Natasha Wodak

On Saturday night at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., Vancouver runner Natasha Wodak broke the national record over 10,000m. We talked to her about the ups and downs of the last year.

Did you think one year ago you would would be breaking the Canadian record?

Last year at this time I was in a boot. I we didn’t know what was wrong. We weren’t sure if it was plantar fasciitis or if it was a stress fracture but all we knew was that I couldn’t run.

It finally started to get better right before national cross-country in November and I went into the race knowing I wasn’t in tip-top shape. I hadn’t done a lot of fast interval workouts but it ended up going pretty well and, after that, my heel started to get better and by the new year I was running, not pain-free but significantly better. The training started to fall into place in January and I started to run times in practice I’d never run before.

All of a sudden I woke up one day and realized my heel didn’t hurt anymore and I can’t pinpoint when or how but it just happened and my tendinitis went away and my body started to cooperate with me. The training went really well and I started to run some personal bests.

You’re always working out and have a general idea of what type of fitness you’re in. Did you know you were in shape for a Canadian record?

No. When i saw Lanni [Marchant] run 32:11 last month I was confident. We’re friends and I know where her training is at and we’d both run at the NY Half and I’d run a bit better than her there so I thought if Lanni can could 32:11 I should be able to run around 32:15 as well. So, going in my goal was to run Olympic standard.

Basically, in the three weeks prior to Payton Jordan, looking back at my workouts, I was definitely confident I was able to run around the 32-minute range, so I was confident. But I never like going into a race over-confident because it’s one thing to get in workouts that say you’re going to run that time. It’s a totally different thing to put it together on the day; you never know what can happen.

I had no idea I was on Canadian record pace until the bell lap. I saw the time and thought ‘I can get the Canadian record but I need to run a really fast last lap.’ I think I ran a 68 or a 69-second last lap.

This was your first track race of the year?

Yes, it was. This was my first track race in a long time.

What difference does that present?

I went in with a very different mentality to this race. I said “I’m not going to look at the lap counters. I’m just going to try and relax and get in that pack and go like you would in a road race.” In a road race, if you’re off every 400 metres you don’t care, it’s a second. For me, I treated it more like a road race. I didn’t care about every single lap.

You have a few options open to you know. Barring a few people running quicker than yourself, it looks like you have the option of racing worlds, Pan Ams or both. Any ideas on what the summer looks like?

Richard [Lee] and I are probably going to sit down tomorrow and go over everything and obviously this does change a few things, like if we want to do more on the track or less on the road. We’re thinking about maybe doing a 5,000m and going that route for Pan Am Games but we’re not sure yet.

Definitely we’ll do the 10,000m at worlds. That’s going to be the goal of the summer, to have a big race there.

I believe Olympic qualification is also already open and you now have that standard?

The qualification standard is 32:15 and the window is open. We have to wait for the full criteria to come out. We have to wait and see what I have to do to prove fitness next summer and see if three girls run faster than that. It’s definitely not guaranteed but this does put me in a good position to make the Olympic team.

Of course it’s not locked up, but how does that feel?

It’s amazing. It’s really overwhelming and I don’t think it’s sunk in. I didn’t think it was really possible for me this year at this time.

It’s what you dream of, right? I hope it happens but the motto is don’t let the highs get too high and the lows get too low.

Any other comments on the race?

It was definitely a shock. I don’t think it would have happened if Lanni wasn’t there with me. She’s amazing and we’re great friends and competitors and we really worked together. We literally ran side-by-side for almost the last seven laps. With one mile to go I said ‘we’ve got this.’ It’s so important to have that.


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