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Interval Session #21 - Francisco "Tito" Medrano

December 6, 2007

As the results started pouring in for the 2007 Foot Locker Midwest regional, and message boards posters began sifting through the qualifiers, one name stood out as unfamiliar in the top ten.  Certainly, runners like winner Mike Fout and runner-up Chris Derrick were expected, as were names like 6th-place Kevin Williams and 10th-place Evan Appel, but who was Francisco Medrano? Before long, it was revealed that Francisco was "Tito" Medrano of of Lafayette, Indiana, who'd finished 16th at the Indiana state meet only weeks earlier, then worked his way up to an astonishing eighth at FLMW.

Medrano's track times last spring, especially a 9:07 3200 at the Indiana state track meet, forecast a solid senior cross country campaign, but a hip injury kept him in the pool, and largely off the radar, for most of the fall. He followed up his top-20 state finish with an 8th place run at the NTN Midwest Regional, competing as an individual, and then punched his surprise ticket to San Diego with his 15:18 effort at UW-Parkside.

On the eve of the Foot Locker National Championships, DyeStat assistant editor Dave Devine catches up with a young man who surprised many people, but not himself, with his Midwest Foot Locker berth.

1) Congratulations on your recent finish at the Foot Locker Midwest qualifier. Can you describe briefly how the race went for you?

Thanks. I started out in the top 15 going up the hill, until the 2 mile mark, when the leaders began to pull away. I found myself around 12th place with about 600 to 800 meters to go. I recalled all the struggles and disappointments I had all season. At that point, I just began to pound the downhill. Someone yelled that I was in 8th place with about 200 to go, and I finished strong, very close to 6th and 7th place. I was just so thankful that God allowed me to put everything together when I needed it the most.

2) Based on your 16th place finish at the Indiana state meet, it seems like you weren't really on the radar for people who follow Midwest high school running, heading into the FL race. How did you make the jump from top-20 guy in Indiana to top-10 in the entire Midwest? Did you have a sense, coming into the race, that qualifying for San Diego was a possibility?

I have always known that I am a national caliber runner. It was a big jump from the Indiana State meet, but I was by no means surprised that I could do this. Qualifying for San Diego was definitely in the back of my mind heading into the Midwest Regional meet, however I was unsure about performing a good race at the perfect time.

3) I know you struggled with an injury during the season. Can you talk about the injury, and what you did to overcome it heading into the post-season?

The injury happened simply by accident. The coach had the cross country team working out in the pool, and I slightly pulled a muscle in my inner hip. It barely bothered me at first, so I continued to run on it. When the pain increased significantly, I decided to stop. It was diagnosed as a strained hip-flexor. Most leg exercises hurt the muscle, so that meant running, biking, and even kicking during a swim were out of the question. I had to swim using only my arms and used a floating device to keep my lower body afloat. I began to work out with the swim team and got my butt kicked by their workouts. I swam almost two hours a day with my heart rate above 160 beats per minute nearly everyday! I missed being able to run and learned to appreciate it as a privilege.

Getting back to training was difficult, and I was not able to log in many miles going into the state tournament due to strained muscle pains. Around the semi-state and state meets was when the injury finally let up, and I could run pain free. By then, however, it was too late to perform what was expected of me at the state level.

Since I was able to run pain-free, I began to log a good amount of miles. I ran the Nike Team Nationals Midwest Regional as an individual, and set a personal best on the Terre Haute course. I continued to train hard, but at the same time, had fun playing frisbee with my teammates.

4) Have you ever been to California before, or will this be the first time? What things are you looking forward to about racing at Foot Locker? What have you heard about the Balboa Park course?

I have never visited California, but I know the place has awesome weather! That is a lot better than the Midwest, where the weather is unpredictable. I talked to some runners who qualified in recent years, and they say it is an amazing experience! My teammates joke around telling me to enjoy all the free stuff. As far as Balboa Park, I have not heard much, and I don't think I really need to. We will be walking the course a day before the race, so that will give me an opportunity to examine it.

5) I know the landscape tends to be pretty flat in most parts of Indiana. Are you able to include hill workouts into your training, and if so, what do those look like?

If you ask my teammates whether or not Lafayette, Indiana has many hills, they would probably laugh. Coach Phil Hurt , Coach Dave Howell, and Coach Andrea Blocher included PLENTY of hills in our daily runs and workouts. There are trails alongside a river only two minutes away from my house that have a ton of hills, and you even have to run uphill to get there!

6) Was there one workout or series of workouts that let you know that you were ready for the big breakthrough of qualifying for the Foot Locker National meet?

Actually no, there was no breakthrough workout. However, Coach Blocher had me do a lot of speedwork to sharpen up for the race. That's about it.

7) Can you talk about your coach(es) and team at Lafayette Jefferson? What's the relationship like, and how has your experience been running there?

Coach Phil Hurt , Coach Dave Howell, and Coach Andrea Blocher have supported me through all the good times and bad times. They always want the best for our team. Our team consists of only about 15 boys and 15 girls each year, however both teams are filled with diehard runners. We have high expectations for ourselves and we train really hard. At the same time, we have fun everyday, and we enjoy going to practice. The team is kind of like a family, and I'm really going to miss them.

8) If you could take any runner, past or present, on an easy distance run in your hometown, who would it be and what route would you take them on?

Haha! I would want to take Coach Hurt, back in his prime years, to run with me for one day. Except it wouldn't be an easy run.....it would be a hard and hilly fartlek run in the sand trails close to my house! I would love to see if coach was really as tough as he says he was!

Photos by Vic Sailer

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