Q & A With Lauren Saylor

Sept. 19, 2008

Expectations and spirits are high for the third-ranked Washington women's cross country team heading into the start of its season this Saturday with the Sundodger Invitational. Sophomore Lauren Saylor had a great freshman season both in cross country and track, running in UW's top-seven at every race, and qualifying for NCAA Regionals in the 5000-meters. Saylor also earned a spot on the U.S. Junior XC team that competed in Edinburgh, Scotland this past March. The Clovic, Calif. native talks with GoHuskies about her summer of training and the big goals the team will strive to reach this season.

GoHuskies.com: Where did you run today, and where are some of your favorite runs in the area?
Lauren Saylor:
'Today I ran along Lake Union. It's along the Burke-Gilman trail and it's a nice flat run. So I usually do that on recovery days. That one I really like, and also the standard Arboretum run, those trails are awesome in there. We definitely put those to use quite a bit during the week.'

GH: This may be an elementary school question, but how did you spend your summer vacation?
LS:
'My family actually moved from Fresno to Orange County, so I just ran down there and went to the beach and relaxed. I really didn't do much at all. I needed it. It was a really good summer of training. I'm happy with how my summer went and I think I put myself in a good position to help our team achieve all the goals we have set.'

GH: What do you think is the biggest difference coming in as a sophomore now?
LS:
'Definitely just having that year of base period. Building mileage, building strength, knowing what to do over the summer. Going into freshman year you're kind of in limbo, you're not in high school but you're not yet in college. So you don't know what the expectations are. But going into sophomore year you know what you need to do to be at that level. So going into summer I was really excited to train hard and give this year my best shot because I think we can win. So really the biggest difference is knowing what you can do.'

GH: The women's team is ranked No. 3 heading into the season. Were you surprised that the voters think so much of the team at this point?
LS:
'I wasn't even really thinking about rankings or anything, because we really and truly believe that we can win. It's actually a good spot to be. We don't want to be first right now and have the target on our backs, so we're sitting in a good spot I think. I'm really excited to see what our team does this year.'

GH: Given the expectations, is it a challenge not to look ahead and stay focused on the present?
LS:
'I think at this level you've already been running for a while, so you learn to be patient. You're going to have bad days, you're going to have good days, but you just have to keep yourself in check every day. It goes for everything, not even just running. You just have to take care of yourself, and our girls remind each other a lot about what we need to do to take care of ourselves. We're all friends obviously outside of practice because it takes up so much of our time. We're all really good friends so we're constantly reminding each other of the things we need to do day in and day out.'

GH: Are there any particular goals for yourself personally that you're looking towards?
LS:
'Well last year I had some trouble at Nationals from my iron and my blood sugar levels. Things weren't going well at all. I told Coach Metcalf, `I'm going to go from last to an All-American!' So I would like to hopefully be All-America this year. I have some time goals of sub-20:40, which would be great. It's scary to think we could potentially have five All-Americans on our team at Nationals. So hopefully that goes according to plan (laughs).'

GH: Classes are starting up next week, is there anything you're looking forward to fall quarter?
LS:
'I've always liked school but also it's a hassle sometimes. But I have a few teammates in each of my classes which will be nice. So we're going to keep on each other and keep each other accountable.'

GH: Have you chosen a major?
LS:
'No, I'm not sure yet. I'm going to try a communications class this fall, and I've taken a couple psych classes. So I'm going to do one of those maybe and then go for a teaching credential my fifth year. Possibly, we'll see, I'm still changing my mind.'

GH: Last spring you got to compete at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Scotland. What was that experience like?
LS:
'That was probably one of the greatest experiences running-wise I've had in my life. Just doing the U.S. Cross Country Championships was kind of a mental barrier, just because of how I ended the cross country season, it was a huge relief to me to know `Oh, I can still do this. I can still race at this level.' Making that team was really exciting, and Kendra Schaaf on our team, she ran for Canada so we go to hang out in Scotland too and get to know each other better. It's just different seeing elite athletes; how they compete and how they live. They're not so different from us. It's just really cool cause not very many people get to see that side of the spectrum and learn from the other older athletes, and just enjoy being in a different country even for a week with the people who love the same sport as you.'

GH: Was that the most interesting place that running has taken you so far?
LS:
'Yeah, definitely. I went to Footlocker Nationals a couple times in high school, but I mean, Scotland, that's just way better. It was my first time out of the country, so I figured that was a good way to spend it.'

GH: The Sundodger is just a few days away now. What are looking to get out of that race?
LS:
'I think just to set a good tone for the season. We talked about building into the race and finishing really strong. Just getting that confidence for when we go against Oregon and Stanford and those teams. I think our team's going to do awesome Saturday. It's not a huge meet but it can definitely set the bar high if we all run well and have really good times. So it will be a good race.'

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