Interview With Kristin Price
By Alison Wade

Kristin Price on her way to a 15:35.67 PR at the 2002 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
All Photos: Alison Wade/New York Road Runners
Price wins the 2002 NCAA 10,000m title.
All Photos: Alison Wade/New York Road Runners
Price on her way to a 7th-place finish in the 5,000m at the 2002 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Price finishes fourth at the 2001 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
NC State Bios: Track | Cross Country
Wolfpack Cross Country ready to go the distance (Aug. 2002)
A Brief Chat with Kristin Price (June 2002)
Price wins national championship (June 2002)

As a freshman running for Virginia Tech, Kristin Price burst onto the national scene when she finished fourth in the 3,000m at the 2001 NCAA Indoor Championships with a PR 9:18.77. She followed that up with a 10th-place finish (16:11.60) at the NCAA Outdoor Championships later that spring. She set seven school records in her first year of college before transferring to NC State her sophomore year.

If there was any question as to whether or not Price had made the right move, she answered it convincingly by finishing fourth at the 2001 NCAA Cross Country Championships at Furman University, leading her NC State team to a second-place finish. During the indoor season, she picked up two more All-American certificates, finishing 7th in the 5,000 and 10th in the 3,000 at the 2002 NCAA Indoor Championships.

And the best was yet to come. During the outdoor season, Price won both the 10,000 (33:39.66) and the 5,000 (16:16.04) on consecutive days at the ACC Championships. Competing in only her second 10,000 ever, Price outkicked her competition to win her first NCAA Championship, running 34:26.63 on a hot and humid night in Baton Rouge, LA. She topped her season off by finishing 6th in the 5,000 at the USA Track & Field Nationals with a personal-best time of 15:35.67. You've opted to remain in North Carolina this summer, what are you up to?
Kristin Price: I'm working in the lab for the food science department and working at an ice cream place.

FW: What kind of work are you doing in the lab?
KP: There are two projects - one has to do with whey protein and nougat and the other is with protein drinks. I'm doing sensory analysis on the protein drinks and with the nougat, we're trying to put whey protein instead of egg protein into it. (Editor's Note: She's a food science major.)

FW: What about the ice cream place?
KP: It's a really unique place, if you get a tip you have to sing a little song. It's fun... It's just a side job to get a little extra cash.

FW: Are you living on campus?
KP: I have an apartment off campus.

FW: How's your training going?
KP: It's going pretty well. The summer is just kind of relaxed. With cross country, indoor and outdoor track it's a long season, I just kind of relax during the summer and not push it too hard.

FW: Have your teammates stuck around so that you have people to run with?
KP: Yeah, a lot of people have been in and out all summer... but there are always people to run with.

FW: How's the weather been down there?
KP: It's been warm and humid.

FW: Does that bother you?
KP: No, actually, I really like it.

FW: What are your goals for the upcoming cross country season?
KP: The big goal is to help out the team as much as possible. We want to definitely be in the top five again. I'm always looking to win, but just to help out the team as much as possible. Individual goals come second in cross country. Winning the individual title would be second in comparison to winning the team title.

FW: You lost several runners (three of the top five) from last year's runner-up team. Do you have anyone that's coming in who can replace them?
KP: Definitely. My sister redshirted last year, so she'll be back. And we have a few redshirts, incoming freshman and transfers. We definitely have people to step up.

FW: Who are some of those transfers and freshmen?
KP: Renee Gunning from Villanova and [Lucinda and Claudin Hull] from Lehigh. [The freshmen include] Julia Lucas (from North Carolina), Kris Roth from Ohio and Amy Arnold from Ohio as well. All three of them are going to add to the team a lot, I think.

FW: Obviously, in retrospect, transferring to NC State was a good move for you. Why did you decide to leave Virginia Tech?
KP: There were two reasons, athletic and academic. One, because the coaches were leaving. I really liked my coach [Lori Taylor] at Virginia Tech. She knew the coaches that were coming in and she didn't know if that would be the best situation for me, if those coaches had the same philosophy as she did. But she knew that Coaches (Rollie) Geiger and (Laurie) Henes here at NC State kind of had the same coaching philosophy. So she kind of directed me that way.

Academically, I was going to go into food science at Virginia Tech and then I found out that NC State had such a good food science department. So between both of them, it just seemed like the right choice.

FW: Did the fact that Kara (her twin sister) was transferring to NC State as well (from Radford) influence your decision?
KP: We made individual decisions, it just happened to be the same one.

FW: What has been different about the running experience at NC State compared to Virginia Tech?
KP: The weather (laughs). I really liked running at Tech, and the team and everything. I think at NC State the team is at a little bit higher of a level, it's more competitive - in a good way - among the team, and we can be competitive with a lot of other good teams as well. It definitely becomes a team sport.

