We had an opportunity to chat with St. Joseph Notre Dame senior, Kiera Marshall (photo above courtesy of her twitter account at @kier_mar). This past weekend, Marshall announced that she will be attending University of Washington next fall where she will continue to participate on both the Cross Country and Track and Field teams. This past fall, Marshall won her first section title by winning the NCS MOC meet at Hayward High School. She followed that up by winning her first state championship at Woodward Park in Division V. Fellow senior and teammate, Cooper Teare, also won the boys' individual title making them the 4th pair of California teammates to win individual state titles in the same season. For those historians out there, the other duos were Bryan Dameworth and Deena Drossin (Agoura) in '87 and '89, Austin and Katie Fritzke (Mt. Shasta) '04, German Fernandez and Maritza Garcia (Riverbank) '05. Marshall went on to qualify for the Footlocker National meet at Balboa Park where she finished in 26th place. Cover photo courtesy of Ben Crawford.
1) You have decided to attend University of Washington next fall to continue your academic and athletic pursuits. How did you go about narrowing your choices and in deciding to attend the UW?
When I started my college search I was really looking for a school where I could get a balance between running and academics. I plan on pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering, which a lot of schools don't have, so my initial search was just finding the best running programs that also have good science and engineering programs. After I found the right schools, I went on my officials and narrowed it there. I picked University of Washington because I felt it was the best choice for me and there were so many things that I liked about it.
2) Looking back at your last cross country season, what do you feel were your best races and proudest accomplishments?
I think my best races this past cross country season were Woodbridge and Footlocker west regionals. Woodbridge was my first race of the season and I felt that I ran it really well. My goal was to go sub 17 and I ran 16:49 so I was really happy with that race. At footlocker west regionals my plan was to stay around sixth or seventh place during the race and finish top ten to qualify for nationals and I ran it almost exactly as I planned. It's one of my proudest accomplishments because it's one of my best executed races even with all the pressure I had put on myself to do well.
3) Did you do anything different during the summer to prepare for your senior XC season? Aside from focusing more in practice and training harder I drastically changed my mindset towards racing after my track season. I had a disappointing end to track last year and I wasn't happy with how I performed. Heading into the cross country season I changed how I raced, making sure that I was the one pushing myself and not waiting for other people to make a move so that I could follow.
4) What does a typical training week look like for you now? Distance of long run? Pace of most recovery runs? Any morning runs? Strength work?
A typical week of training for me would be easy, recovery runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These are usually 50 minutes at 7-7:15 pace. I also do morning runs on those days, which are 30 minutes, and our core routine. Tuesday and Thursday are hard workouts at the track, followed by arm and legs circuits in the weight room. Saturday's are another workout day. On Sunday I'll a long run usually 10-12 miles. When we have races our week will be a little different catering to the race that we are running and which day it is on.
5) How did you get your start in running? Did you compete before attending high school?
I didn't really start running until sophomore year. I played volleyball and soccer and during the spring of freshman year I decided to start track along with doing club volleyball. I went to about 3-4 practices a week and one of those practices was usually spent with the hurdlers (because I thought I could be good at that, I was wrong). But Tony, my coach, saw my potential and told me to run cross country. But I played volleyball which was the same season as cross country so I told him I couldn't. He asked me to train with the team over the summer to see if I liked it, and by the time school started there was not question: I was going to run. I got so close to the team and I ended up really enjoying running, so I gave up volleyball and later I gave up soccer to completely focus on running.
6) When do you feel like you made the jump to your current level as a runner? What do you feel was the impetus for the improvement that you made? When did you realize you had a future in running?
Around the middle to end of my cross country season junior year I realized that I could actually be really good at running if I tried a little harder. Up until that point I wasn't really taking it very seriously. I would go to practice everyday and do all the workouts but I wasn't putting my full effort into it. But around the middle of my junior year cross country season, and especially after I had gotten second at state for the second time, I told myself that I was going change things. The next track season really showed the extra effort I was giving in order to improve. I had some major PR's and I only wanted to get faster and faster. I would say that was when I realized that I could have a good future in running. I saw the potential that I had only begun to tap into and I kept training hard and getting better.
7) Who are your coaches and how have they helped you achieve your athletic goals?
My two coaches, Tony Fong and Alex Mason, are two of the most important people in my life. Without them I would not be anywhere close to where I am now and I owe everything that I have accomplished to them. They are both so knowledgable about the sport and they know me so well that they can push me to the exact point that I need to do my best. Without them I wouldn't be a runner and I'm so grateful that I have them as coaches. But, not only have they been influential to my athletic career, they have become part of my life and we're all like one big family.
8) As you look ahead to the Track and Field season, what are the races that you are most looking forward to and do you have any goals that you would like to share?
I'm most looking forward to Arcadia and the state meet. I didn't run at the state meet last year but I my goal is to make it this year. My goals for this upcoming season are 4:50 in the 1600 and 10:20 in the 3200.
9) Favorite XC course? Favorite XC invitational? Favorite XC workout? Favorite TF event? Favorite TF invitational? Favorite TF workout? Favorite long run? Favorite St. Joseph Notre Dame tradition? Favorite free time activity?
My favorite XC course is probably Woodbridge because it was so fast and running under the lights was really fun. But my favorite invitational would have to be Mt. Sac. I find it's more of a test than a race because it's so challenging, but crossing the finish line is always rewarding. My favorite XC workout is what we call piedmont loops, which are repeats about 1200m long that we do in the Oakland hills. My favorite track distance is the 3200m. My favorite track invitational is Arcadia, there's always a great atmosphere and it produces really fast time. I would say my favorite track workout is 7x1000m because, although it's not the easiest, it gives the biggest payoff throughout the season. For a long run, I like to go into the Oakland hills and do 11 miles in Joaquin Miller and Redwood. My absolute favorite Saint Joe's tradition is our post run meals. On some Saturdays after the workout we'll go to a breakfast place in Alameda called Jim's and sometimes during the week after practice we'll go to on of the Chinese restaurants in Alameda called Hong Kong City. In my free time I'll probably be doing something with my friends.
10) Who are the runners that have had the biggest impact to your success and this could be current and former SJND runners as well as runners from other schools?
The girls on my team have been very impactful to my success because they're always there to support me. We're like a little family, I want to do well for them and they want me to do well too, so we all support each other. Also having a teammate like Cooper has had an impact on my performances as well. He works so hard and seeing him accomplish so many amazing motivates me to do better and run the best I can.
11) From your own experiences, what would your advice be for younger runners looking to be successful in both XC and TF?
My advice to younger runners is dedication is key to success. If you want to excel at something you have to put all your efforts into it, you can't sit back and expect good things to happen. You would be surprised by what you're capable of when you give it your all.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
I want to thank anyone who has supported me over the years and helped me get to where I am today.
Thank you very much for your time Kiera! AJC