Lucas Has Her Focus Back
June 25, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. – Perhaps NC State’s best hope for sending a distance runner to the London Olympics next month rests on the “gawky” shoulders of a slight former All-American who nearly gave up on her running career not more than a year ago.
But Julia Lucas came back – better than ever.
After surviving 11 stress fractures, multiple surgeries and significant injuries she suffered in a fire during her junior season at NC State, Lucas had had enough of healing just enough to run again. She needed a long break to let her body completely recover.
So for nine months she convinced herself that she didn’t want to run any more. It only took six weeks back at NC State, serving as a volunteer assistant with the women’s cross country team to stir up the competitive juices that allowed Lucas – who is self-confessed to be “ridiculously unathletic” – to be a track and field and cross country All-American for the Wolfpack.
Seeing her name among the All-Americans and ACC champions on the wall outside the new track and field offices made Lucas want to be successful again, and working with current athletes and coaches Rollie Geiger and Laurie Henes inspired her training.
“I stayed in Coach Henes’ attic,” Lucas told Runner’s World Magazine. “I met with the team every day. I passed a mural with a life-sized [photo] of me every day. I kind of remembered that I used to be good, I used to be a performer. I had such good memories and my coaches there loved me and kids are excited about training, and that's infectious. And I got to run with the boys on certain intervals, and that makes me feel like a bad-***.
“I found that spark. It's hard to articulate exactly what it is. But running all the miles and doing all the weights, and icing, and eating right and sleeping right, it's just gathering dry material and at the end you have a pile of sticks. And just remembering what it's like to catch fire; I caught fire again.”
On Monday, she and current Wolfpack All-American Ryan Hill and former All-American Stephen Furst will run in the preliminary round of the women’s and men’s 5,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Oregon’s Hayward Field. The women’s race is set to start at 9:05 p.,m. EDT and the men’s race is set to start at 10 p.m. Both can be seen on the NBC Sports Network on digital cable and satellite networks nationwide.
Lucas, a member of the Oregon Track Club Elite under coach Mark Rowland since 2010, lives less than a mile from Hayward Field with her husband, 2008 Olympian Ian Dobson. They’ve been there for more than three years, getting Lucas back to top-notch form.
Earlier this year, she ran a personal best of 15-minutes, 8.52-seconds in the women’s 5,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Invitational. That’s the fastest time run by an American woman this season and one of seven Olympic A standard times posted by American runners.
The two-time ACC champion will need to finish in the top 16 of today’s preliminaries to advance to Thursday’s final race. The native of Charlotte and graduate of Myers Park High School will then need to finish in the top three, on her adopted home track, to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.