Rugenstein psyched herself for WR mile by watching Billy Mills 10K
Laurie Rugenstein, who beat the listed W65 mile world record in August, said it was “king of crazy to take up track at age 60″ back in 2008. She was a road runner training for the Boston Marathon but pulled a hammie in late March, “which changed that plan.” Her masters-friendly coach in Boulder, Colorado, suggested track racing, however, and Laurie’s first meet was in June 2008. “I ran 800 wearing my heavy training shoes and got a time of 3:08.7. [Coach Ric Rojas] told me that time was good enough to get the All-American standard, and I should consider training for track races.” Five years later, she was targeting the age-group WR at the mile. And before the Fort Collins meet, she watched Billy Mills’ video from the Tokyo Olympic 10,000. “This helped me believe in myself and give myself a positive message about the outcome of the race.” I wrote Laurie for more details before learning that her race had only two entrants вЂ” and therefore ineligible for an American record. I’m not sure if that negates WR ratification as well, but her effort deserves memorialization. Hence this post and Q&A below.
Here’s my quickie Q&A with Laurie:
Masterstrack.com: What did you do athletically as a kid? Any major track achievements? Any other sports accomplishments?
Laurie Rugenstein: I played field hockey in high school. I loved it when we ran once around the track at the beginning of our PE classes, but this was in the pre-Title IX era, and girls were not allowed to compete in cross country or track and field. Outside of school I competed in sailing regattas in a class of small boats sailed by teenagers. I was the third woman in an international competition in Cape May, NJ. I also skied. I became a ski instructor while I was a senior in high school, but I never got into racing.
What were your best marks as a road runner?
I started running 1976. I lived in Vermont at the time. I wanted to get outside in the winter, and running was about the only way I could stay warm. I ran 16-20 miles a week for many years, but didn’t race much. I was working as a
musician, staying up late to play gigs, and I wasn’t able to get up early to run races.
After moving to Boulder in 1988, I began running the Bolder Boulder regularly. That race is on Monday morning, and I was able to run it.
My marks as a road runner are not outstanding. My best time in the Bolder Boulder was 44:30 when I was 42. I didn’t train to race and didn’t taking racing seriously until I was 57. That year I trained for the Bolder Boulder and ran a
time of 46:02. Over the years I won my age group 14 times in the Bolder Boulder and have 3 all-time age-group records.
Here are my best marks in road races. All of these were run at altitude except the marathon, which was the Boston Marathon in 2007.
mile: 6:16 (age 62)
5k: 21:53 (age 60)
10k: 45:17 (age 60)
1/2 marathon: 1:43.49 (age 60)
marathon: 3:44.49 (age 59)
When was your first masters track race? Why did you start track and field?
I was planning to run the Boston Marathon again in 2008 and started training with Ric Rojas my coach. I pulled a hamstring in late March, which changed that plan.
Ric suggested that I try running track the following summer for some speed work. I though it was king of crazy to take up track at age 60, but I did it. My first masters track race was in June 2008 at the Boulder Road Runners All-Comers
meet. I ran 800 wearing my heavy training shoes and got a time of 3:08.7. Ric told me that time was good enough to get the All-American standard, and I should consider training for track races.
When did you turn 65?
How did you prepare for the Fort Collins mile?
I had been training for track since early summer. I was in a new age group, and I thought it would be a challenge to try to get the All-American standard for all of the distances from 100 through the mile. I knew the 100 and 200 would be the most challenging, so I did some sprint training early in the summer. I got All-American in everything but the mile (I hadn’t run the mile yet) before USATF Masters National Championships in July.
I ran a time of 5:49.2 in a 1500 race at the Boulder Road Runners All-Comers meet on Aug. 1. That’s when I realized the mile record might be within reach. I ran the mile at the BRR All-Comers meet on Aug. 15 and got a time of 6:17.3, so I knew the record was within reach.
My main preparation during the month before the race was making sure I didn’t get hurt. I did lots of stretching, foam rolling, and massage along with my track workouts and conditioning runs. I ran about 20 miles/week and continued to
do some sprint training.
Was the WR your goal? If so, what was your race plan?
Really, my goal was just to get the record. However, my race plan was to run 1:33/400. That would result in a finishing time between 6:12 and 6:13.
What were your mile splits? Was Valerie the only other runner on the track?
I’m not sure of my mile splits. The first lap was a little fast (somewhere around 1:29), which I expected. I settled in and slowed down and came through the second lap in around 3:05. I didn’t hear the time for the third lap. I was in some kind of altered state by then. However, going into the bell lap I knew I had energy left, and I was able to pick it up. A friend told me I ran the last lap in 1:27, but I’m not sure. I just know I picked it up.
Valerie was the only other runner on the track.
You also ran the 4 and 8. Did they come before or after the mile, and which days?
I ran the 800 and the 400 after the mile on the same day and set regional records in both of those events.
This appears to be your first WR. What does it mean to beat Mare-Louise’s longstanding record?
Yes, this is my first WR. Marie-Louise in an outstanding runner, and it’s quite an accomplishment for me to beat her record!
What role did your psychology background play in your training and WR race?
The role my psychology background played was helping me stay focused and somewhat calm as I pursued this goal. I watched Billy Mills’ video in which he talks about knowing that that he was going to win the 10,000m race in the
Olympics, even though he was in 3rd place at the time. (It’s also very inspiring to watch his finish in that race!) This helped me believe in myself and give myself a positive message about the outcome of the race.
How did you celebrate the WR? Was it announced at the track?
Since I got the record in a local race, many of my running buddies were there. I watched all of them race throughout the day, and that felt like a real celebration. Yes, the WR record was announced at the track.
What are your competition plans the rest of the year? Any time goals?
My primary goal for now is to stay healthy. I was injured for the last two years. Although I was able to run, I wasn’t able to compete in track meets. I know that I have to train easier and rest more or my body won’t hold up.
I’d like to try running cross country this fall (something I’ve never done), and I’m hoping to compete at the USATF Masters Indoor Nationals. As far as time goals, I don’t know. I’ll see how things are going when I get closer to the meet.
Also, tell me about your family вЂ” cats, dogs, kids, etc. What is your support system?
My husband, David, is a huge fan of track and field. He was a sprinter when he was in high school, so he understands what’s going on. He has Parkinson’s disease. This limits our ability to travel, so it’s great to live in an areas where there are local track & field meets.
We have a Siberian Husky, Maya, who is my faithful running partner on my conditioning runs. We also have an orange tabby cat, Toby. He’s not into running, but he’s great friends with Maya.
My training group with Ric Rojas and my other running friends provide great support. Of course, Ric is a huge part of my support system. I wouldn’t be doing this at all if it weren’t for him.
I started working with Meggan last February, when my body was in pretty bad shape with multiple injuries. The exercises she gave me were intended to help me recover from the injuries, but I think they went far beyond that and actually helped me run faster.