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Interval Session #80 - Megan Goethals

By SteveU - November 6, 2008

When looking at the best D1 girls coming into the 2008 Michigan XC season, one obviously had to start with defending champ Shannon Osika.  Beyond that, there was Gabrielle Anzalone, who had finished right behind Osika in the state 3200; Rebecca Addison, the state 800 and 3200 champ who could be tough if she put it all together in XC again; and then last year’s 2-3 finishers from state XC, Audrey Huth and Cally Macumber.  You had to go deeper to get to Megan Goethals and it was hard to think of her as a serious contender for a championship.

But that was because no one had seen what Goethals could do with months of healthy training behind her.  Having overcome a freshman year injury and sophomore year iron deficiency, Rochester junior Megan Goethals quickly proved she was going to be one of the very best with her 17:39 breakout win at the September Spartan Invite.  Three weeks later, she beat Osika at the Oakland County meet to cement that idea.  Those races, along with a dominant regional win over a great field, made her the favorite.

Last weekend, Goethals lived up to the favorite’s role and more, running the fastest state meet time ever, in any class, in defeating a game Osika (who tied the old mark) and a superlative field that had nine girls break 18:00.  As she makes the transition from the state season to preparing for Foot Locker Midwest, DyeStat Editor SteveU caught up with her for a quick chat.
1) Congrats on your state championship season!  Let’s start with the state meet itself … you were the favorite in the minds of a lot of people coming in, but I’m sure there were those who thought Shannon still had a great shot, or girls like Becca who you hadn’t raced yet.  What was the mental approach and game plan you took going in, and how did the race unfold for you?

Thanks.  Going into the state meet, I thought that I might have a good chance, but there were some really good girls who I had never raced before that I was worried about.  Luckily, I knew a little about most of the runners and their different styles.  My coach and I talked about how I needed to try and drop some of the girls, such as Becca, before the last mile because she has really good foot speed and it would be a challenge to try and shake them past that point.  We decided that I should try to run even mile splits and try to drop people that way.  I tried to do this, but my splits were not that even.  I was worried about that during the race but I decided that I was just going to give it all I had that last mile.

2)  I guess to ask you about how you got to this point, we really need to talk about your first two years, since a big difference for you this year was keeping injury-free.  Can you talk about where injuries and/or other health issues curtailed your training and racing before this fall?  What do think have been the factors this past summer and now this fall in staying healthy?

My first injury was during the winter of my freshman year.  I had an IT band problem, and it kept me from running for about two months.  I did a lot of cross training, but it didn’t have all of the benefits running did.  My sophomore year, I had an iron deficiency during cross-country but did not know it.  It wasn’t until January that we actually figured out what was going on.  In order to make this better I took iron supplements, and within a few weeks I was feeling a lot better. 

During this time I started to lift weights to get stronger.  I think that this has helped me a lot also.  I have been able to stay healthy and injury free ever, which has resulted in better training.

3) Please talk about the Spartan Invite from September, your first really big victory.  What were your thoughts about that race going in?  Did you know deep down you had a really fast time inside or was it really a surprise?  How did that affect your confidence and approach to the rest of the year?

Going into the Spartan Invitational, I was really nervous.  I knew that some of the girls I’d be racing against were really good.  I thought that maybe a top-three finish would be a good goal.  My plan was just to try and stay with the leaders, and then kick it in around 2-½ miles.  When I crossed the finish line first and saw my time, I was shocked.  My time was 17:39 and my goal for the season was to run under 18 minutes.  This race was a giant confidence booster because it showed me that I could run at another level.

4) I guess the next big step for you was the Oakland County meet and beating the defending state champ.  Can you tell us your approach to that battle and how winning that race impacted you?

Leading up to this meet, I knew that it was going to be tough.  Shannon is a great runner and I knew that she was not going to be easy to beat.  Going into it my plan was to hang with her and with about ¾ of a mile to go, try and pass her up on one of the big hills.  When I won, I was so excited!  Winning this race meant that I could have a good chance at the state meet.

5) Now that you’ve finished your Michigan season, I’ve heard you’re interested in running Foot Locker Midwest.  What are your goals there?

My goal for the Foot Locker meet is to place in the top ten and make it to nationals.

6) I’ve heard that you’ve been running since middle school.  Can you talk about how you got into the sport in the first place?

I started running track in the 6th grade through my church.  Back then I was a sprinter.  In the eighth grade, I ran for my middle school.  My coach saw me running and suggested that I try distance instead of sprinting.  When I tried it, I loved it.

7) You had a teammate your first two years, Tiffany Abrahamian, who had a very strong career.  What kind of things did you learn from her?  Also, can you tell us about the Rochester program and team in general, and the coaching you’ve received?

Tiffany is a great friend. We always ran together, even if we didn’t have to.  She showed me that I cannot run my hardest every day.  She also was the one who would always calm me down when I got really nervous at races.

The Rochester cross-country program is awesome!  We have a very close team, and everyone works hard.  The coaches, Larry Adams and Keith Szymkiw, are really good. Together they have some great ideas.

8) What are your strongest interests academically and what kind of things do you like to do when you aren’t studying or training?

Academically, I am interested in Math and English.  I would like to go into a dietitian major in college.  When I am not studying or training, I like to read, shop, be with friends, bike, and play with my dog.

Photos by Pat Davey from MI State Meet 2008 (Goethals winning, and with Osika earlier in race).

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