Minute by minute
Miles becoming less monotonous for former state champ
A summer of running solo was becoming tedious for Moffat County High School graduate Laurel Mortensen. She had never really trained at all in the summer for cross country and, in preparation for her freshman year at Adams State College, the miles were starting to get longer.
“I think I maybe ran two weeks before practice started in my previous summers,” she said. “I was getting a little bored of running so much by myself.”
Then came a much-needed refresher for the 2003 Class 4A 800-meter state champion. What could have been just another week of running before or after work in late July, was replaced by a trip to Alamosa with her future teammates to attend an Adams State running camp.
“After I got to know a couple of the girls I fell in love with the program,” she said before leaving for her first real week at ASC last Thursday. “Just the thought of competing on a nationally ranked team with those girls renewed me.”
Mortensen joins a team that has won eight of the last 10 national team titles in NCAA Div. II cross country. It is a team she is determined to make.
“I have to prove myself,” she said. “I want to make the top seven this year and be a part of that national team.”
Quite a jump in goals for an athlete who didn’t train for cross country in high school with the thought of: “Why try that hard at it when you aren’t going to do it in the future?”
This summer, Mortensen was averaging 50 minutes a day on the road with a long run of 80 minutes at the end of the week. She guessed that one week of training at the beginning of the summer was about what she did all of last summer.
“I’m in the best shape of my life right now,” she said. “Last summer, if a coach would have told me to run 80 minutes I would have said, ‘Holy cow, no way.’ Now I almost enjoy those long runs.”
Her training and improvement was shown at the camp where they had several workouts to test the runners. On an interval day, Mortensen said she felt like she flew through the workout intervals, something “I would have died trying to do two months ago.”
She will bill joining her sister, Emily, who earned All-American honors in cross country and indoor track as a freshman at ASC last year.
Laurel said having Emily there will help push her, but it is just one piece of motivation.
“I know I can’t rely on talent now,” she said. “It comes down to hard work.”
Mortensen left for Alamosa at the beginning of the week with an anxious but encouraged outlook.
“The thought of sucking keeps me motivated and it makes me a little nervous, too,” she said. “I’m excited to see what I can do though.”
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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