Julia Heymach, rising sophomore and 2013 5A Cross Country State Runner-Up, reflects on her first year of high school running and goals for the upcoming cross country season which will be a new chapter for her after transfering to Lamar High School in Houston over the summer. Her new team will receive a huge boost in Heymach who was the highest-ranked freshman cross country runner of 2013 in Texas, with a 5k PR of 17:36. Milesplit had the opportunity to interview the sub-5 miler and 10:46 3200m runner as she preps for this fall's season of races.
How did you first get started in running?
Heymach: I played softball until through 3rd grade, and running the bases was one of my favorite parts of the sport. The team nicknamed me Speedy, and I decided to enroll in a summer track club nearby in 4th grade. I loved track from my very first season and stayed with it ever since.
What did you expect coming into freshman year as far as competition and how competitive you were compared to other high school runners?
Heymach: Having only run with my age group in summer track, I realized that going into high school would be a big leap. I knew that as a 5A school in Texas, the meets Manvel HS attended- especially the state meets- would be incredibly competitive, and that I would be running against nationally ranked girls. But I have looked forward to those races the most; I always learn from my competitors and they drive me to work as hard as I can.
What would you consider as your greatest strength as a runner and the area that you would like to most improve upon?
Heymach: I have a good mix of leg speed and endurance, which makes me a pretty versatile runner, but I need to build upon my endurance to become more competitive with the top girls in the state. Before high school, I did mostly interval training so freshman year we built up my mileage very slowly and kept it on the low side so I wouldn't get injured. I hope that as my training load increases a bit each year, I will be able to push my pace further.
What would you pick as your top running achievement so far and why?
Heymach: The New Balance Indoors Emerging Elite 2 mile was an incredible race for me, because it highlighted how I've grown as a runner over the years. The other girls in the race were fast, but I just focused on running the times I knew I could, and then gave it my all near the end of the race. I prepared well, stuck to a strategy, and carried it out. I ended up with a PR and a national award that I'm proud of.
What was the toughest or best workout that you have ever completed?
Heymach: This past track season I've done many workouts to build up my aerobic threshold, and many repeat miles or 800s at a certain pace. One of the most grueling workout I've done was four repeat 800s at 2:25.
Heymach: The end of the season may not have gone as well as planned, but I do feel accomplished for the work I put in during track season, and my performances in other races. I understand that races don't always unfold as you hoped they would, and there are so many variables and conditions that can affect you on a given day. It's hard to predict how your body will react to different types and levels of training, which is one of the hardest parts of running. It seemed like I peaked a little earlier on in the season, but I will use this as a learning experience and motivation for next year.
Heymach: After State I took a break for a couple of weeks to focus on recovering from my first year of high school running. I ran an easy three miles every couple of days, but just began to train consistently again. My main goal for the summer is to pick up my mileage to build a strong base for the upcoming season- Hopefully I will improve a lot this season, through a combination of more intensive endurance training and speed workouts.
What is your season schedule of races and which meets are you most looking forward to?
Heymach: I am not sure. I just moved from Pearland to Houston so I will be attending a new school (Lamar High School) and don't know our race schedule yet.
What are your top goals for the upcoming cross country season?
Heymach: Throughout the season, I want to improve my times, even though different courses vary considerably. I would love to qualify for either Nike or Foot Locker, and place in the top 3 at state. And I am always eager for the experience cross country brings, especially in terms of pacing and race strategy.
Last year you were the cross country state runner-up. What would it mean to you to be the 2014 cross country state champion?
Heymach: Winning the state championship would be huge, particularly considering that there are several girls who performed really well during the track season who have a good shot at it. I would also be happy to be one of the top girls again, as long as I improved from last year and am healthy; The bigger picture is important to me, I am not just concerned about the outcome of the current season, but in improving over my entire high school career. I don't want to burn out by training harder that my body is ready for. Hopefully I will come out even stronger this season than I did the last, and I am excited for the opportunities that the upcoming cross country season brings.