Interview with #2 400m. runner in the nation, Menlo School's Madeline Price

Picture above courtesy of Menlo School and SF Examiner.
1)  How did you get your start in Track and Field?  What were some of your highlights before HS?
I started running just for fun on the Menlo Middle School track and cross country teams when I was in 6th grade. Jorge Chen (my current coach) saw me playing soccer and basketball and thought I had some speed so he was the one who first convinced me to try it. I started running a bit more competitively by my 8th grade year when I went to the Junior Olympic Nationals in Sacramento. I think one of my highlights in track before high school would be running at the JO nationals. I was so unbelievably nervous before that race because it was my first big meet and I was still so new to the whole track world. I remember my dad talking to me before and giving me one of his classic pep talks and saying I needed to go out and  "pull the trigger". This was the first time he used that phrase and now it is what we say all the time before I race. It basically means to go out and execute and leave everything you have on the track so that when you walk off it, you feel like you have done everything you could have done to succeed. I missed the finals by a bit at that meet, but I think it was one of my highlights because of the insane amount of adrenaline I got before and during the race.
2)  You just missed qualifying for the state track and field meet as a freshman when you placed 5th at the CCS meet.  What did you learn from that experience?
Yes it would have been amazing to make it to state, but that year I was just still surprising myself when I started to drop my times. I think as a competitor I am never truly "pleased" with a 5th place performance, but in this instance I was not disappointed in myself and I was happy with the performance I had, especially at my first CCS championships. It also gave me motivation to work harder the next year and try to get higher on the podium so that I could get that berth to the State meet.
3)  You qualified for the state meet as a sophomore in the 400 and then scored a double CCS victory in 400/200 races last year as a junior.  As a two time state meet participant, how do you think that will help you this season?
I think having two State Meet experiences under my belt will definitely help me this year because I have more experience emotionally with the meet. My sophomore year, I remember walking into the State meet and just feeling so overwhelmed by the environment. I started to feel like I didn't belong at a meet like that, and would keep telling myself that "I got 3rd in CCS and belong here", but when that little shadow of doubt comes in, it can be hard to be confident enough to perform at your best. After my sophomore year experience, I came back with more confidence because I knew that I had to walk in like I was the best in order to compete against the best.  So much of track is a mental game and I think I will always be working to try and improve the mental aspects of the 400 ( pre-race, during the race, and even post race).  Now I feel like after having two years at the State Meet, I will be able to come in this year with more confidence that I can win the 400 if I perform at my best. 
4)  During HS, you also ran Cross Country for 2 seasons and also played Basketball for 3 seasons.  What were some of your accomplishments in both sports and was it a difficult decision to turn your focus solely to track?
My high school experience would not have been anywhere near as full and amazing without running crosscountry and playing basketball. One of my highlights in Cross Country would be making it to the State meet my freshman year. I went with my teammate Sam Parker and I felt like no matter how I ended up doing I was so proud and honored to have made it to that meet. For basketball I think the highlight would be winning CCS as a junior. Our team really came together throughout the play offs and started playing like a team which truly helped change our style of play and propel us to the championship and also through to the NorCal semifinals. Choosing not to do basketball was probably one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. I love basketball and wanted to be a part of the team especially as a senior, but I knew that if I wanted to truly be competitive this season in track, that I would have to train harder than ever. Also, not playing gave me the opportunity to run indoors as well. Although it was hard, I think now looking back, I feel like I made the right decision for myself. 
5)  What does a typical week look like for you in terms of training?  What are your most difficult workouts?  How often do you lift?  
My coach doesn't really like when I talk specifics about training and stuff because then I am giving away a lot. But I normally have two hard days, two recovery days and then a technique day each week. I lift twice a week:) 
6)  Tell us a little about your coaches and how they have helped you develop in the runner you are today.
I have been so lucky to have had some amazing coaches who truly care so much about my success on and off the track. Jorge has always been there for me, ever since he got me into running track and taught me the true fundamentals of how to run efficiently. I think in terms of development as a runner, Jorge has been a constant reminder that track is meanr to be fun and not all about the seriousness and intensity of competition and I am so grateful for that. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in going from one race to the next rather than stepping back and enjoying the moment and the sport of track in general. I have pretty much spent every day with Mark Mueller for the last year and a bit, training and working towards my goals. He cares a lot about every detail with every kid that he trains and that is what makes him such a successful coach. He reads about everything and is continuously trying to learn more about track and training to make me and the other athletes better. He has transformed me as a runner over the last few years and I can't thank him enough for that. 
