Q & A With Carl Moe
June 11, 2008
Senior Carl Moe is on the verge of his final meet as a Washington Husky. Moe, a native of Auburn, Wash., has battled through numerous injuries as one of the leaders of UW's track and cross country teams. Moe has earned two All-America honors in the distance medley relay, and will be making his second-straight NCAA appearance in the 3000m steeplechase this week in Des Moines, Iowa. After working out for the first time at Drake Stadium, the site of this year's national championship, Moe talked about his expectations for this meet, his journey through injuries, and life beyond the track.
GoHuskies.com: This is your fourth time now at an NCAA Championship meet. What is your favorite part about these races?
Carl Moe: I think it's just fun to be at the top level with all the guys, not just for racing but also going and watching the meet and seeing all the people you know. A lot of my friends from other teams this is the only time I see them all year. This is the coolest track meet in the U.S. other than the Olympic Trials and the U.S. Championships, so going and being a part of it is big for me.'
GH: Have you ever been to the Drake Stadium before and what are your thoughts having seen it now?
CM: 'Never have. I think it's going to be loud. We had a 4xMile team win here at the Drake Relays in the early 2000's, and I remember seeing a picture of (former Husky) Geoff Perry pretending to ride the baton, and I've seen that picture for so long and always wanted to go there. I'm excited, as long as it doesn't rain or flood.'
GH: Is your school work all wrapped up at this point?
CM: 'I pretty much was done in the fall. I took 12 credits in the fall, and took an online class in the winter and graduated after winter. So I've had no classes this quarter.'
GH: What was your degree in?
CM: 'I'm an economics major but I'm actually starting chiropractic school in the fall. It's a school in Atlanta. So that will be my new thing. Classes start July 8, so whether I'm racing in the Trials or watching the Trials, I'll leave straight from there.'
GH: One of your most exciting races this year must have been at the Ken Shannon, where you came so close to a four-minute mile in your last home meet. Can you take us through that race?
CM: 'It's funny because when Coach (Metcalf) told me I was going to run the mile I was like, `Why am I going to run a mile a week from Pac-10's?' I wasn't that excited. And then all of a sudden everyone on the team was super excited for it, there was a lot of energy coming out of the team for it. They were planning to have drums and all this stuff, so I thought that sounded pretty cool and I started getting a little more amped up for it. Then we get to the meet, it's lousy weather and windy and again I thought I didn't want to do it. But everyone was so excited I thought I had to go for it. We start the race and go out too hard and it's windy and I thought I would back off, but everyone was so loud, I just had to keep going. Then all of a sudden it was the crowd's race. It wasn't even me. The last lap I was hurting but I kind of forgot I was actually racing. I just looked around at everyone, it was so loud, and they were coming onto the track. It was a great way to finish, at home at least.'
GH: With this being your last collegiate meet, have you thought about putting the jersey on for the final time?
CM: 'I haven't thought about it yet. I'm hoping to still wear it at Trials. I still have that in the back of my head because that's the goal I've been working towards all year so I haven't though about it. But definitely getting on the track tomorrow I'll be like, `Alright, don't make this my last race.' I'm trying to go from race to race saying, `Don't let this be my last race in a Husky uniform.' So I probably won't realize it until after I'm done. But being my last NCAA Championships that's kind of hit. Partly exciting but partly sad.'
GH: Can you think back on when you first started running the steeplechase? What made you especially suited to that race?
CM: 'It really fits my personality as a runner and also my strengths. As a freshman I came in and Metcalf asked if I wanted to try it. I said sure but I thought I was going to be a miler. I started hurdling a little bit and I felt pretty smooth over hurdles so we said alright let's do our first steeple race. I ran at Mt. SAC in a loaded race with way too many people and the race went horribly. I got my knee split open, barely finished, ran like 9:16, hated it and walked up to coach afterwards and said I'd never run that race again. I just had to relax and get away from the meet. I came back and ran again at the WSU dual meet which was one of my most exciting races because I sat back and then kicked and got my first real big win. But at that meet I ruined my arch, and that set me back like a year and a half and is something I still deal with. So we decided not to worry about the steeple at all, we'll just get back on the track. I ran 1500 for two years but going into last year Metcalf told me he still thought I could be a good steepler and he said I could score at Pac-10's and score at NCAA's. So I tried it again and started hurdling and it started to come together. It fits me well because I like the idea that you go out controlled and you're hurdling and you feel good then all of a sudden you feel horrible but you still have to finish. Instead of going out hard to start, you need a more controlled effort.'
GH: Now at last year's NCAA meet you were disqualified for some sort of obstruction rule. What exactly happened in that run?
