Lauretta Dezubay: Another comback kid from PA (we must make \'em tough)

By Kimberly Jaick Soden

Lauretta Dezubay learned what it was like to end her season suddenly when she hurt her ankle just week's before the 2004 state cross country championships during her senior year at Freedom High in Bethlehem.

Lauretta Dezubay competing this season for UVA
(Photo courtesy of University of Virginia Athletics)

Somewhere between the end of last winter's indoor track season and the beginning of this past spring's outdoor season she had to end her racing once again when she became plagued with a stress reaction in her foot during her freshman year at the University of Viginia.

Dezubay, now a sophomore at UVA, shook off that injury as well this summer and is currently running No. 5 for her college team, which is hoping for a top 15-team finish at this fall's NCAA Division I championships.

After competing at the Roy Griak Invitational the other weekend, Dezubay and her teammates are gearing up for the NCAA Division Pre-National meet, scheduled for Oct. 14 at Terre Haute, Ind.

The former 3A state champion in the 3,200 and 1,600-meter runs is planning to blog for Penntrack this season. She caught up with the Web site earlier this week about her injury and her hopes for this fall.

PT: What type of stress fracture was it, when did it happen and how much of the track season did you have?

LD: I had a stress reaction in my fifth metatarsal. (A stress reaction is the smallest degree of a stress fracture). Most of the pain was localized on the bottom of my foot and accompanied by a severe tendonitis. It started bothering me during a normal distance run on a Monday during the first week of April. I stopped running immediately and had an MRI on it because the location where I was describing pain is often associated with a Jones Fracture, which can be very difficult to heal properly. I wore a walking boot for 5-6 weeks after the diagnosis. I missed the remainder of my outdoor season after running races in Charlotte (3k) and at the Raleigh Relays (4x1500 and open 1500). It's not clear to me if this happened during indoor or outdoor.

PT: After being injured that fall in high school, how were you able to keep yourself motivated and be able to rebound?
LD: The thought of knowing that I still had seven months until outdoor track states helped me get through the injury. I knew I was in good shape, and my injury wasn't due to overtraining or a mental breakdown. I didn't worry too much about cross training in the first month after the injury because I wanted to just let my muscles heal and give myself a break.

PT: Do you think being hurt the way you were in high school helped make you stronger to stick this out?
LD: It is a totally different situation in college. Being injured is being injured, but in college there are more expectations. When you are injured, you are expected to spend time in the training room doing bone stimulations, cross training, and attending practice every day. The time of year when this happened was when the weather was starting to get better and everyone was preparing for championship season. It was devastating, but every runner has to deal with injuries along the way. It's just part of our sport, especially when we are constantly in season.

PT: When were you able to start running again? Tell me what the coming back/build-up process was like.
LD: I was able to run the second week of May. I was out of the walking boot for a week at this time with no pain in my foot for nearly three weeks. It was the day after my last exam, and my first day back in Bethlehem since the first week of January. I hadn't really lost too much cardiovascular endurance because I had done a period of pretty extensive cross training during the month of April. I deep water ran whatever the team was doing on the land. For example, if they were doing mile repeats, I would do reps of 5:30 in the water at an exertion level equivalent to what that feels like while running. On long runs, I would be in the water for 1:30-1:45 minutes at a time. The week leading up to starting to run, I just took it easy, because I knew my body wouldn't be used to the impact of running, even though I was still very physically fit. The progression was two weeks of walk-jog. I would run a minute; walk a minute for a mile every other day. I would supplement cross training for the rest of my "mileage." The next week was two miles at a time, and then I was allowed to run one full mile. By the time I got back to Charlottesville in early June for classes, I was up to about 30 miles a week of pure running, and still cross training heavily.

PT: How did this summer of training go for you?
LD: It went really well. It was so much better than last year. I gradually built into things over the course of the next two months on the same schedule as everyone else on the team.

PT: Were you able to make this your best summer of mileage yet or did the fracture keep that from happening?
LD: With the schedule that Coach Dunn gave us, most girls started with 25 miles their first week into the cross country training schedule. Then about every other week, there was a five mile increase until you hit your goal or max mileage. Since I was only about a week behind on mileage when his schedule started, I was caught up in no time. For the first month or so, it is just steady running and gradually adding things like drills, strides, lifting, and core exercises. In July, we started doing very moderate tempo runs and hill reps. Nothing too exhausting, but just to give the legs something different. Each week, our long run also increased by about three to five minutes, which doesn't seem like that much, but over the summer it adds up!

PT: Did you come home from the summer to train or did you stay in Virginia? How did that work out and who did you train with?
LD: I was in Virginia most of the summer starting the first week of June. It was awesome to be here to train. The Lehigh Valley has some awesome places to run, but getting to explore Charlottesville was even better. The Rivanna Trail system is a 30-mile circle around Charlottesville where you can pick up trails from almost any point.

PT: What were the first couple of weeks like during the XC season and how did you keep yourself motivated?
LD: It was easy to be really motivated with practically our whole team healthy and nationally ranked at 26 before running a single meet. We won our home meet on Sept. 10 to start off the season. I placed as our fifth runner.

PT: You started off pretty well at the Roy Griak, but you said you weren't that happy with the race. Was that because you're still coming back or was it just an off day mentally?LD: Griak was just not a good race for me. I had a poor start, and played catch up for the first mile. I didn't get close enough to a teammate, which would have helped. I spent too much emotional energy after practically walking around the first couple of turns in the race. I still scored for us, but I just didn't race well. It had nothing to do with my foot.

PT: What other meets are you and the team off to this fall? What are your goals at this point?
LD: We are going to pre-nationals on Oct. 14 and then we host ACC's (the Atlantic Coast Conference meet) on Oct. 28. Two weeks after than we are going to Louisville, Ky., for regionals and then plan on NCAAs the Monday before Thanksgiving. Our goal is to be in the top 15 at NCAAs. My goals at this point are to be our No. 4 runner and to keep running stronger races and getting closer to our front pack.

PT: Catching up on the college end. How are you enjoying your college experience so far? What are the best things about it?
LD: I love UVA. I haven't really had the chance to do a lot of college experience things socially, but living on your own is an adjustment. The best thing about college is the atmosphere. I love Charlottesville and the southern/country atmosphere. It's not as fast-paced.

PT: Have you decided what to major in yet and/or have you started to figure out your career plans or post-collegiate running plans?
LD: My major is health and physical education. It's a five year masters program. I'm hoping to be a teacher and coach cross country when I graduate. I'd love to come back to PA. I haven't thought about post-collegiate running. I'm still trying to get the hang of collegiate running!

PT: Related to that. Where you able to get your eligibility back for last season? If so, what will be your plans with that?
LD: I'm going to try to get my eligibility for last season back. I ran in two races, but never went to championship season, so that's what I'm going to use as my argument. I know I'm going to be here a fifth year for academics, so I'm sure that I'll be in competition during at least one season that year.

Don't forget to subscribe.
That is the main way we pay for this full-time level of coverage.
Three choices: 3-months/4-months/One Year