Sarah Walker tells all about her big postseason and her 2:03.70 800!

Sarah Walker had a long postseason of travel and competition. She went from Philadelphia to Cuba to North Carolina to Oregon and back in a one month period. She ran two personal bests, including the US#1 2:03.70 from this past Tuesday night, and she finished 2nd at New Balance and 3rd at USATF Juniors!

How did Sarah feel about her journey? Here are the answers from the master herself!

1. What was the purpose of entering an all comers meet after having such a busy June?

I was really looking to PR at this meet because all of the previous races had been tactical races where I had run 2:07/2:08. I had planned to make the Pan Am team at Jr Nationals, so when I just missed the team, I really wanted to race again because one, I was feeling pretty fit, and two, I wanted one last chance to PR.

2. Did the results in June leave you disappointed?

I was pretty bummed when I missed the Pan Am team by 0.01 seconds, but I also realize that if it weren’t for that disappointment that I felt, I would never have run 2:03. That’s the upside to not getting what you want because then you have something to work for.

3. Talk about your experience in Cuba and how that 2:05.79 felt?

Cuba was one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on. My favorite part about the trip was meeting all of the people I did. The trainers and coaches for team NSAF are great people and all of the NSAF athletes were talented athletes with a lot of personality. And to top it off, the Cuban people were some of the most welcoming, interesting, and kind people I have ever met. It was also really exciting to run 2:05 because at the time it was a PR and I sort of ran it alone. That gave me confidence that with competition, I would be able to go sub 2:05.

4. At New Balance, you were the runner up. Talk about how that race played out? What would you have done differently?

I was pretty happy with my runner up finish at New Balance because I was still recovering from a bug I caught in Cuba. I would have liked to have won, but on the last 50 meters I sort of just ran out of gas. We came in at halfway in around 65 seconds, which means the second lap and mostly the last 200 were going to be all out sprint fests. I would have liked to run the first lap faster, but it was super hot out and nobody really wanted to take it out that day. So all in all, I did the best that I could with what I had and I just fell a little short.

5. Finishing 2nd at the USATF Champs was the main target for the season. All went to plan barring .01 seconds. Outside of the disappointment of missing out on Team USA, what did you take from the weekend in Oregon?

The experience at USATF Champs definitely added on to my experience of competing in those types of high-pressure environments and keeping my composure. I went to USATF Champs in Iowa as a freshman and got my butt kicked. The following year I went to USATF Champs in Oregon and I made the finals, but not top 3. This year at USATF Champs in Oregon, I made the final and just barely missed the Pan Am team. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted, I think it shows some good progression and helps me raise my expectations for what I can do at this meet next year.

6. Talk about your race strategy on Tuesday night? Did you think 2:03.70 was possible this year?

The race on Tuesday was great for me because of three things; one being that it was close by (no more travelling!), two being that it was a low-pressure environment, and three being that I was able to compete with sub 2-minute athletes. I knew I would be able to run a really fast time if I was competing with other athletes who ran under or close to 2 minutes. I was in the first heat, which had seed times ranging from 1:52 to 2:10, so I knew I was going to be in the mix no matter what. I also love to compete, and it was fun to switch it up and race with the boys.

7. What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

In terms of running, I am taking a little break and then starting back up for XC in the fall. I am also working at a summer camp with lots of 4 year olds, so I think that counts as some weight lifting J.

8. What do your college options look like so far?

It was really exciting for me on July 1st to talk to all of the schools that are recruiting me, and I am feeling pretty good about my options. The top 5 schools I am looking at right now have all contacted me, and now it is just a matter of taking my visits and making a decision.

9. What are your goals for cross country?

Last year was my first year of cross country and it took me a long time to adjust to it (I did soccer freshmen and sophomore year), but I was finally getting into it the last race of the season at NXN Regionals. My main goal is to have more fun with it than I did last year and to run fast!

10. Anything cool happen on all of your trips in Cuba, Carolina, and Oregon?

Oh yeah! I met Ashton Eaton and Alberto Juantorena (Cuban 400 and 800 meter gold medalist), I traded my NSAF uniform for a Cuban one (I wore on Tuesday), and I got to room with my homie Anna Cockrell (100 M hurdle and 400 M hurdle boss) in Cuba along with meeting all the other fantastic American athletes.