FW: What's it like having a twin who runs? Do you train together?
KP: Yes, a little bit. It gets competitive sometimes, but we try to work that out. It's fun though, you always have someone to run with, you're never stuck running by yourself. But we just try to run with different people sometimes.

FW: Are you identical twins?
KP: They actually didn't know. It would have been a really expensive blood test to find out. My parents weren't too concerned about it.

FW: Kara redshirted the entire year last year. Was it injury-related or development-related?
KP: During cross country she was injured, she had a stress fracture. And going into indoor and outdoor [track], she didn't really have too much experience... So the coaches decided to redshirt everything and just get it out of the way.

FW: You haven't redshirted at all. Do you have any plans to?
KP: We haven't really talked about it, nothing this year unless, of course, I get injured. But I haven't really thought about it too much.

FW: We read that you didn't run cross country until your senior year of high school because you played soccer. Did you run track before that?
KP: Yeah, I ran all four years [of high school]. [Freshman year track] was just for fun, kind of just to stay in shape for soccer. Sophomore and junior years were a little more serious, and then by senior year, I knew I was going to run in college.

FW: Do you remember any of your best times from your freshman year?
KP: My mile time from freshman year was a 5:28.

FW: What about senior year?
KP: My mile time was a 5:01, my two-mile was 11:12 and I think my 800 was like a 2:19.

FW: Do you have any idea how you were able to improve so much from your senior year of high school to your freshman year of college?
KP: I really don't know. I got a training schedule the summer before my freshman year at Tech. I followed it every single day, to a 'T'. Going in to the cross country season, I felt like I was in the best shape I'd been in since high school. Cross country my freshman year didn't go so well though. I still made improvements from high school, but I still wasn't where I knew I could be. That winter I took a long break and didn't really even run too much. I just kind of relaxed, I think I was really worn out from the summer because I had followed [the schedule] so exactly, it just kind of wears on you mentally. I took kind of a longer break during Christmas break. I came back during indoor and I don't know what happened. I thought I was going to be really out of shape, because I didn't really do anything, but I felt really, really good. Everything just seemed to go really well from there.

FW: When you were a senior in high school, did you ever think that you'd be an NCAA Champion?
KP: Oh my gosh, no. No way. Even during [my freshman cross country season] at Tech, I never even thought about it. I never even considered making it to NCAAs or anything.

FW: When you used to go to races and run against teams like NC State, were you intimidated?
KP: Yeah, oh my goodness. We didn't even go to that many meets where teams like that ran... It didn't even enter my mind that I could run with people from NC State, Stanford, Duke or UNC... You just kind of go and watch it but you don't really think you could do that, I guess.

FW: Was there a race that served as a turning point, where you realized that you were a much better runner than you'd ever been before?
KP: Probably the first indoor track meet (her freshman year), I ran a 9:49 3,000 and it was 10 seconds off of [the provisional qualifying time for the NCAA Championships]. I didn't even know about NCAAs or anything. Once I found out about all that, I think it really hit me that I could try to make it that year.

FW: Once you realized that your body was capable of such performances, did you have any trouble convincing yourself mentally that you were a top runner who compete with the best of them?
KP: Well the first year it was great because I didn't really have anything to prove. I just basically had to go run. If I lost, I lost. I didn't have any pressure to win or anything. It was kind of fun because I could see that my times were improving so much from high school. It was really encouraging and fun and every race I just wanted to go out and try to set another PR.

This past year was kind of hard mentally because I was kind of putting a lot of pressure on myself. I had the goals that I wanted to achieve and times that I wanted to get, and was trying to compare it to the year before. It was a lot of mental stress, I guess. Knowing what I had done, knowing what I wanted to do, and knowing what I thought I was supposed to be able to do, it was a lot. But I got through it. I'm a real strong Christian so I could definitely put my faith [in that].

FW: Have you met those expectations and do you feel like the pressure has been lifted? Or does it intensify?
KP: Yeah, actually, it kind of does get worse. Last year I thought, 'Oh, I just have to get through this year and then it'll be fine,' but it does get worse. I think there's a lot of pressure going into this year, but whatever happens, happens. There's a plan. I have a real strong faith that God has a plan for my career in running, so whatever happens, happens.

FW: Can you talk a bit about your freshman cross country season? It looks like you didn't compete in that many races?
KP: We didn't really race too, too much. I missed, I think, one race, I just wasn't really ready for it. It wasn't that great of a season. It was the whole just getting adjusted to college, going to classes, practicing in the morning. It was just a bunch of stuff.

