with Turena Johnson Lane
On October 3, Turena Johnson Lane qualified for her first U.S. World Championship team by placing sixth overall and second among Americans at the Twin Cities Marathon in her home state of Minnesota; her performance earned her a spot in the 2005 IAAF World Championship Marathon in Helsinki. Her 2:37:39 a personal best by 2 minutes, 35 seconds was the climax of a buildup that saw Johnson Lane claim her first road US title in September, when she won the NewAlliance New Haven (Connecticut) Road Race 20K in 1:08:49 after finishing fifth there in 2003.
Twin Cities was Johnson Lane's third career marathon. In the 2003 running of the Twin Cities Marathon, she placed sixth in 2:40:14, qualifying her for the Olympic Trials, and at the Olympic Trials Marathon itself in St. Louis in April, she shook off a winter pockmarked by injuries to finish 20th in 2:40:58.
Johnson Lane, who has run 16:25 for 5K and 33:50 for 10K, placed eighth at the 2003 Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon in a personal-best 1:13:59 and followed that up by finishing ninth in there in 2004; in both years, the event served as the USA Half-Marathon Championship. She has represented the US on three international Ekiden (marathon relay) teams as well. She is a 1997 graduate of Luther College, where she won five Division III NCAA national titles and was a nine-time All-American.
October has been a whirlwind month for Johnson Lane. In addition to cultivating a sterling effort at Twin Cities, she was named an AARC/RRCA Roads Scholar and undertook a move from Statesboro, Georgia where she and her husband Todd had coached at the college level for seven years to Muncie, Indiana, where Todd accepted a position as assistant women's track coach at Ball State University.
Fast-Women.com pinned the effusive but self-effacing 28-year-old down for long enough to collect her thoughts on her rise to prominence over the past several years.
Congratulations on your Twin Cities finish.
In terms of your Twin Cities goals, were you hoping primarily to make
the 2005 US World Championship team or operating on the idea that
you can't dictate what others do were you looking first and foremost
at a certain time?
Was your training for Twin Cities similar to that for your previous two
marathons or have you refined your formula as you've progressed?
This was only my third marathon, and there is still a lot for me to learn about the event, which is exciting to me. My training volume was higher this year; I have always been a pretty low-mileage runner and just wanted to be smart about my progression. The important thing about the marathon is getting to the starting line healthy. If you can survive the training, the race is the reward. That is what you work so hard for to be as well-prepared as you possibly can when you finally get the opportunity to race.
Before Twin Cities last year, my highest weekly mileage was 84. This year I had a couple weeks of 101 and 103, with nothing below 80. That is the highest I've ever been, but I felt really good doing it.
After Twin Cities last year, I ended up having some knee problems and didn't run at all for about six weeks between mid-November and January. I did quite a bit of cross training, but it just doesn't feel the same. So when it was time to start my marathon buildup for the Olympic Trials, I felt like I was basically starting from nothing. My coach and I wanted to be conservative. My 20th-place finish at the Trials came off of 50 to 55 miles a week.
Congratulations also on being selected as a 2004 Roads Scholar. Add recently
moving to the mix and you could be forgiven for feeling unsettled, albeit
not in a bad way.
You mentioned moving. My husband (and coach) Todd Lane and I spent the last seven years coaching at Georgia Southern University, but he recently took an assistant track coaching position at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. It was hard to leave our teams at Georgia Southern and of course the weather but we are excited about the program at Ball State.
You've put together some great races in your home state. Do you miss being
part of Team USA Minnesota?
The group itself is awesome. Who wouldn't want to train with some of America's best distance runners? At the time I went, with people like Carrie Tollefson and Katie McGregor, it didn't get any better than that. And it still doesn't. They continue to attract high caliber runners (Jenelle Deatherage, Sara Wells, Dana Coons, Kristen Nicolini). They are great athletes, but also just very nice people. And of course it goes without saying that at the center of this circle of athletes is their coach, Dennis Barker. I have nothing but great things to say about Dennis.
When I went to Team USA MN, I was looking at it as a one-year experience. I basically left everything husband, dogs, job to train with them. It was a decision my husband and I didn't make lightly, but when there is a purpose, a reason, behind a major decision, it makes it much easier to understand. I wanted to find out how good I could be, and if this is what I needed to do what was going to help me get better we were willing to do it. After I left, I didn't see my husband for over two months.
With the move Indiana, will you be working or will you now be training
What's it like having a spouse who doubles as a coach? This seems to be
a fairly common arrangement.
In college, you were a five-time national champ and pulled off the 5K/10K
double win as senior, but your times were 'only' 35:46 and 17:01. Were
you confident all along of making the jump to the top level of American
What has kept me focused all these years is just seeing how good I can be. Whether or not I reach a certain time isn't the end-all for me. I want to keep going and I won't find out I good I can be unless I keep trying. Each year, I have always felt that my best running days are ahead of me, and I'm not about to change my thinking any time soon.
Each year, I continue to set my goals, work hard, try to do the little things that make the difference, and hopefully put myself in an even better position for the following year. It is amazing the improvements that can be realized especially after college among people who continue to train. For the most part, if you look at who our Olympians are, for the distance events, anyway, you don't see collegians you see the people who have [continued training].
In a related vein, it seems that relatively few successful women distance
runners continue competing seriously after college. Did you always plan
to keep running after graduating?
I think these training groups are helpful in keeping runners, especially women, in the sport. But progress takes time. Think back to the pioneers of women running in this country; I doubt any of them dreamed there would come a time when women could make a living from running.
You have the perspective of both an athlete and a coach. In your view,
what could be done to improve the retention of post-collegiate women runners?
The second part falls on the athlete. It is ultimately the inner desire and passion of a runner that drives her. As a coach, I can try to educate them in different areas, but I can't give them passion; that comes from within.
You quadrupled (1,500m, 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000m) at the Iowa Intercollegiate
Athletic Conference meet as a senior. Assuming you have any recollection
of this at all, what's your overriding memory from this extravagant burst?
Shades of a future marathoner there?
So the following year, I asked my coach if it would be okay if I did the 1,500 also. I felt bad because I knew it would take away a spot from a teammate, but if I had the ability to help our team, that's what needed to happen. The races went well, and with everyone's help we won the meet. Coach Betsy Emerson got thrown in the steeplechase pit and we all went home happy.
That is one of my most favorite running memories. No individual accomplishments, no matter how great, can supersede things you accomplish as part of a team. It's a feeling I'll never forget
Getting back coaching, you originally moved to Statesboro mainly because
your husband took a coaching position at Georgia Southern University.
At the time you relocated, were you already slated to help coach the women's
When did you first start running?
You've mentioned George Sheehan's writing in interviews. Any other primary
sources of inspiration, past or present?
Your New Haven races the past two years, along with your run at the USA
Half-Marathon Championships in 2003, suggest that the 20K/half-marathon
distance treats you especially well. Your growing marathon success notwithstanding,
would you say it's your favorite distance at this point?
Looking at your stats (i.e., your 5K and 10K times vs. 20K and half-marathon
times) and your progression, along with your relative lack of experience
with the marathon, you appear to be a 2:32 runner waiting to happen. Care
to make public any secret goals you're harboring?
What do you hope to look back on in 10 or 15 years?
conducted October 13, 2004, and posted October 27, 2004.)