Interview with La Costa Canyon junior, McKenna Brown

The junior from La Costa Canyon has scored some impressive wins this season as she works to improve on last year's 10th place finish at the CIF State Meet.

1) Tell us a little about your season so far. Which race do you feel has been your best so far this season? 

I finally got over my injuries from last track season and am starting to improve on my times. I've run faster than last year in all my races and camTe close to breaking 17:00 for 3 miles at the Dana Hills Invitational (ran 17:02). My teammate Kristin Fahy and I pushed each other throughout the race, and it was exciting when we finished first and second. I definitely feel Dana Hills was my best race because I was able to finish strong off a fast pace for me.

2) What is your next big Invitational for you and your team?  Our team is getting ready for Mt. Sac, and I'm really looking forward to the switchbacks and "poop out" hill! (haha) We have a break from invitationals for about a month, which allows us to get some work on the hills.

3) What does a typical training week look like for you? Typical workouts? Longest run? Any morning runs? Strength work? Our training varies, if we have a race on Saturday, then Monday is usually a longer/steady run, Tuesday is tempo/hills,Wednesday is recovery, Thursday is track intervals, Friday is pre meet, Saturday is race, and Sunday is a cross training day. Our coach mixes up the workouts to keep it fun. I haven't been able to do many long runs this season because I've had to keep my mileage down to prevent injuries. Sometimes we do morning runs once a week so we can have an afternoon off. We do strength work twice a week as a team, and I try to get some type of core work in every day. Push ups are my favorite!

4) When did you get your start in running? What other sports have you participated in before or during high school? I started running in 7th grade when I went out for XC because my friends were doing it. I wasn't very good, and ended up running hurdles and sprints during track season. I played soccer and really liked gymnastics when I was younger. My brother is a pole vaulter so he convinced me to try it. I jumped 11 feet as a freshman, but it's really hard to train for two entirely different events. So now I usually only pole vault to help my team out in dual meets.  

5) Highlights and proudest accomplishments from your first two high school seasons in XC and TF? My freshman year I was excited to make varsity and run in the state XC meet with my team. My sophomore year I felt stronger and more competitive. I won the San Diego CIF section in XC, and placed 10th in the Division 3 state meet, breaking 18 minutes in the 5K. Our team won the D3 section final, and then ran great at state and finished 2nd. It's going to be hard to top that this year! In track. I was finally able to break 5 minutes in the 1600 (PR of 4:55) and was the San Diego Section champion in the 1600. I ran at the state meet, but was injured and didn't make it out of prelims.

6) Who is your coach and how has he helped guide you during your running season? What have you learned from him? My coach is Bill Vice, who has coached a lot of great teams and runners at La Costa Canyon for many years. Coach Vice has been very supportive, and works hard to come up with different and challenging workouts. But he also listens to his runners and modifies the workouts to make it fun and keep us healthy. Coach Vice always reminds me the importance of recovery, as I tend to go all out in practice too much. One of my favorite things he does is when he invites former runners, like Emma Abrahamson and Steven and Darren Fahy, to come back and share their experiences and recommendations.

7) How has your role on the team changed from freshman season to now? Who were the runners that were mentors to you during your freshman seasons? I didn't know much about cross country when I was a freshman, so I asked the juniors and seniors a lot of questions because they were my role models. This year I'm trying to help the freshmen and sophomores when they have questions or need motivation. There were many runners that were mentors to me as a freshman, including Sarah Abrahamson who now runs at SMU, Keely Boyd who runs at UC Irvine, and Riley Prohaska who runs at UC Davis, and I can't thank them enough for all their help and for making cross country fun.

8) Did you do anything differently this past summer preparing for this current season? Unfortunately, after the state meet in track I found out I had some injuries that kept me out of running for 6 weeks. I was going crazy, only biking and swimming. One of my injuries was a hip avulsion fracture because of a growth plate problem in my hip. The good news is I'm still growing, but the bad news is I have to be careful and can't run as many miles as I would like. Having to take the time off from running over summer definitely helped me become a better swimmer, and although I can't say I enjoy swimming lap after lap in the pool, I think it really did help prepare me for this season.

9) Favorite XC invitational? Favorite XC course? Favorite XC workout? Favorite La Costa Canyon XC tradition? Favorite long run? Favorite TF invitational? Favorite TF event? Favorite TF workout? Favorite band? Favorite movie? Favorite free time activity? I guess it's not really an "invitational" meet, but I would say the California Cross Country State Meet (if you think about it you have to qualify to get invited). The atmosphere and the chance to get to run against the best runners in the state is awesome. My favorite XC course is also the state meet course at Woodward Park because I think it's a fast course and I've run some of my best races there. I try to convince myself that my favorite XC workout is tempo runs on the hills because I know that's what I need to run faster. I guess you could say a La Costa Canyon XC tradition is going to the state meet, hopefully we can keep that tradition going this year! As for the long runs, I haven't been able to do many this season, but my team likes running along Coast Highway by the beach. My favorite TF invitational is Arcadia, and running the 4x1600 invitational at night is exciting, especially last year in the rain. My favorite TF event is the 1600, and my favorite workout is 400 repeats because I like to go fast. I can't think of a favorite band, but one of my favorite movies is Napoleon Dynamite. In my free time I like to go to the beach with my friends.   

10) From your perspective, what are the keys to being a good distance runner? Once I get in good shape, I found that my mental approach is very important to both workouts and races. I set goals and try to challenge myself in pacing, and sometimes it works out -- sometimes it doesn't. 

11) A freshman is undecided about joining the La Costa Canyon XC team. How would you convince them to join? We have a big team that is almost like a family. I have made some great friends on my cross country team, and they make running so much more fun. Besides running, we do a lot of team bonding -- and we have great pasta parties!

12) Anything else you would like to add? My favorite motto is "the faster you run, the sooner you're done!" Thanks for this interview!