CM: 'That was the best I ever felt in any race my whole life. I felt like I was jogging the whole race. I ran 8:41 and just felt like I was jogging. I went to the back pack, worked my way up no problems and felt good. With about a thousand (meters) to go, me and two other athletes broke away from the field a little bit. We started running pretty fast and I looked back and saw a gap and thought I'd just stay relaxed and qualify and kind of coast in and save energy for the final. Then all of a sudden with 200 to go, I'd let off so much that two other guys passed me. But I still felt good and thought I would have a good kick after the water pit. So they were slowing down quite a bit after they passed me. So we go over the water pit, and they land and are kind of separated, so I thought I would go in-between them and the problem is when you go in the water pit you go inside the track and then you come back onto the track. So as I was going through, my hips were actually past theirs, but they started coming in and we all hit each other and our arms got caught. So since I was coming from behind when I made the pass, that's why I got DQ'd.'
GH: How hard was that for you to deal with?
CM: 'It hurt. We didn't find out until like three hours later. I still thought I was in and I had gone up to Coach afterwards and said let's figure out how to win this thing. I was all excited. I did a cool-down, stretched, went and showered, went out to dinner with my family and we were making toasts. Then right as the dinner came I got the phone call. It just hit me so hard. I couldn't eat anymore I had to just get up and leave, it was horrible. But I think it will help tomorrow. One, I think I'll have that extra hunger to get after it and go. And then two, I'm not looking back, I'm not slowing down. Once I start closing for home I'm not going to let anything slow me down. So hopefully it will help.'
GH: Injuries have been a problem throughout your career. Can you go through everything you've had to deal with?
CM: 'Ultimately I think it all stems from the same problem. I have some imbalances in my core, my hips, my legs. So I think it's all the same cause. My freshman year my arch started bothering me and I raced a little too much on it. So I got a pretty bad case of plantar fasciitis and took a year off without any running. Made a couple comebacks and it still really killed me. I've slept in a boot every night for the last four years every night, which is horrible. Finally got over that and I came back and had track season, and then the first cross country race I slipped and fell at the start line. Something happened where I pinched the peroneal nerve in my right leg. I dealt with that for a full year, took a bunch of time off, made a comeback for indoor track, and then it came back again after track season. I made another comeback for last year's track season and had no problems. My sister got married and I got sick a little bit so I was all over the place, but I was still training really well. Then I came back to cross country this season and I had the confidence that I had when I was a freshman where I thought I was going to beat anyone I run against. Then in a workout, somehow I tweaked something in the nerves again, and was out again. So I took a bunch of time off and cross-trained. I've never worked so hard cross-training as I did this winter, and I think it's paying off now. But I've been injured so much that it's kind of a disaster.'
GH: So are you looking towards the Olympic Trials as sort of your last big meet?
CM: 'It's kind of my victory lap. As much as I'd like to compete, and be at my peak form, and go race fast, I'm just happy to be there. My sister lives in Eugene so all my family is going to spend the whole week down there. It's right before I leave for school for three years so I'm just going to go enjoy myself. I'd love to make the final, but if I don't make the final I'm going to be okay.'
GH: What do you think your involvement with running will be after this season?
CM: 'I have no idea. I'd like to say I'm going to go and start lifting weights and playing soccer and doing fun sports. I'm competitive so I may do different things, but I could find myself a year from now trying to run professionally again. Definitely, going to chiropractic school, I'm going to try and get my masters in exercise science as well. I plan to be heavily involved in athletics. I want to figure out a way to focus on athletes in terms of not just chiropractic care but working on injury treatment and injury prevention and stuff that I wish I had been able to go through. So in terms of that and my practice, I think that's where I'll substitute my running with helping others.'
GH: So looking back now to when you first came to Washington, in what ways do you think you've changed most?
CM: 'I'm definitely a lot less naïve. Coming in I didn't really see the big picture at all. I just thought I was here to run. I came in as one of the better high school runners coming to college, and I had all these high expectations, and I figured if I didn't reach those I was a failure. I didn't care about school, I just wanted to run. I think the injuries--obviously I would have liked to be healthy and perform--but I think the injuries helped me grow a lot. Spiritually I've found strength in my faith, my family, my friends. I've actually planned a life that I'm proud of and what I want to do instead of just worrying about running. If you put everything into running you'll be an unhappy person all the time. You can look at runners who are so focused on running, and they're the worst people to hang out with because they're depressed all the time. So I think in terms of that I've realized that there's not one thing that's so important that it should take over your life. But I'm happy with my accomplishments athletically too.'