7)  This past weekend, you finished in 2nd place in the 400 and 200 at the Arcadia Invite.  In terms of place and time, how pleased were you with your efforts?
First of all being at Arcadia is just so exciting in itself. The atmosphere there is truly electric because of all of the elite runners there. For the 400 meters, I was so happy about the time that I ran because I had been hoping to get down into the 53's but didn't expect myself to get to 53.4! It was hard after I finished the race and heard my time but also heard my name announced as the second place finisher because my emotions were so mixed. I was initially disappointed in missing the win by a couple hundredths and multiple days after the race I kept replaying the race in my head over and over again thinking about what I could have done to win, but I think that if you are a competitor it is only natural to be upset with missing a win by a tiny bit. But at the end of the day, I walked away from that 400 pleased and excited about the time I had just run and getting a great last experience at Arcadia. My coaches also reminded me that if you are going to get second at any point in your life, it is good to get second and have the time be the number two time in the nation haha so I was definitely happy about that!  For the 200, I wanted to come back and try to take the win, but coming off that turn in the race my legs were already starting to shut down. I was so tired and didn't run my fastest time partially because of that which was hard to get second again, but as I said I am happy with a second place finish at one of the top high schools meets:). 
8)  What are the next big races for you as you look at the rest of this track and field season and beyond?
I am looking forward to CCS and State this year in the high school season because I enjoy being part of those fun meets.  I am also looking forward to going to Canada this summer to compete in the National Junior Championships and hoping to qualify for the World Championships which are in Eugene. 
9)  You have competed in several Canadian track and field junior meets.  What is your affiliation with Canada and what are the meets like over there? 
Yes, actually last year was the first time I had ever competed in Canada and unfortunately missed being a part of the national team by a couple hundredths of a second.  It was so fun to compete internationally and my Grandma got to come watch me run for the first time because she lives in Canada!! Both of my parents were born in Canada and so my sister and I were able to get our Canadian citizenships because of that. So she is also allowed to compete for Canada for lacrosse maybe later on down the road. The meets are very much like the ones here except that everything is in French. After I did a practice start before the 400, the starter lady began to talk in french only and said all of the commands in french. Luckily track commands are really not that complicated and I was able to follow the other girls who stood behind their blocks and then started to get into them, so I wasn't too confused… but it definitely threw me off at first! 
10)  You will compete next year for Duke University.  What led you to choosing Duke and how many other colleges were in the mix?  What do you think will be your strongest events in college?
I think what was so attractive about Duke was that it had such strong sports programs but is also so academically rigorous. The coaches definitely knew what they were doing and cared a lot about the athletes which is something that drew me to the school along with the fact that the team was so welcoming. I knew I wanted to be a part of the school when I went on my visit. Growing up in California, I wanted to go to school somewhere far from home because I know that one day I want to try and live here again because I love it so much! (Also the weather is pretty solid). I looked at a ton of other schools that ranged from Ivy League to smaller Liberal arts schools and bigger schools like Utah, Nebraska, and University of Kentucky. I am hoping to continue to run the 400 in college and be a part of the strong 4 by 400 team that Duke has, but I would also be open to trying to see what I can do with the hurdles when I get there because Duke is known for their multi event athletes and hurdlers.
11)  What is your advice for a talented freshman just starting out in track and field and with goals to get to where you are today?
I think the best piece of advice that I have gotten would be to enjoy the journey and take each day one day at a time. If you put all of your effort and focus into the end result (which is so easy to do in a sport like track where you have one or two big meets you want to make sure to perform well at the end of the season) then its hard to get satisfaction from that one big result, even if you do perform well.  Enjoying the process of track has been one of the key things that has kept me motivated to keep working hard and keep pushing myself. Also I think it is important to recognize the other things in your life that make you happy and make sure to not lose sight of those things. Track is an intense sport that requires so much effort, time and sacrifice, but I have found I execute better in track when I have a balance between training and the other things in life too (whether that be sketching or singing or reading or hanging out with your best friend/sister every weekend). One last thing I just thought of would be to make sure to thank those around you that help you every day, it will not only strengthen the relationships you have with your coaches, family and other support systems, but it will also make you feel good! 