FW: Has it been difficult for you to balance academics and athletics in college?
KP: It kind of gets to be a pain taking work on the bus or on a plane, that kind of gets annoying. It's kind of hard to try things done before you leave or have [work] due earlier. Little stuff like that tends to be a pain but for the most part a lot of teachers are pretty understanding and work with you a lot... You bring [your work along] like you're going to do it on the plane, but that never happens (laughs).

FW: How did you get interested in Food Science?
KP: Actually a friend from Virginia Tech was in the major, she used to run on the team and I was talking to her... I didn't know her major and she was talking about the different classes she was taking or something... I had never heard of [Food Science] before, I talked to [someone in the department] at Virginia Tech and it seemed like it was the major I wanted, so it just kind of worked out that way.

FW: Have you learned things in your classes that you can apply to fueling yourself for running?
KP: Kind of, it's not really too much to do with the nutrition part, but more the components of food and stuff like that... A little bit but not too, too much.

FW: Is this an area in which you'd like to pursue a career?
KP: Yeah, as soon as running's over, I'll definitely start looking... I want to run as long as I can, but I know I need something else with the running. So right after I'm done will classes I'll probably try to get a job in that area. I'd like to coach at a college, but there are limited opportunities in that...

FW: But you definitely want to pursue a professional running career once you're done with college?
KP: Yeah, I just want to try to run as long as I can... Just try to get to the next level each time I go out for a run, so as far as that'll take me.

FW: What kind of training do you do during the cross country season in terms of mileage and workouts?
KP: Mileage-wise, last year I think I did one week at 70, but usually it's around 65. I'm not really a high-mileage runner, I don't do over 100, or over 70 even. I talked to my coaches and we figured it would be better for my training if I do a little bit lower mileage but with higher intensity. It just seems to work out a little bit better for me. We do two workouts a week, usually on Tuesday and Friday. If we have a Saturday race... [Our coaches] have like 10 different charts for one month planned out, incase you feel bad on this day... They're very organized. They'll look back in our logs from this past year and if we raced well in [a particular] race, they'll try to replicate what we did the week before. They look to see what works and try to stick with that.

FW: What are some of the staple workouts you do?
KP: We do 8 x 1,000 all the time, probably at least once every two weeks... We do a lot of tempo runs during cross country... With warmup, tempo and cooldown, the whole thing might be anywhere between eight and 10 miles, probably closer to eight.

FW: What surface do you do these workouts on?
KP: During cross country we usually stay on the grass, we don't really get on the track too much, except towards the end. Last year - because Furman was so flat - we did some speed stuff on the track which we thought would help, and it did. But for the most part we stay on the grass. We have this big intramural field that's exactly 1,000 meters around, so we loop around that a lot.

FW: Do you do morning runs?
KP: Usually I do about two or three morning runs a week. I like doing morning runs, not necessarily to make mileage, but just to get awake for the day.

FW: Do you ever crosstrain?
KP: Yeah, actually my sister and I bike a lot. [Our bikes] got stolen this year, so we were really mad about that and we had to replace them, but we do a lot of biking. We did a lot of that this summer. It's fun, it's nice for an alternative to running.

FW: What about weight lifting?
KP: A little bit. Last summer I did a lot. My dad really pushes for the weight lifting, he thinks it's very important. I completely agree with him, I don't like doing it though. I did a little bit this summer. We do a lot of general strength training with just our own body weight, like pushups and pullups.

FW: What distance do you ultimately focus on in track?
KP: I don't know. I think if you asked me before U.S. Nationals, I'd say the 10,000 because things seemed to be going well in that. After U.S. Nationals, I'm kind of leaning towards the 5,000 again. So, until I have a bad experience in the 10,000 - because I haven't had too much experience with it - but as soon as I have that bad one... just kidding. I don't know, it's hard to say. I like both of them equally.

FW: Speaking of U.S. Nationals, there were a bunch of NCAA runners who qualified but opted not to go, why did you decide to compete there?
KP: Just for the experience, to get a good, solid race in. I kind of debated whether to do it or not. Laurie Henes left it up to me... I was really kind of leaning towards not doing it because I wanted to end my season on a good note... I just decided to do it and I'm really glad now that I did. It's kind of neat running against Deena Drossin and Marla Runyan, and seeing Regina Jacobs run. It's really cool to be at a meet like that.

FW: What did you learn from the experience?
KP: I was very nervous going into it. I was just joking around, saying 'I hope I don't get lapped by Deena Drossin and Marla Runyan in the 5,000.' And I was kind of really relaxed going into it because I wasn't supposed to win or anything... I think because things went so well, I've learned that I can just relax a little bit more when it comes time for big races.

(Interview conducted 8/6/02. Posted 8/16/02)

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