Road to Fast with Mel Lawrence: The College Glory Days
Hi super-fans! Superstar Mel Lawrence last told us about her recruiting process and deciding on UW. In this next installation, we wanted find out about her freshman/sophomore years at UW...when by all appearances she was riding high and racing fast
SL: Tell us about arriving for training at UW as your freshman year started. Impressions, funny stories, any feelings of intimidation?
ML: I think like most 18-year olds, I was very, very excited to get to go to college. My mom, dad and I drove up from Reno, and when you're driving North on I-5, you come around a curve in the freeway, and suddenly the city comes into view. It's beautiful. Most people who have driven north into Seattle should know what I'm talking about. Anyways, I got so excited in the car and ever since then I've called it "Mel's view."
UW is on the quarter system, so we had about a month from when we arrived on campus before school started. It was really nice to take that time to get settled in and adapt to the new training. I remember running through the Arb the first week we were there and thinking I was never going to figure out my way through there. There were quite a few runs like this, and my roommate, Lauren Saylor, and I actually got lost trying to run to Green Lake. We ended up on Lake City somewhere. Still not sure how we managed that....
Having time between arriving and school starting was also a really good time to hang out and get to know everyone. I had a small women's class, but the men's class was pretty big. We all got along really well, and the upperclassmen were really nice as well. I never remember feeling too intimidated by anyone (except Anita haha but she's one of my best friends now!).
SL: As freshman cross season got going, how did you adapt? How did the team finish that year? Was there one take-away from that season?
ML: I felt like I adapted pretty well at first, but it was also a little overwhelming and discouraging at times. I was a top recruit coming out of high school but racing and training in college is a different beast. I wasn't prepared to get my butt kicked as much and as often as I did in workouts and races. But it made me better! It's hard to come into a brand-new program and training system and immediately succeed. Some people can, but I didn't, and I was little naive thinking I would. That year at NCAA we got 7th, and I think at the time it was one of the best finishes UW had ever had, so it was a really positive experience and we had a lot of building momentum for the next year.
PC: Paul Merca
SL: For the remainder of freshman year (indoors, outdoors) what were your goals? Did you have bumps in the road? Looking back, are there any things you wish you had done differently?
ML: I didn't have goals for that season running wise. I got my first injury (stress fracture in my right tibia) and was pretty down in the dumps about it. I thought about transferring, and I was a pain in the ass. I can guarantee that I gave Coach Metcalf a few grey hairs that spring. He was so patient with me. It's so much easier said than done (especially in a new training environment with your first injury), but I wish I would have been a little more patient and level headed.
SL: Your sophomore year your XC team won NCAA's, and swept 1-6th at Pac-10's, against an Oregon team that was ranked 3rd in the country!!! That seems incredible. Tell us about that season. Did you fully appreciate it at the time? What is your fondest memory looking back, or ways you can appreciate it now that you didn't at the time?
ML: That season was incredible. I don't have adequate words for it. We described what we had going on as "synergy." We were such a cohesive group that couldn't be broken. Or at least that's what it felt like. I appreciated every single moment of the season, and I still think about it. Pac 10's that year was definitely my favorite. I personally have never felt that good in a race; to this day I still haven't. It was the first time that season that we raced Oregon, and to be so dominant on that day was so exciting. It was an unreal experience.
SL: Real-time update: Mel you crushed indoors! 4th at USA Indoors in the 3k, and a shiny new PR of 8:50! It's so exciting to see you at a new place in your training. We can't tell you enough: you are a testament to staying the course. What are you looking forward to for the next few months? Do you know your race schedule?
ML: Thanks! I really wanted to race a full indoor season this year, and I was excited and happy that it fell into place and I was able to make it happen.
For the next few months, I'm looking forward to getting in some good track workouts and gearing up for outdoor season. It's an off year so I plan on changing up my racing schedule a little bit. I want to get better at other events while still making the steeple my primary event. The off year (no world champs) makes it easier to do that and experiment and get stronger. Right now the plan is to open up at the Tenacious 10 (whoop whoop!) and run the 10k. Talking with Lauren about it, it gives me a little more time to do some strength workouts. From there I'll do a 5k at Payton Jordan 2 weeks later, and for now that's all I have planned!
Thanks Mel, we’re ready to cowbell hard!