Interview with Lindsay Donaldson
By Parker Morse

Lindsay Donaldson (left) runs with Christine Laakso in the first mile of the Massachusetts DI State XC Championships.
(All Photos: Alison Wade/New York Road Runners)
Earlier in the season, Donaldson hung with Saratoga Springs (NY) HS's Nicole Blood at the Brown Invitational...
...Donaldson actually led Blood at the three-mile mark, but was outkicked in the final meters and finished second in 16:54.

Lindsay Donaldson of Lincoln-Sudbury (MA) High School, has already made a name for herself on the track, with two state-championship miles and a win at the adidas Boston Indoor meet last year. This year she gave up soccer for her first-ever season of cross country, and put up some impressive marks there as well, highlighted by a 16:54 at the Brown Invitational, which would have broken Ari Lambie's course record if Nicole Blood hadn't arrived at the finish two seconds earlier. A senior, Donaldson has applied early-action to Yale and is awaiting their decision.

Donaldson dominated her Eastern Massachusetts competition for most of the fall, and won her third state title at Western Massachusetts' Northfield Mountain last Saturday. Her winning time of 18:46 on the challenging 5k course put her 25 seconds ahead of Fitchburg's Christine Laakso. We talked with Donaldson immediately after the race.

Q: How many state championships does this make?
Lindsay Donaldson:
Three. One in indoor, one in outdoor. I think. This is my first season of cross country.

Q: Have you been surprised at how your first season of cross country has gone?
Yeah, definitely. I didn't expect a lot of things about cross country. I love the whole team aspect. It's different from indoor and outdoor track. I just love the whole team. We had so much fun yesterday.

Q: Is it a big charge to cross that line first for a state championship?
It's fun. I like it. But I don't really value the individual championships as much as the whole experience, with the team and all. I try not to think about that sort of thing. Right now I'm kind of worried because I didn't see one of my teammates finish, and I don't know where she is. [Editor's Note: Lincoln-Sudbury finished ninth in the team race with places 1, 35, 60, 62, 64, 82 and 88.]

Q: It must be nice to have the whole team along instead of coming by yourself.
Yes, I was so happy last week when we qualified. We barely made it because we were fifth at Class B's. Our boys team [who didn't qualify], and some of the girls who weren't in our seven, came out and cheered for us this morning. They woke up really early to drive out and see us.

Q: How did you approach the race, and that first hill in particular?
When we started there was one girl from Wachusett who really charged out and went up the hill really fast. I knew I shouldn't go with her, because I didn't want to burn myself out on the very first stretch. My coach was on the hill, and he told me not to go with her and to stay with the front pack. There were four of us, but pretty soon it was just two, and we passed the Wachusett girl near the top of the hill. [Christine Laakso] stayed with me until we came out of the woods over here [near the two-mile mark]. That was pretty much the plan. I was even planning to stay with the front pack for a bit more, and then break away at the very end. It broke apart before then, so I couldn't follow through on the plan. I was planning on a working on a fast finish, the last 300 meters or so.

Q: After the mile mark, did you stretch out a bit?
Oh, definitely. There was a good half-mile or so that was more like recovery, to get my legs back underneath me. The hill in the first mile is hard. It was definitely different from the courses I've run on before. But it wasn't as bad as I've heard. The first hill was tough, but I guess it helps to have it at the beginning of the race. It was good to have it out of the way and know that it wasn't going to be that tough again.

Q: How would you compare this, as far as effort goes, with a flat course like the Brown Invitational?
It's definitely a different sort of effort. Not just the course is very different; the competition, like, in this race there are different people and a different atmosphere. It was the team competition and we're worried about the team results, not just individual. And the course is a different sort of challenge than at Brown.

Q: Did you change your training significantly coming up to this meet?
No, not at all. I'm taking it one meet at a time, seeing how it goes. Two weeks from today I'll run again [at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional in Van Cortlandt Park.]

Q: Have you run there before?
No, I've never been down there before.

Q: Have you thought about the kind of preparations you'll make?
Not really. We haven't thought about that yet, we're taking it one meet at a time.

Q: Are you looking forward to racing Nicole Blood again?
I guess so. I'm not really thinking about that right now. I don't really focus on just one person. I'm mostly hoping to cross in the top eight.

(Interview conducted November 15, 2003, posted November 18, 2003.)

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