Megan Rolland is one of our OG Haute Volée. After slowly but steadily improving for several years, Megan took a chance on herself and decreased her work schedule to go for her goals in 2016. She had an amazing season: PR’s in every distance from 1500 to 5K and a 7th place finish in the 3K steeple at the Olympic Trials. Megan lets us in on her thought process and tips for progress.
Note from Megan: "I have struggled so much about virtually stopping nursing to pursue running. I came from a very poor family and was the first person in my family to go to college. After nursing school, I got a great job and my family was super proud. It was really hard to make the jump to full time running, and the guilty feelings continued especially through 2015 when I had a less than stellar year. The flyway blogs have put into words how hard a transition can be and that when something feels right you just have to go for it!"
LESKO: YOU CAME OUT OF THE GATE BLAZING INDOORS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A RACE (OR TWO) THAT WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN YOUR PROGRESSION?
MEGAN: I ended my 2015 season at USAs devastated. I had my worst race ever and practically had to crawl to the finish line of the steeple prelim. I was injured, embarrassed and not sure if I even wanted to continue running. After the emotions settled down I had a great conversation with my coach and he made me start believing in myself again. One positive thing about myself is I can usually take a situation, break it down piece by piece and really see where I need to make changes. I knew my fitness wasn't really the issue. My problems were all in my head. I kept thinking I didn't really belong here. My confidence was low and I was scared as soon as I stepped to the starting line. I started working with a sports psychologist, Adrienne Langelier (I met her at bird camp!). I started thinking about where I feel most confident and that is usually in an ER room taking care of someone really sick. I have been an ER nurse for the past 5 years and when a code or trauma comes in you go into a mode where you just get it done. I am confident I will get the IV in even if compressions are going on or people keep jostling me to get to their tasks. I am confident I can look at someone and know almost immediately if they are having a true emergency. I started taking these methods with me into my running and really put them into practice during the indoor season. Indoors was all about practicing feeling strong and courageous. Challenge the leaders, embrace the discomfort and to let go of this concept of "failure." I started getting excited about racing again instead of dreading the discomfort I knew was coming. I think the biggest 2 races for me during the winter season was USA cross country championships in Bend where I placed 5th and then a week later running a qualifying time for USA indoors in the 3k. I was able to put together all the tools I had been working on.
L: TELL US ABOUT YOUR GOAL-SETTING FOR 2016. HOW DID THAT EVOLVE OVER THE SEASON?
M: Every summer my coach and I sit down and talk about how we want the entire year to shape out. For 2016 it was all about the Trials. Every race I ran and every phase of training centered around being ready to roll July 4th. My goals were to first qualify for the Trials then qualify for the final. The goals remained pretty consistent over the season. The thing that changed the most for me was at first these were just words and sentences I wrote on a piece of paper. As the season progressed and I kept hitting the progress goals and PR-ing in every distance, these goals became more concrete. In the beginning I would look at them and immediately get nervous with butterflies but as outdoors got into full swing, when I saw them I would grin knowing I was absolutely going to make it happen. It was a big mind shift change for me that developed over the winter months.
L: AS WHAT POINT DID YOU REALIZE YOU WERE GOING TO HAVE A BREAKTHROUGH? WAS IT A WORKOUT, A FEELING, OR WHAT?
M: I knew I was in great shape, injury free and ready to run fast. I remember about a week out from Portland Track Festival and feeling like this was the race that I was going to absolutely go for it. I had my usual race plan and my training partner was also in the same race with the same big goals and we knew we could work together to make it happen. I was unusually calm for this race. I had this weird feeling I never had before at the starting line. I remember I even smiled on the line and usually I am all about the game face. Before the gun went off I knew if I was going to PR, this was going to be it. When I crossed the finish line I saw 9:36 and was still in shock even though I had told myself something special was going to happen. It was still one of the best feelings I have ever had. My coach doesn't give out hugs often but he gave me the biggest hug after that race. :)
L: THE OLYMPIC TRIALS, YOU WERE THE EMBODIMENT OF BRAVERY. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU APPROACHED THE PRELIM AND FINAL? A MEMORABLE MOMENT FOR ME WAS WHEN YOU WERE CHALLENGING (AMERICAN RECORD HOLDER) EMMA COBURN FOR THE LEAD. CAN YOU TAKE US INSIDE YOUR HEAD AT THAT MOMENT?
M: I thought I was going to get to Hayward Field and feel the elephant on my shoulders from last USAs. I got there a few days early to acclimate and the entire time I just had so much FUN! I loved the facilities and watching the other races. I soaked up the atmosphere and could not stop smiling the whole week. My plan for the prelim was to get out early to avoid traffic, which can lead to trouble in the steeple. Last year at 2015 there were so many falls and traffic jams. I remember coming around the first lap and it was really slow and my coach told me to start going, so without hesitation I found myself in the front with the American record holder. One of my biggest keys to successful races is staying in the moment; the prelim race I was able to do that for the entirety. I don't remember what lap it was but I was approaching the water jump and accelerated and passed Coburn for a few seconds. My family plus the 100+ Oiselle family were sitting right at the water pit and roar of the crowd was something I will never forget. I knew at that moment that I would make it to the final. I was definitely more nervous for the final. I tried to approach it the same way as the prelim. I raced a little more hesitant and not as courageous but I still walked away with a PR and feeling of immense satisfaction.
L: WHAT HAS YOUR TRAINING BEEN LIKE THIS FALL? TELL US ABOUT SOME OF YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEXT THREE MONTHS.
M: My training has been going pretty well. I had a little setback that landed me in the pool for a few weeks but I am back to running now and ready for another great winter. Fall training is all about the base, tempo work, strength work and building a strong foundation for a great outdoors. I would love to run a fast flat 3k at the Dempsey this year and then try and make a Worlds team in USA cross in Bend, OR. Depending on what happens at those 2 races will determine if I will run USA Indoors once more.
L: YOU ARE ONE OF THE BENEFICIARIES OF THE EMERGING ELITE FUND WHICH IS FUNDED BY THE VOLÉE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT OISELLE TEAM MEANS TO YOU?
M: The Oiselle team has been so instrumental to my success. I was a decent Division II runner but had no hope in securing a running contract. In fact, I didn't even really know I could run at an elite level. I joined Oiselle in 2010 because I loved to run. I had a nursing career and I still trained when I had time and raced a few times when I could afford to take off work to travel to a meet. As Oiselle started growing as a company, I started growing as runner and person. Oiselle has always been there encouraging me, lifting me up and making me believe I could start dreaming about goals I didn't even know I had. I have met so many wonderful women over the years through Oiselle and am inspired daily on social media by the stories everyone shares. Without this team I never would have taken the leap of faith into the elite running world. I never would have experienced walking around a stadium to the starting line with over 20,000 people cheering away simply because they love running as much as I do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Oiselle team members for making the Haute Volée possible.