Blog 11-Why do I run? Part 2: Experiences & Opportunities

Cailie Logue is a homegrown girl she arguably is Kansas best female distance runner and continues to add to her resume. While in high school Cailie was a 9X Kansas state champion on the track (4x 3200m, 3x 1600m, 2x 800m) and a 4X Kansas state cross country champion. Now at Iowa State, she has earned All American honors and like the rest of us is coming to terms and learning to deal with the "new normal" that we now face.Cailie has graciously decided to help us out this year without a season and take a dive into the writing world. We thank Cailie from the bottom of our heart for taking the time from her training and studies to fit this into her busy schedule and do this for us. 

** Next week will be Cailie's last blog post

Blog 11-Why do I run? Part 2: Experiences & Opportunities

This week, my training was rest. There's been little to no structure in my day. It's been a time to do activities I wouldn't usually do like going on a few bike rides with friends, picking blueberries and blackberries, exploring local parks, and visiting friends. I've also enjoyed going for walks with my mom in the morning when I would usually be doing my run.

When I asked Jim Madison (MileSplit Webmaster) what he thought I should cover in my last few blogs, he suggested I tell some stories and mention a few famous runners or connections made while running. Those ideas went right along with one of the reasons for why I run, unforgettable opportunities and experiences.

Running took me to scenery no other activity I dedicated myself to ever has. Heading into my junior year of high school, my friends Jenny, Sara, Ryan, and I headed to Alamosa, Colorado. Home to the Adams State Grizzlies, where my friend Kaylee had committed the year before. With my parents running DII in college, I heard many stories about Adams State, a DII powerhouse and home to legendary coaches, Joe Vigil and Damon Martin.

When we got up there, we had never run at altitude, and it was honestly pretty hard for the first couple days, but by the end of camp, we could complete mile repeats in Cole Park. On the final day of camp, it is a tradition to do a long run up Mosca Pass, a large mountain, and enjoy the day at the Great Sand Dune National Park. At the end of the day, we were dunked into the freezing snow melt of Zapata Falls. We could think of no better place to train than between the mountain tops.

This experience was the first experience I had to solidify that it truly was my goal to be a collegiate runner. The culture, the teamwork, and the atmosphere of that Adams State team showed me how much I wanted to be a part of something like that.

Kaylee Bogina (middle, who was going into her freshman year at Adams State), Jenny O'Bryan (right) and I running together on a "slightly hilly" easy run.

My family and I took trips in the summer, but they were usually within driving distance and in the Midwest. One of the trips we took when I was running in high school was to South Dakota to compete at the Nike Midwest regional. I went to that meet for three years in high school (sophomore through senior), and my junior year, I qualified to go to the national meet in Portland, Oregon.

The first time I stepped on an airplane was to go to Portland. To me, Portland was a magical distance runner paradise that I had only read about on the internet. After doing my freshman research paper on Bill Bowerman and learning all about Nike's roots and the rich distance-running traditions and cultures that existed in Portland and at the University of Oregon, I was ecstatic to set foot on the West Coast.

My dad and my grandfather came with me, and it is an experience that I cherish. That race influenced the way I set goals from that point on. I knew that Alli Cash (who ran for the University of Oregon at the time) was the fastest girl to ever come out of Kansas and that she had finished in the top 40. I told myself that if Alli Cash could do it, then maybe I could too. When asked, I told people that my goal was to be in the top 20 that day.

Once I arrived, I was nervous. I saw lots of high school athletes I had only read about on the internet. I felt a little misplaced and under-confident, as many of the girls already knew each other, and I didn't have any previous connections. I planned for a "running trip," so I didn't know about the post-race banquet and ended up wearing jeans instead of a nice dress. Many people were talking about their in-season dietary restrictions, cross training, and other things I didn't do. I just kept thinking to myself, I don't do any of these things...Maybe the Heartland is a weaker region?...Am I supposed to be here? Just for a future reference-always know you belong in a race when you have earned your way there. The Heartland girls region collectively won the meet.

Shortly after arriving, I soon began to go out on a limb and talk to some runners I had looked up to throughout my running career- Bethany Hasz and Stephanie Jenks, as well as the other girls on the Heartland team, and the experience was really unforgettable even before the race began. I distinctly remember the boys playing video games with Matthew Centrowitz and Alexi Pappas telling us about the new movie she was directing calledTrack Town. At dinner, I gathered up a little nerve, walked up to Matt Centrowitz, and asked him if I could please have an autograph for a friend (who had a crush on him). He kindly obliged. I took that small dining hall napkin back home, framed it, and gave it to my friend and teammate, Christian.

On race day, I remember being nervous, but realized I had nothing to lose. No one had expectations for me. I was just really happy to be there having that experience. Standing on the starting line surrounded by athletes I only read about on the internet and followed on Instagram I felt nervous, yet grateful.

