together.
What is your cross training regimen?
I do not cross train often. When I do, I bike or swim. This usually only occurs when I am facing injury or returning from a break. I enjoy lifting and incorporate it into my training regiment weekly. I believe it helps to minimise risk of injury when properly executed. When I lift, I primarily concentrate on Olympic lifts.
What is your main goal for the rest of the 2015 year?
The rest of 2015 will not include much racing. My main goal is to take a break and refocus for next year. Last year I did not allow myself to rest because of the excitement surrounding beginning my post-collegiate career. It was a mistake. This fall I aim to begin training refreshed and settled so 2016 will be all I imagine it to be.
What is it like balancing life, training and racing?
When aiming to run consistently to the best of your ability, balancing life and it's many obstacles can occasionally be overwhelming. This does not suddenly change when you become a professional. From my experiences, the balance can overwhelm you at times. I look back on opportunities and question if my mental stresses kept me from some of my goals. Overall, the execution of knowing when to give your energy to which component of your life and how much of yourself to give can determine the success of your competitive year. I am still navigating this balance and learning how much of myself to give every day.
If you could give one piece of advice to any runner, what would it be and why?
My best advice to any runner would be to manifest confidence. Believe in your strengths when you stand on the starting line. As a young runner, I felt as if I could compete against anyone. Today, I hold on to that mentality and draw on the confidence I demonstrated as a novice. When you line up to race, doubt cannot be present. When I have a negative thought, I immediately push it away with positivity and self-assurance.
What does racing/training look like for you in the next 6 months?
Within the next six months I will take a break and spend some time at home. I'll slowly begin the base phase of training when I return to Boston. October through December will be concentrated on getting stronger. A solid fall will be important. Entering the new year I will so excited to race indoor. After an injury last fall I missed out on fall training and indoor racing. I'll certainly be excited to have those months of training this upcoming year.