Interview with Alicia Craig

Reported by Parker Morse

Alicia Craig on her way to a 10,000m national title.
(Photo by Alison Wade/New York Road Runners)

Alicia Craig moved to the front of the NCAA 10,000m final in the twenty-second lap. After a series of 77- and 78-second laps paced by Yale's Kate O'Neill, Craig demolished the pack with a 72-second lap. Her closing mile was just under five minutes.

Fast-Women.com: That was a pretty strong last mile. And 6:15 for the last 2000.
Alicia Craig:
Thank you.

FW: Were you expecting the O'Neills (twins Laura and Kate) to set the pace?
Well, they've done that in the past, at the indoor nationals, they worked together at the front and set the pace. They work well together, I'm sure they train that way.

FW: Did you have a plan for when you wanted to start pushing?
The plan was just to be as patient as possible for the first 5,000m, to make it a 5,000m run and then a 5,000m race. Then [after the first half], just bide my time. If I wasn't happy with the pace, I would take the lead, but they were doing a good job so I just hung back. I anticipated it going a little quicker in the first 5k, but it didn't, so that's all right.

FW: So at 9k you just couldn't be patient anymore?
No! It felt so good! My legs felt good, so I just wanted to get out of there.

FW: You were actually thinking, I want to go, but I have to wait?
Yes. I'm not that familiar with the 10k, so I don't know what you should feel at any particular point. I love tempo runs, and this is basically just a little quicker tempo run.

FW: How many have you run now?
One at [the Pac Ten Conference Championship], then this one.

FW: What were you thinking for the first twenty laps other than 'Be patient, be patient?'
It's a long time to be out there, I guess. I was just thinking and praying. My coach has really emphasized patience, but it's such a long race that there's really no point in getting too antsy and wasting too much energy.

FW: Were there any wind issues on the track? It's pretty breezy tonight.
It was pretty windy, but I wasn't in the lead so I didn't have it near as bad as they did. I'm from Wyoming, so I'll take anything. Rain, snow, wind's not a problem, no. I've gotten a little soft since I moved to California, though. Fifty seems cold.

FW: What do you think gave you the speed to pull away like you did?
My legs just felt pretty good. I don't know. [The pace] just kept breaking down. I really didn't have any specific point to start picking it up. I felt good. If someone had come with me that would have made it even more exciting. Not to take anything away from [Kate O'Neill], she's a very tough competitor and I appreciate the fact that she gets out there and lays it on the line. I really respect that. She got second at cross-country nationals, and I was third there. Then she was second at indoor nationals [in the 5,000m] and I was third again.

FW: She even has the advantage of a built-in rabbit.
Exactly. But I can't complain, I have wonderful teammates. I've been blessed. God has been good to me and I give Him all the glory, not just because I run well but because I take strength from him.

Stanford is an incredible school. I can't imagine anyplace else I'd rather be in terms of academics and athletics combined. When people ask me if there's anything I don't like about it, I honestly can't think of anything.

FW: Is this the end of your season?
We'll see how the next couple of days go. I might run the USA Nationals, probably the 5,000m. I don't know for sure, though. I like both distances pretty equally. I like the long distance, getting in to a set pace and picking people off.

FW: Was the 10,000m your season goal?
Actually, I didn't decide to run it until two days after Regionals. The day we had to declare was the day I decided. I was qualified to run the 5,000m as well.

I'm really thankful. God has been so good to me in giving me wonderful coaches and training partners. I just feel blessed to be here and have the ability to run.

FW: Is this your first national championship?
I won the mile my junior year in high school, at Golden West.

FW: Did you hear your teammates on the back corner chanting, 'Alicia's just jogging?'
Oh, they shouldn't have said that! That's rude!

FW: Stanford hasn't had a champion in this event in twenty-one years. The last was Kim Schnurpfeil in 1982.
Really? That was an amazing group of girls in the 80s. Hopefully we can bring that back. Patti Sue, Regina, Ceci Hopp, they were amazing. I think we're seeing a resurgence of that. It's pretty exciting.

FW: Does it help to be running so close to Palo Alto?
Yeah. The one thing I was hoping was that it wouldn't be ninety-five degrees. That's something I haven't adjusted to yet.

FW: Do you still call Gillette (Wyoming) home?
Yes. I trained in Colorado last summer, but Wyoming is still home. My parents are here tonight.

FW: Why did you redshirt after your first year of cross country?
Actually, I got an IT-band injury. It runs from your hip down to your knee. It started in the winter, right before indoor season began. We couldn't isolate what it was. Once we figured out that it was the IT band, it cleared right up. I didn't start running until the end of April. I would try to cross-train, and that would flare it up, and we didn't know what it was. I missed both track seasons. So I'm an academic sophomore but I'm a freshman for track.

FW: Did you see the Ethiopians in the 10k race [at the U.S. Open meet] last weekend?
Unfortunately, I was in my room studying for finals. I just took a final two days ago, and I have another one at 7:00 tomorrow morning. They're both in Human Biology, different classes. You take a Human Biology core in your sophomore year for the major, though a lot of the majors are really pre-med. I'm not sure what specialty I'll declare yet. It's the most popular major at Stanford. We have an honor code, so they fax us a test and we take it here and they trust us. We have a three-hour time limit. I don't know if I'll be studying more, I might be better off sleeping now.

(Interview conducted June 12, 2003, Posted June 13, 2003)

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