In the first 100m of the race, I slipped in the mud and nearly fell, but I caught myself and somehow that helped me loosen up, and made me feel like I had already lucked out in some way. In high school, I was a front runner. I liked to be at the front of every race, trying to push the pace. I decided that I would front run every pack I came upon (which I now realize is not actually sound tactical advice at all times, but anyway...), and I just kept feeling fine, so I would run to the front of each pack I moved up to. After a while, I heard somebody yell "800m left" to an athlete nearby, and I thought to myself how good I felt for with so little distance left in the race, so I started to kick. Turns out that there was about a mile left in that race, but my own cluelessness benefited me in this situation, as I had the strength to hang on to the kick I started; it was just the confidence that I needed. Eventually, I looked up and there were no packs left to front run, only one girl, who was far ahead of everyone else, Katie Rainsberger.

I finished third, and I realized how much fun I had been having when I wasn't worried about the outcome right in the middle of the race. My favorite part of this memory is finding my grandpa and dad right after the race. I will never forget it. My grandfather just kept saying to me and my dad, "What did you just do?!?" in disbelief. My dad and grandpa are not emotional people, and they were nearly in tears.

My grandfather and father's support in that moment made all the difference to me. After the race, we tracked down the VooDoo donut truck, which I didn't know existed until I heard about it from the other girls, and all of us got donuts and walked around cheering for people in the men's race and soaking in the environment of the huge pine trees and the drizzly Oregon winter rain.

This is the post-race interview I had: during which I reflect on my goals as a runner during that time and the race. Here's another where my donut and my dad make a guest appearance:

I knew that running had given me opportunities before, but this was the first time I saw running fly me across the country to have an experience that I will never forget. This race also led into another opportunity to travel and meet more runners from across the country. The top-finisher eligible to return to NXN the following year automatically qualified to attend a camp for distance runners sponsored by Nike in Portland on the University of Oregon's campus. After my junior year, I went to the camp in early July, which was during the Olympic Trials.

I remember arriving on the Nike campus, slightly late because of my flight, and getting to talk to Amy Hastings-Cragg, who was also a role-model of mine as she was a Kansas girl in high school, and Shalane Flanagan. They asked us to share our most-embarrassing moments. Called on to go first, I wasn't really prepared to share as soon as I walked into the room, and the only thing I could think about in the moment was something about peeing my pants during a race. Being tired and jetlagged, I said that out loud. The pros were nice and said something like "Oh, that's not that bad. Everybody does that." Many girls shared the same experience afterward. Unfortunately, since then I have expanded my embarrassing sports moment experiences, so I have some better ones in my back pocket to share if that ever comes up again.

During camp, we trained on Pre's Trails and ate in the University of Oregon's dining halls. I did a speed workout with some the best high school girls in the nation. We had Q & A's with the pro athletes, and I sat with people I only usually read about on the internet. As you can see, I was definitely internally "fan-girling" (and apparently, I still am). The girls and I got to know each other better, and it was fun to become friends with them and share experiences. Some of us were juniors and shared our thoughts about the recruiting process. I distinctly remember many of the girls were going on a visit to Harvard, and when they asked some of us if we were going to visit, Kate Murphy made us all laugh by saying, "I ain't about that stressful life." Kate Murphy and Sammy Watson were competing in the Olympic trials with the pros, and everyone else at the camp would be racing in the high school "trial mile," a mile race which many of us admitted we weren't sharp for, but I think we could all agree we were just excited to step out and race at Hayward Field.

The sound of the crowd and the green and yellow blur of the backstretch during that race was also better than anything I could have dreamt up. It was true what they said about Hayward field; it too felt like a magical place to me. After the race, we went around to all the vendors, we all stuck on "Run Gum" tattoos from Nick Symmonds, and we were just once again really soaking in the experience-grateful to be there.

It is fun to see some of the girls at college meets. Although they are scattered around the nation, I like getting to root for them and race them!

Some the girls I met, trained with, and raced with at Nike Distance camp.

Looking back, I remember not running a personal best in the race, but I still remember it being fun. Right after the race, I made a small vow to myself that I would do everything I could to have another opportunity to come back and run at the Olympic Trials. I wanted to step foot on that Hayward Field track again.

On a side note: There is one sight I wanted to see while in Portland that I still haven't. On the Nike campus, there is this track that is surrounded by trees. When I was in middle school, I thought that was the "coolest thing I had ever seen," but due to flight delays on both of my trips to Portland, I missed the designated time to see it.

Having one good race led to another opportunity, and this was not the only time that this occurred in my high school career. During my junior track season, my dad told me I needed to get good at the mile so I could learn to race. I was really looking to break my mile PR, and I thought the Shawnee North Relays with the help of Molly Born and Emily Venters would be just the place to do so. It was once againAlli Cash who held the meet record, which at the time I saw to be far out of reach. However, my dad and I did lots of speed work to specifically prepare for this race, as we saw it as an opportunity to set a PR. On the day, I ran a 4:44, a new meet record, and once again I was shocked.

I gasped to my dad, "What did you say my time was?!" 4:44 he said back, and I could tell he was just as excited as me.

Running this time in track season also gave me opportunities. At the conclusion of my senior year, I went to race at the Boston Boost Games in the "Dream Mile," which was a dream of mine.

I distinctly remember really wanting to break 4:40 before I finished my high school career (once again I think Allie Cash had run 4:38 at the Dream Mile as a senior in high school). The field went out slow, so I threw tactics aside and tried to front run the race; it didn't lead me to "winning" the race, but it did lead to the fastest mile I have run to this day, 4:42.94.