Interview with Ari Lambie
By Parker Morse

Ari Lambie at the 2002 Massachusetts State Cross Country Championships.
(Both Photos by Alison Wade/NYRR)
Lambie won the Division II 5k race in 17:22.

In terms of raising expectations for one's performance on a national stage, breaking course records set by Natasha Roetter, last year's third-place finisher at the Foot Locker nationals, might be enough. But Arianna "Ari" Lambie, a senior at Bromfield High School in Harvard, Massachusetts, has some scorching records to chase just in her school: Bromfield's previous contribution to the running world was three-time World Cross Country champion Lynn Jennings. At the Central Massachusetts Regional on November 9 in Gardiner, Lambie came within seconds of Jennings' course record; the following Saturday, Lambie won her second-straight Division II State title in Franklin Park, where Jennings won her third World Championship. Lambie's time of 17:22, run in slick conditions, was the third fastest by a high school girl at Franklin Park, only Shalane Flanagan has run faster.

Until this season, Lambie was better known as a track runner. As a junior, she won a state title in the indoor mile, running a personal best of 4:52.16. She then anchored Bromfield's winning 4x800 relay at the Nike Indoor Classic. Outdoors, she ran 2:08.74 in winning a State title in the 800m. spoke with Lambie while she awaited word on the team score for the State meet. Did you have any idea what you were doing, or what the pace was like?
Ari Lambie:
I could tell it was fast. I could feel it. I went out in 5:14, or whatever it was, and surprisingly, I wasn't that worried. I knew it was faster than I should have gone out, but I felt strong, so I knew I could just go for a fast time today. I ran 17-something [17:15, a new meet record] at the Brown Invitational last month. But that was better conditions and a faster day. I think I'm still improving.

FW: What was your biggest concern today?
I don't know if you'd call it a concern; it's the team. I felt confident that I could win, I wanted to run a really fast time, just to physically feel good for Foot Locker. The mud did concern me, the cold turned out better than I thought. The mud was a little slippery, but I just was careful around the corners, and it worked out well. I didn't want to get hurt, that's for sure.

FW: At what point do you feel like you took control of the race?
I was confident from the start. I knew I went out fast, and I didn't know who she was [Katherine Marvel of Hampshire Regional, who ran with Lambie for much of the first mile], but I knew probably she couldn't hold that pace, considering I couldn't hold that pace. So I never was too concerned. I was more concerned that I went out in 5:15, which is sub-17 pace. So I just held the pace, I didn't worry about the other runners.

FW: Has your team been shooting for the state championship all year?
Yeah, we've been getting more and more excited each week, as we compared the teams and who we've matched up against. We're really excited and hoping for the best.

FW: Is Bromfield a regular contender, or is this something that's new for you?
No, this is new. Last year we were second, and that was a huge step up. We've got thirty girls on the team now, compared to, like, eight several years ago. It's become closer and closer. Now it could be a reality.

FW: How did your training differ this season from your training for last spring's track season?
I've put in some more miles. I've been taking this season really seriously, running every run pretty hard, and it's just been solid season. I haven't had many bad days in training.

FW: About how high did the mileage go?
Thirty-five miles a week. So it's not ridiculous, but it's been helpful, it's building my strength. I've been up to forty, but mostly 35. It's been coming down a little bit lately. I didn't rest too much this week, I had a pretty good workout on Wednesday, I did five miles yesterday. I'm still training for Foot Locker.

FW: How does the week shape up? Are there regular days for regular workouts?
Yes, we usually do a Tuesday workout, Tuesday or Wednesday, there's a long run, and the rest I usually do five miles or so.

FW: Do you train with the rest of the team?
Yeah, we run together, and sometimes I'll add on at the end of a run. But there are some great runners on the team, like Kristin Ricci, she's been a great training partner for me. She's done amazingly well, this is her first season, she's a junior. (Ricci placed fifth.)

FW: Have you been doing anything special as a team as States got closer?
Yes, we've been taking more care to see who each runner should match up against. They rested up a lot, because this is their big meet. We got really pumped together at the big dinner last night. We got really excited.

FW: What kind of role does your coach play?
I feel like my coach never gets enough recognition, and he does just amazing things with this team. He's been here three and a half years, and he's taken a team of ten or so up to thirty, everybody loves it, and he's made some incredible runners out of us.

FW: What kind of improvement have you seen since you first started?
Incremental improvement each year, which I think is really important. He doesn't push us to our limits as middle schoolers -- he coaches the middle schoolers as well -- and he just lets us get a little stronger, a little faster each year. I've improved, I don't know, ten or twenty seconds in the 800, and he got me out to run cross country.

FW: Do you remember your time from your first cross country race?
It was, like, just under twenty minutes, I think. And now I'm at seventeen.

FW: Had you raced here at Franklin Park before?
Yes. Twice at the Baystate meet, this year and last year. I improved a minute from earlier this year. It was really early in the season, and I didn't feel as strong in the middle of the race.

FW: Do you feel like you could run faster?
I think so, under better conditions. I did put it all out today, which I'm proud of. I felt like I probably held a little bit back last week [at the Regional in Gardiner]. I didn't stay motivated the whole race.

FW: Is it hard to stay motivated when you're out in front like that? Do you feel like you have people behind you pushing you?
It's tough. I haven't felt too much pressure from other runners this year, so I really need to work on staying focused in the races. Today I just tried to remember each step of the way that I wanted to run fast, I wanted to be my own competitor.

FW: Is that going to be a concern at the Foot Locker Regional, when you're running with a lot of other girls who've spent the season out in front?
I'm not used to running in a pack. I'm a little worried about it. My coach is helping prepare me, telling me exactly how I should go out. I'll try to stay in the front pack. I'm not used to pack running. I've never run in Van Cortlandt. We're going down on Friday to scope it out. That may be a disadvantage for me, but physically I think I'm ready for it.

FW: What are your goals?
Go to San Diego [for Nationals].

FW: Beyond that?
Well, I'm going to Stanford. I just want to keep running four years, not get injured, keep loving it. I've no idea about after college, but I want to run solidly in college and see what I can do.

[Bromfield won the Division II State title, 85 to 141 over Mohawk Trail Regional.]

(Interview conducted November 16, 2002, Posted November 22, 2002)

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