Interview with Arianna Lambie
By Ricky Quintana

Arianna Lambie runs at the 2003 Finish Lynx/Murray Keatinge Invitational.
(Photo: Alison Wade/New York Road Runners)

In her first two meets of the season, Stanford freshman Arianna Lambie looked content running with her teammates. In her only race in her native New England, the Finish Lynx/Murray Keatinge Invitational, she even had time to sing a motivational Stanford cheer with her teammates as she raced to a "breakthrough" 5k cross country PR of 17:05.

At last weekend's NCAA Pre National meet in Waterloo, Iowa, the stakes were a little higher. Running with the leaders for the first half of the race, Lambie held on to finish a solid fifth place against some of the best runners in the nation. Her 20:13 for 6k was the fastest freshman time of the day.

Five weeks into the season, the transition to college doesn't seem to have affected Lambie, who ran 4:37.23 — the #3 U.S. high school performance of all time — in winning the adidas Outdoor Championships in Raleigh, North Carolina last June. Running "stronger than ever," Lambie feels that she can only get stronger in the remaining five weeks as the #1 ranked Stanford women seek their second team title in school history.

Lambie took some time from her busy schedule to talk about her cross country season, the upcoming track season and the Stanford experience thus far.

Ricky Quintana: How is the season going for you?
Arianna Lambie:
The season is going well. I've had three meets and I feel like I'm getting stronger in each one. This last one, Pre Nationals, was probably the best indication of where I am right now. I think I'm right where I want to be. We still have five weeks until nationals. I think I'm only going to improve. So far the season is going well.

RQ: Was the competition stiff for you at Pre Nationals? How did that race go for you?
Yeah, I didn't know what to expect. I had a plan. I was going to go out and be aggressive and see what I had to hold on with. It turns out, I couldn't hold my original pace for the whole way, but I did manage to make it in. I PRed in the 5k and still went on to place well. It's a confidence booster, because I feel like that was some of the best competition in the country and I finished near the top there. My coach did tell me that I could finish in the top ten, but actually doing it is different than being told that you can do it.

RQ: Did that extra 1k take some getting used to?
Yeah, I'd say so. That was my first 6k. I don't know. I'm a lot stronger than last year, so I will be able to go the extra k... But it's a slightly different race.

RQ: Are you going to have to change your strategy for the 6k distance?
I don't think so. The strategy for a race comes from who's in it and how I feel more than the different distance.

RQ: How did you like the course at Pre Nationals?
I liked the course a lot. It was very wide and soft...some nice rolling hills. It's a great spectator course. I'm looking forward to gong back there.

RQ: I heard there were a lot of turns.
Yeah, it wound around a lot, but I don't mind that.

RQ: Going back to the summer, how did it feel to finish out the track season like you did?
I don't think I could have finished much better than that. It was a long season, from last summer to spring. My mind and body were ready for a break. I was glad to end on that high note. I felt like I accomplished much more than I ever thought I would. It set me up well to take a little time off and then get ready for the preseason.

RQ: How much time did you take off?
I took one to two weeks off. I took one week completely off and then started to build up gradually.

RQ: How did it feel not to run?
I don't know, it was nice to have a break, but I always try to think of myself as more than someone who runs. It wasn't that different.

RQ: How much involvement did Coach Vin Lananna have in recruiting you?
He wasn't involved much at all. I did meet him and I was impressed by him, but really, all the recruiting came from [Stanford Head Women's Cross Country Coach, Dena Evans].

RQ: Was his leaving a surprise to you?
Yes, it was a surprise. I had no idea he was looking at other jobs. It didn't have much effect on me because Dena was the one who I was going to have the most interaction with.

RQ: How is that relationship working out between you and her?
It's wonderful. She's so knowledgeable about us as people and as runners. She's fun and she cares. Whenever there's a problem, she'll listens to it. She pushes us hard. I think she's a great coach.

RQ: You and the Trotters (twins Katy and Amanda) competed against each other for a long time. How is the freshman class working out?
Oh, it's great. We have a huge freshman class. We're all very supportive. I get along very well with the Trotters. We push each other, but we're not competitive by any means. We help each other along. It's just a really fun relationship.

