At the Reebok Boston Games, I remember asking Anna Pierce who would be the new
find of 2010. Anna smiled, and said, ” My training partner, Morgan Uceny.” I wrote Morgan’s
name down in my note book, noting that it was time to interview her. In Albuquerque, just a month later, Morgan won the USATF Indoor title at 1,500 meters. I said hello to her later that
evening and asked if we could interview her, which she said was fine.
This past weekend, in the adidas Grand Prix 1,500 meters, a plethora of talented American women distance runners showed their stuff, from Jennie Barringer, to Christin Wurth-Thomas,
Shannon Rowbury, Shalane Flanagan, Anna Pierce and Morgan Uceny.
Morgan Uceny ran her personal best in the adidas Grand Prix 1,500 meters, a fine 4:04.10, a pb by over two seconds. We caught up with Morgan in the middle of May, after she had battled Jennie Barringer at the Payton Jordan Invitational. We hope you enjoy her interview:
Morgan Uceny, BAA Road Mile, April 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net.
RBR, # 1. What is your first memory of
Morgan Uceny: 7th grade cross country.
RBR, #2. What do you remember about
your first race?
Morgan Uceny: I don’t remember my first race specifically, but a lot of
my Junior High races were run boys and girls together, so of course one of my
earliest and fondest memories is of beating all of the boys.
RBR, #3. Tell us about your running in
Morgan Uceny: I started off running longer distances and cross country, but
eventually quit xc to focus on basketball which lead me to race shorter events
like the 400/800 on the track. I was part of several relay teams that were top 8
finishers at state and I also won the 800m state title my Junior
RBR, # 4. What was your transition from
high school to college like?
Morgan Uceny: Difficult. Track was never my number one priority in high school, so having it be such a major part of my life in college
required a lot more commitment than I was used to. My freshman year was a
tough lesson as I didn’t even make the Varsity squad. Over the summer I
was determined to get back on track and to be more responsible for myself, and
the very next season I made indoor NCAAs in the 800m.
RBR, #5. When you first went
professional, what surprised you about thedifference between college and
Morgan Uceny: The first year I felt like a fish out of water because it was
an entirely new crowd of competitors and I was running for myself, with no team
or coach traveling to every meet with me. I felt grateful to be a part of
a training group with women who had been competing at the professional level
which provided a lot of useful guidance. The actual competitive side
wasn’t that different.
RBR, #6. What would you tell high
school girls about keys to success in high school?
Morgan Uceny: Enjoy what you are
doing. Track and xc are sports where you mainly have yourself to rely on
which can seem like a lot of pressure at times. Loving what you do makes you
work harder and able to enjoy your successes even more.
RBR, #7. What was your biggest mistake
in running in college?
Morgan Uceny:My entire freshmen year would have seemed
like a giant mistake if I hadn’t learned from it, but I did and I think having
that experience was very humbling and made me a more committed runner. (My
freshman year being that I didn’t make varsity and wasn’t even coming close to
my high school PRs)
RBR, # 8. What would you tell high school girls about the
transition to college?
Morgan Uceny: It’s difficult, but being a part of teams and clubs in
high school gives you great time management skills which are key in college!
It’s important just to stay focused on why you are in college and what you want
to accomplish there.
RBR, #9. Who is your coach now?
Morgan Uceny:Terrence Mahon in Mammoth Lakes, CA
RBR, #10.What is difference between
coaching now and in college?
Morgan Uceny: For the first time in my professional career I have
a professional coach. We have a group of about 11 athletes, but Terrence does a
great job and giving each of us the individual attention we need. Other than the
running aspect, Terrence has taught me a lot about the extras, like therapy,
drills and exercises that will give us that edge.
RBR, #11. You train at Mammoth, why?
Morgan Uceny: Mostly because the group is here. I basically followed my good friend Anna
Pierce out here because of the success she had and I wanted to take my running
to the next level. It’s been an interesting experience training at altitude, but
all of the lung burn and hard work pays off back at sea level.
RBR, #12. Anna Willard told us that
you would be the new story of 2010? Whyis 2010 going so well for you?
I’m healthy and have the best coach and training partners in the country. That
coupled with my desire to be one of the best middle distance runner in the
country and in the world has allowed me to realize my potential.
Morgan Uceny, U.S. Olympic Trials, July 2008, photo by PhotoRun.net.
RBR, #13. Tell us about your
experiences in 2009 World Champs Trials & 2008 Olympic Trials?
Morgan Uceny: World Champs
Trials was basically a test of determination for me because I was coming off
injury and wasn’t in very good shape. The Olympic trials on the other hand just
showed me that I had a lot of untapped potential. I wasn’t confident enough in
my abilities but got a taste of what I was capable of when I placed 6th and 4th
in the 800m and 1500m respectively. Now with the work I have been doing I know
that I will be breaking and setting a lot of Personal records.
RBR, #14. What was going on in your
head in the 1500 in Albuquerque?
Morgan Uceny: I was racing very comfortably…I was most
focused on winning the race and unfortunately didn’t start getting the pace
going until about 400m in, so I knew that I needed to push up front to try to
get the time qualifier but it just didn’t happen. I was still happy to get the
RBR, #15. Tell us about the Boston
Morgan Uceny: The Boston Mile was one of the funnest races I have done. Road races have
a very different and fun atmosphere to them. I wasn’t interested in running a
good time because the weather conditions were already pretty lousy and there are
a light of tight turns, so I just sat in 2nd place for most of the race and then
pushed to the front with about 300m to go and ended up with the win.
Jenny Barringer (outside), Morgan Uceny (rail), Payton Jordan 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net. , May 1, 2010.
RBR, #16. Okay, tell us about Payton
Jordan 1,500 meters?
Morgan Uceny:This race was a great lesson in patience, which I currently
lack. I’m still learning how to race like a 1500m runner and that race showed
RBR, #17. What is your favorite event,
the 800 or 1,500 meters?
Morgan Uceny:The 800m is still my favorite event, but I’m slowly
becoming more and more excited about the 1500!
RBR, #18. Will we see you running
longer this season?
Morgan Uceny: Probably not! The 1500 already seems like a step up in
distance for me, but I will probably dabble in some 3ks in the
RBR, #19. What do you love about the
Morgan Uceny:I’ve learned to love the individual aspect of the sport. I am completely
accountable for the work that I put in and for the results of it which is
Morgan Uceny wins 2010 BAA Road Mile, photo by PhotoRun.net, April 2010
Special thanks to Morgan Uceny for her thoughtful answers, and Jennifer Thomas for her assistance in finding Morgan during her early season.