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an interview with Amber Trotter

Ukiah CA star talks about her past, present and future

Then: "I wasn't really enjoying running too much . . . I was pretty miserable."
Now: "I feel so lucky to be alive and running . . . so strong and healthy and happy.."

photo by Bill Leung

[Editor's Note: A year ago, Amber Trotter qualified for the Foot Locker national finals as a junior. Then she suffered a lost season last spring as she fell into the grip of an eating disorder. This fall, Amber has come back better than ever with an undefeated cross country season, Mt. SAC championship in course record time, and the fastest times in the nation. We asked her to talk about her past, present, and future.
-- John Dye 10/30/01
Trotter talks to the media after record win at Mt. SAC

This is Amber's unedited response to questions submitted by DyeStat
about her Past - Present - and Future


DyeStat: Did your parents compete in athletics?

Neither of my parents were really into athletics, though my dad played football his freshman and sophomore years in high school.

DyeStat: When did you start running competitively?

I started running track in sixth grade, but I don't know if you could call it competitively. the season lasted about a month

DyeStat: When did you have your first success running?

I really started running the summer before my freshman year and my success running began that fall

DyeStat: What motivated you to run?

My coaches and teammates certainly affected my motivation (especially my head coach Jerry Drew) but my desire and drive to run has always come from within.

DyeStat: You come from an area that has produced many great runners, such as Julia Stamps and Sara Bei. How important was their example to your running career?

Having super runners like Sara and Julia in the area certainly contributed to my motivation.

DyeStat: Have you participated in other sports besides running?

I played both soccer and basketball and had been on the swim team, but running was unlike anything else. it was so free and pure and gutsy!

DyeStat: You were very straightforward after Mt. SAC in discussing your eating disorder. Based on what you know now, when did you start having an eating disorder? Why? Did you realize then that you had an eating disorder?

I began developing an eating disorder late fall of my sophomore year, I guess, and no, I did not realize what was happening. The reasons are complex and numerous and I'm still struggling to understand. Teenage eating disorders are becoming increasingly and alarmingly prevalent in first world nations, and I feel that cultural pressure had a good deal to do with my disorder. From infancy we are bombarded with images of anorexic-looking women and given the message that that is how we are supposed to appear. My obsessive-compulsive personality, running, and family issues probably all contributed. . . Losing weight (and, by the way, I was never heavy-- I'm 5'7'' and weighed about 125 before I started dropping. . .) boosted both my self-esteem and running performance (initially).

DyeStat: When did this start to impact your life adversely, such as by inferior performance on the track or in the classroom?

My grades never dropped, but I began losing contact with people, losing my passion for living and interest in my academics late fall of my junior year. I wasn't really enjoying running too much by the end of the season last year and felt totally drained by nationals.

DyeStat: What were your feelings when you couldn't run last spring?

Last winter was rough - I was pretty miserable. My running started to suffer in the spring. I didn't fully realize that, however, and bitterly resented being forbidden to compete. What opened my eyes was being allowed to compete in two meets last spring. I felt utterly powerless and knew how far out of balance my life had spun.

DyeStat: What was the treatment and what was the process that brought you back to running shape to win the Great Race of the Great Bay at San Francisco in September?

It's been a process of rebuilding ever since. A painful and long process with many set-backs. I'm still not over it, but I am working with a nutritionist and psychologist who specializes in eating disorders. I'm working on behavior modification and trying to get in 3000 calories a day. My coach, family, and friends have been unbelievably supportive.

DyeStat: After winning at San Francisco, you were very emotional. Can you describe your feelings then?

Running at san francisco was an amazingly rewarding experience. I felt so strong and healthy and happy. . . there aren't really words to describe it. Deeply grateful. I feel so lucky to be alive and running and am greatly indebted to many people.


DyeStat: After winning Mt. SAC in record time, you spoke of the sheer joy of running and that records weren't important. Can you elaborate on that?

Running is, like I said, unlike any other sport, and there was a point in my life where I wasn't enjoying it. I have rediscovered how beautiful my sport is and am in love with the process. that's what counts: loving it and bringing my best to my competitors. Not winning.

DyeStat: What is your response to people, such as on the message boards, who say you look too thin?

Yeah, I probably am too thin. Like I said, I am still recovering-- fighting with a vicious disease. Add that to the inherent difficulty of gaining weight running 60 miles a week with a fair amount of speed work, and you have a little insight into my problem!

DyeStat: Do you have brothers or sisters?

I have a 14 year old brother and 10 year old sister. I am very close to my family.

DyeStat: Have you lived in Ukiah all your life?

I actually live in Redwood Valley, 20 minutes north of Ukaih, and have lived here since I was about 2 1/2.

DyeStat: What do you do just for fun? (assuming you have time)

I love to dance, garden, play the piano, sing, cook, hike, bike, swim, read, write poetry and soak in the hot tub!


DyeStat: What are your goals for the rest of the season?

My goal for the rest of the season is to stay healthy and balanced, make nationals and give that race my best.

DyeStat: What will your training be like between now and the California State Meet November 24?

My training from now until state meet will be essentially the same as now (tempo longer intervals, faster 100s and 200s, drills, etc.) with decreased mileage. The speed-work will increase, too.

DyeStat: Do you think having Foot Locker right after the California State Meet is an advantage or disadvantage for California runners?

The state, regionals, nationals thing is a bit rough. Running hard at state and regionals could fry people for nationals. But last year, the West was so dominant-- it doesn't seem to be too big of a deal. It's crucial not to run Mt. Sac too hard, though. I'm glad we don't have a long break in between because I think we'd get out of touch with competing. The traveling part is hard, too. I had major jet-lag last year.

DyeStat: Have you made any college campus visits?

I have visited many colleges, but none officially.

DyeStat: Some people are surprised that you want to attend Middlebury, a small school in Vermont, instead of a Division 1 school. Do you care to comment on that?

I am very happy with Middlebury, both academically and athletically. I also love the area. Terry Aldrich is great and I think that I will have a lot of fun running for him. I don't want a whole lot of intense pressure. My decision is in large part academic, however.


DyeStat: What advice do you have for young runners? This is your chance to sound off without filtering or interpretation by reporters. Anything else you want to say to DyeStat?

hmmmm. . . this is an exciting opportunity. : )

I don't have anything too much to say, except that running is a truly AMAZING sport, allowing you to really get in touch with yourself and challenge your fears and weaknesses. I have met an astounding number of wonderful people through running and formed friendships that I hope will last me a lifetime. My advice to young runners is to run for the joy, the thrill, the challenge, and keep it in balance with the rest of your life. Racing is not a matter of life and death; everyone has good races and everyone has bad ones. Remind yourself while you race how strong and courageous you are, dig down, and I'm sure you'll be impressed by what you find. You can be waaay tough!! (or not, some days, and that's ok, too.)

Remember WHY YOU RUN and that you LOVE TO RUN and LOVE YOURSELF. SMILE! It always helps me to think about how hard everyone else in my race/ on my team is working and that I owe it to them to run my best.

A big thank you to an endless list of people and good luck to anyone reading this interview.

Amber Trotter


Charter Sponsors
DyeStat thanks these organizations for providing significant support to DyeStat
in the 2001-2002 school year, earning Charter Sponsor status for 5 years.


Great American Cross Country Festival Inc.

National Scholastic Sports Foundation

Midwest Indoor Track Classic

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