100 Meter Dash (Graph) 12.10
12.18 +0.7 2nd Prelims 2014-04-04 Stanford Invitational »
12.23 +1.1 2nd   2014-04-04 Stanford Invitational »
12.10 1st   2014-03-26 West Bay Athletic League Meet - 1B »
12.31 1st Prelims 2013-05-04 WBAL Trials »
12.80 -1.6 1st   2013-04-13 Junipero Serra Top 7 »
12.26 2nd   2013-04-10 WBAL 3A Meet »
200 Meter Dash (Graph) 24.30
24.52 +0.5 2nd   2014-04-11 Arcadia Invitational »
25.10 1st Prelims 2014-02-13 Simplot Games »
24.47 2nd   2014-02-13 Simplot Games »
25.32 2nd   2014-01-18 Great Southwest Classic Indoor Invitational »
24.83 -0.3 1st Prelims 2013-06-21 USATF Pacific Association Championship »
24.96 +0.4 1st   2013-06-21 USATF Pacific Association Championship »
24.87 7th Prelims 2013-05-31 CIF State Track and Field Championship Prelims and Finals »
24.30 +4.4 1st   2013-05-24 CIF Central Coast Section Finals »
25.04 +1.2 1st Prelims 2013-05-18 CIF Central Coast Section Trials »
24.96 1st Prelims 2013-05-04 WBAL Trials »
24.96 1st Prelims 2013-05-04 WBAL Trials »
24.50 +0.7 1st   2013-04-19 Central Coast Section Top 8 Meet »
25.27 -3.0 2nd   2013-04-13 Junipero Serra Top 7 »
25.10 1st   2013-04-10 WBAL 3A Meet »
300 Meter Hurdles (Graph) 44.93
44.93 1st   2014-03-26 West Bay Athletic League Meet - 1B »
Three Mile Run (Graph) 19:37.00
19:37.00 5th   2010-11-13 Central Coast Section Championships »
400 Meter Dash (Graph) 53.43
53.43 2nd   2014-04-11 Arcadia Invitational »
55.22 1st   2014-04-04 Stanford Invitational »
56.92 1st Prelims 2014-02-13 Simplot Games »
54.69 1st   2014-02-13 Simplot Games »
55.97 1st   2014-01-18 Great Southwest Classic Indoor Invitational »
56.87 1st   2013-07-07 USATF Region 14 Championship (Pacific) »
57.45 1st Prelims 2013-06-21 USATF Pacific Association Championship »
56.21 1st   2013-06-21 USATF Pacific Association Championship »
55.15 1st Prelims 2013-05-31 CIF State Track and Field Championship Prelims and Finals »
54.94 6th   2013-05-31 CIF State Track and Field Championship Prelims and Finals »
54.78 1st   2013-05-24 CIF Central Coast Section Finals »
55.16 1st Prelims 2013-05-18 CIF Central Coast Section Trials »
55.16 1st Prelims 2013-05-18 CIF Central Coast Section Trials »
59.69 1st Prelims 2013-05-04 WBAL Trials »
55.67 1st   2013-04-19 Central Coast Section Top 8 Meet »
56.82 7th   2013-04-05 Arcadia Invitational »
57.27 5th   2013-03-29 Stanford Invitational »
57.46 5th Prelims 2012-06-01 CIF State Track and Field Championship Prelims and Finals »
56.68 3rd   2012-05-26 CIF Central Coast Section Finals »
57.38 4th Prelims 2012-05-19 Central Coast Section Trials »
57.81 1st   2012-05-12 West Bay Athletic League (WBAL) Finals »
58.62 1st   2011-04-01 Frosh/Soph Top 8 Meet »
5,000 Meter Run (Graph) 19:47.00
20:14.00 39th   2011-09-24 Stanford Invitational »
19:47.00 41st   2010-11-27 CIF California State Cross Country Championships »
60 Meter Dash (Graph) 7.81
7.81 3rd   2014-01-18 Great Southwest Classic Indoor Invitational »
800 Meter Run (Graph) 2:23.57
2:23.57 1st   2012-05-12 West Bay Athletic League (WBAL) Finals »
Shot Put (Graph) 29-8.5
29-8.5 3rd Prelims 2013-05-04 WBAL Trials »