DES MOINES, Iowa -- Despite humid early morning conditions, Maria Michta claimed her fourth consecutive USA Outdoor title in the women’s 20,000m race walk to kick off Saturday competition at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium. Also during morning competition, Nathaniel Roberts claimed the men’s junior 10,000m race walk event.
Michta, (Long Island, N.Y.) a 2012 Olympian in the event, finished in a time of 1:37:34.46, which was just off her season best of 1:35:38 that she walked at the Pan American Race Walk Cup Trials in March. Erin Gray (Lebanon, N.Y.) finished second (1:39:19.80) and Miranda Melville (Rush, N.Y.) (1:40:38.14) finished third. The top three all walked under the World Outdoor Championships A standard.
Roberts battled Alex Peters (Bartlett, Ill.) before for the first 25 laps before pulling away in a close finish. Despite claiming two red card violations in the first 15 laps, Roberts claimed his first USA Outdoor junior title in a time of 52:06.97 while Peters was second in 52:08.62. Alex Peters’s brother, Anthony (Bartlett, Ill.), finished third.
You can find complete results from the morning race walk competition here.
Race Walk Athlete Quotes
On what she needs to work on for Moscow:
“I need to smooth out my form again because I’m starting to get a lot of [disqualifications] which is not a good thing. That’s my primary goal heading into the next eight weeks. A lot of Yoga and Pilates for strength training and upping that regime. Doing a lot of hill repeats will smooth out my stride, which I have kind of dropped off of the past two weeks with school winding up and nationals.”
On whether she will race again before Moscow:
“I don’t know. It all really depends. Maybe, I’ll do a road race up in Eugene. I race August 13th and schools starts back the August 12th, so I’ll have to talk the administration about that. They know I’ve been training really hard. Last year, I hoped to make the Olympics and I would have missed the beginning of school then, too. It will be easier the second year because I am used to the curriculum and the work load shouldn’t be too bad. I think it’s worth it.”
On how she balances her schedule between school and training:
“Very carefully. One thing that is really fortunate is that our school has two campuses. One in Pomona, Calif., and one in Oregon. Because we have the two campuses all of our lectures are streamed live and recorded afterward. Lucky, if I miss a lecture I can go back and watch it later. We do have required classes that I can’t miss, so I do have to work my training schedule around that. It’s doable I just takes a lot of organization.
On her performance today:
“It was pretty hot and humid. It was kind of hard to tell where it was going to go, especially with the wind. About halfway through I could tell that I was not adapting to the weather conditions. So I just told myself, ‘All you have to do is get third today, get your best placing, and don’t get disqualified and make that trip.’ It became a reevaluation of goals through mid-race.
On techniques not to get disqualified:
“At this level, you know how to have the technique going and to keep it smooth. When it comes to extreme conditions your body breaks down and you become a little tired and you get a little sloppy with your form. You just want to make sure that you are maintaining the best technique possible.
On what is on her mind during a race:
“You want to know who is ahead of you and by how far, who is behind you and by how far. When you’re on the track and you’ve got 50 laps you’re just counting down the laps. Telling yourself, ‘Almost there, keep going. Keep trucking. Almost there.’ Taking each lap one at a time, each kilometer -- so two and half laps around the track -- one at a time. And keep motivating yourself saying, ‘You’re almost there. Keep focused. Almost there.’”
On racing on a track compared to on a road course:
“I like racing on the track better. More people to see, more people to catch to keep you motivated, and to keep a certain pace. But on a road course, it works just as well. As long as its a good course, meaning it’s nice and flat and well paved.”
On competing at Drake:
“It’s great. It’s such a well-known university and this track has been know for good times and great races. It’s really great being here and I’m happy it was here.”
On what is next:
Keep training and keep working on my dissertation back at the lab. I have an awesome support staff there, with my buddies. They keep me busy.
On how she is able to keep her pace:
Tim Seaman is my coach and he has an excellent philosophy. He has a book called Racing Smarter by Training Harder. It’s basically we have two hard days a week and the rest is steady mileage that we keep going with. It’s really worked for me and we have built in a lot of recovery time. This is the first time going into this race that I haven’t been injured. We are not really changing anything just improving on what we are already doing.
On her goals for Rio (2016 Olympic Games):
“I have my eyes set on the American record in Rio. Who knows, every time I train with Tim [Seaman] it feels like I PR. I take a minute to two minutes off. I’m at 1:32:27 right now, why not think about sub 1:30. It’s a little scary to think about right now, but in three years who knows. I’m not going to put a limit on my potential.”
On winning her fourth 20 km US Championship:
“It means alot. Coming off the Olympic year, everyone feels like they have a lot of pressure and that definitely was the case with me. We had this little training camp in December and it wasn’t about defending title, they told us to think of it as capturing another title. That’s what I went for. My goal was just to make the world team. It’s such a special feeling when you get your USA uniform and you get to try it on and wear it. To have achieved that today by winning the title means so much."
Men’s Junior 10 km
On the conditions being a factor:
“I’m from Oregon. So, it’s not humid there at all. Training for the humidity you have to put water in your mouth to really feel what it is like. I really didn’t want to suffocate.”
On the risk of disqualification:
“I had two red cards after the first 15 laps. I had to keep it under control. Just make sure I keep my feet on the ground at all times to make sure I wouldn’t get called for anything. I kept my shoulders relaxed so I wouldn’t come off the ground. I’ve gotten two red cards before, so it’s nothing new. I’ve never been disqualified so I would rather keep that streak alive.”
Thoughts about the race:
“It’s really hot. It felt pretty good. There was a lot of sun, but that was good. It was nicer weather than a lot of track meets I’ve been to.”
On how the weather affected him:
“When the weather is as it was today I get tired a little faster. My legs feel heavier. It bothers my technique a little and I just have to adjust. I try to concentrate on certain parts of my legs. My lower legs hurt a little more, so I try to concentrate on fixing that.”
On walking with his brother:
“He ended up getting third. We walked together a little bit during the beginning. We walk in the same club so it’s not that big of a surprise to see him and compete against him.”
Thoughts on the race:
“It was definitely a tough race. The weather could have been a little cooler. It was good competition.”
On adjust to the weather:
“A lot of water. The sponges helped, just right down the back. Anything to stay hydrated.”
On competing with an injury:
“My shins were hurting from the start of the race. There is no real way to cope with you. You have to maintain form. You can’t stop and rub it out. You have to keep going and hopefully it will go away.”