RQ: How is it to run with someone in workouts? Is that new for you?
Yeah, it's new. I do a lot of workouts with the Trotters, Sara (Bei), and Alicia (Craig). That's a totally new experience for me, because I feel that I can. I mean, it's an honor to be running with them. If I can do just part of their workouts, Sara and Alicia's, I feel like that is an accomplishment. But at the same time, we all kind of help each other. We're all running the workouts together. They'll encourage me along. I don't know, it's a real team effort in the workouts.

RQ: What is you training like mileage-wise?
I've increased my mileage a little bit over the summer. Now, I'm running 40 to 45 miles a week, which seems to be working out well for me.

RQ: Do you still take days off?
Yeah, I still take one day a week off.

RQ: Do you do a long run?
Yeah, once a week.

RQ: How far?
Nine to 10 miles.

RQ: Is that long for you?
It's long compared to last year. We don't kill ourselves on our longs runs. It's doable.

RQ: In workouts, do you spend most of your time on grass doing fartleks?
Yeah, mostly. We try to work out on grass or soft surfaces. We've done two workouts on the track and a little bit on campus. There are some nice grass facilities.

RQ: What is the biggest difference you've seen in your training between high school and college?
That's a good question. There are a lot of little differences. There's the mileage increase. I guess it would be more frequent workouts. And the volume is a little bit higher. The intensity is just a little bit higher. It hasn't been a drastic step. It's been a progression.

RQ: You seem to be a very busy young woman. How are the academics going?
I am (laughs). I'm not taking any more classes than anybody else. It's a lot of work, but I try to stay on top of it. I really enjoy it. I'm trying to do some other activities too. There's a volunteer science program in East Palo Alto. I'm doing that once a week... I'm trying to take advantage of the resources here, so I keep myself pretty busy.

RQ: Do you have aspirations of being a teacher?
Probably not...possibly. I'm very interested in science. I'm looking at engineering.

RQ: Any unusual courses that you are taking out there?
No, nothing really unusual.

RQ: Five weeks into this season, where do you expect to be in five more weeks? How do you feel at this point?
I'm feeling very good [regarding] how my season is going. You never know what is going to happen and you don't know what other people are doing, but I'm going to be stronger in five weeks, I think. Hopefully, I can run a faster time at nationals. My goal is to perform for the team in these next few weeks, so we can reach our goals as a team.

RQ: How was it returning to the east coast for the [Finish Lynx/Murray Keatinge Invitational]?
That race was fun. I love being in New England. It was wonderful to run as a pack. It was a great atmosphere. I'm really glad we went.

RQ: From the pictures, it looked like it was really fun. What were you talking about?
(Laughs) We were encouraging each other. We were talking about...we wanted to finish together. We didn't talk much, but we did give an occasional cheer for Stanford to keep everybody motivated.

RQ: 17:05. How does it feel to run that as easily as it looked?
That was a breakthrough for me. To run 17:05, which is a personal record for me, and still have something to give assures me that I'm stronger than I've ever been.

RQ: Do you get homesick being so far away?
Sure, I think about home a lot, but I'm happy here. My parents know that. We talk a lot. I'm pretty happy with my situation.

RQ: Do you plan to fly back for summer next year, or have you thought about it?
I'll go home for winter, which is a three week break, and then I'll go home for the summer.

RQ: Do you intend to run the [USA Junior Cross Country Championships]?
Junior cross country is definitely up in the air. I'm probably not going to focus on that. I'm actually going to be training for the 1,500 in track. All my training is looking at training for the 1,500 so I'm going to be moving into indoor track after cross country. I'll be thinking about track races more than cross country.

RQ: Are you pretty excited about your prospects in track?
Yes, I am. I don't know what I can do. I love track and I think, if I can really work in my speed, my cross country base will carry me through. I'll be thrilled if I get back to where I was, but I definitely think I can improve. I'm excited.

RQ: I know you love the mile and 1,500m, but do you see yourself as a 1,500m/800m runner or [would you move] up to the 5,000m?
Right now, I still think of myself as a 1,500m/ miler. There's definitely a possibility of moving up. A lot of women do that. My coach and I talked about it, and I'm not running a 5,000 this year at all.

RQ: Will you run the 800m?
Probably, I will. Possibly the 1,200m in relays as well.

RQ: Do you envision yourself being competitive at 800m?
The 800 will probably not be my best event, but yeah, I think I'm competitive.

(Interview conducted October 20, 2003, Posted October 26, 2003)

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