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Interval Session #25 - Isaiah Ward
January 16, 2008

Motor City TC/Detroit Mumford MI sr Isaiah Ward has long been a cog of his club’s or school’s multiple relay combinations that have excelled at the state and national level. Whether it’s 4x400, sprint medley, or 4x800, it seems like Ward is always there. Sure enough, if you look at Michigan’s state records, Ward has the state soph mark for the 800 at 1:58.37. This is the 3rd year he’s been near or at the top of Michigan half-miling.

He’s better known as part of relay teams, though. Last year, while he and his crew suffered the disappointment of a DQ at NSIC in the 4x800, they won sprint medley with the fastest US time of the year.

But now, Ward has broken through again – finally – in the 800. His first sub-1:53 came at Indiana U. last weekend, as he won an open race in 1:52.80. That broke a 26-year-old state record and is the current US#1. His Motor City 4x800 crew is also US#1 right now, with an early-season 7:56.22 under their belt. DyeStat news editor SteveU takes a trip inside the Motor City to look at the latest in a long line of Mumford 800 greats.

1. Tell us about the 1:52 race. How did it unfold? How did you feel during the race?

I came into the race wanting to run at least 1:53; as soon as the race started, all I could think about was winning. The leader in the race ran a fast first 400 (like 52.8), and I wasn’t sure if I was going to catch him. But as the race went on, I got stronger and eventually went on to win.

2. Was that a PR for you? Did it feel like a bit of a breakthrough?

1:52 is a PR for me at this point. I feel like this was a breakthrough for me because I have been consistent in the 1:53-1:55 range. To run 1:52.80 in January is definitely a breakthrough, but only the beginning because I'm going to run faster.

3. You’ve been a 1:54-56 type guy since you were a sophomore. Is this the beginning of the process that will get you down to 1:50 or better? What have you found that it’s taking for you, both training-wise and mentally, to make that next step?

Yes, this is a process that will get me down to 1:50 or better. This year I feel a lot stronger. I have been very consistent with my training this year. Cross country season really helped me get to where I am now. My base from cross country has allowed me to be fast early, at the same time giving me room to improve throughout the whole year. I look at every race as if I’m running for a scholarship.

4. Tell us about your coaching/training situation … who does what and how does it work for running for Motor City TC and Mumford? Do you train under the same coaches? How have they helped you?

My high school coaches and the Motor City TC coaches are the same: Robert Lynch, Vernon Lynch and Brandon Jiles. They have helped me through motivation and training.

5. It seems like you’ve always been a big relay guy. Do you enjoy the 4x8 and other relays as much as the individual events? How would you compare them?

My favorite event is the 4x800. The reason I really like this event is because I love running the 800 and I’m running with three other teammates. I feel like I run better on the 4x800 because I feel like the relay is depending on me.

6. What kind of range do you have? Seems like we’ve seen you running 400s and a few miles, too, right? Do you also run cross-country?

My range is from 400 meters up to 5000 meters. I was all state in cross country (15:46), and I also run 48-second splits for 400. Along with being state champion in the 800, I also was all state in the 1600 meters.

7. Ultimately, what are your goals this year … and beyond this year? What are your college plans?

My goals for this year are to run 1:50 or better in the 800, 4:10 or better for 1600 meters and repeat as state champion in 800. Beyond this year, I would like to get close to 1:46 in 800m. My plans for college are to go to a school in a warm weather climate, or where I can get the best scholarship offer.

8. When you aren’t training, racing and studying, what do you like to do? What are we likely to see Isaiah doing during the off-season (is there ever an off-season?) or when you’re hanging out? Also, what do you like in terms of your classes/subjects and why?

When I’m not training or studying, I like hanging out with my friends and talking on the phone. As far as school is concerned, my favorite subject is science. I think science is one of the classes where you learn something new every day.

9. Is there something or someone special that has inspired you as a runner, or a significant incident in your life that led you down this path?

One thing that inspires me is my old teammates coming to me and letting me know I that I can be the best to come out of Mumford. And that’s a big deal, because at Mumford we have a great tradition of 800 runners: Tim Kinney, Anthony Spires, Brandon Jiles, Jimmie Jones, Isaiah Marshall, and Blake Figgins … They all ran inside 1:53 outdoors and most were state champs.

Photo by Robert Hollingsworth

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