Lori Kingsley of Wysox, PA is a relative latecomer to running, but in short order she has distinguished herself as a standout masters competitor at distances ranging from the 5K to the marathon. She won the women’s masters title at both the USATF 15K and Half Marathon Championships last year, as well as running sub 2:47 at Boston. Lori managed to run a 2:51 at the Masters Marathon Championships at Twin Cities while fighting off a raging infection due to an abscessed tooth. She was second masters in December’s National Club Cross Country Championships, only the second cross country race she had ever run.
This is pretty much captures the entirety of our conversation, minus some chitchat at the start. (Duration: 1:33:00; Download MP3)
I wanted to start with the National Club Cross Country Championships, which were a couple of weeks ago. It looked like you had a really good run there.
Yeah, I did.
Can you talk a little about that race? Had you expected to do that well?
It’s only the second time I’ve ever done cross country in my life. I didn’t do it in high school. I didn’t do it until I joined the team last year. They were talking about it and, you know, I’m always up for something different. I love racing. I just love to race. I thought, “Oh, this will be something fun. Something to go [do] with my team.” When you had sent out a notice about any races coming up for us, I didn’t even think to mention it. First of all, I didn’t expect to do that well. Secondly, it was just kind of, “Eh, I’m going to go with my club and do it.” But it unfolded really well.
I felt great. I got a really good start. I got some feedback from my oldest daughter, who did cross country in high school and had a scholarship. I said to her, “What would you recommend?” And, of course, Darren tailored my workout for, maybe, three weeks for cross country training. He gave me the workouts, my daughter gave me advice, and a local guy who I highly regard in cross country training said “Do 600 meters all out — hard — for that start.” And then I’d do the intervals that my coach set up. And then at the end — we live out in the mountains — I’d go out and do 10 x 30 second hill repeats, just to end on a good note with a hill. It worked out well. I got out there with the lead girls and us three pretty much gave each other a really good race. Even toward the end I thought, “No matter how this unfolds, it’s a good race.”
The woman that actually won it [Lyudmila Vasilyava], I didn’t know anything about her and thank God I didn’t. When I go into races I don’t typically look at who’s up against me. I’ll recognize names, or see people and know they’re really good. But I’m not one of those racers that look at the names and what their current status is, you know what I mean? I want to do my own races and not worry about who else is there. Plus I can get myself…like, “Oh, she just ran a 16 minute 5K…” So when I finished, this elite coordinator came up to me and said, “Did you realize?” She’s from Russia, but she became a US citizen. She held the [outdoor] 1500m world record at one point; she ran a 4:02.
So she beat us in the last 400m, which is understandable.
Yeah, I think with that piece of information, you should feel a little bit better about that!
Yeah, I did. The three of us came in pretty close together. I looked at both of them and said, “Thanks for a great race.” It was fun.
You came in second in the 40-49 AG and you were only about 10 seconds behind Vasilyeva. But there was a great series of pictures that someone took, and I don’t know what point in the race this was, but all three of you were running together up a very steep hill. What’s so notable about them is that you look really calm. You don’t look like you’re straining. You look completely in control.
Yeah, I felt that. I did. I never felt that I hit that lactic acid — you know, you get that burning. The second time we hit that hill, I did feel it — I knew my legs had worked. And then in the last 300m, I came down into the chute and looked at my watch, and it said I was running a 4:16 pace. So I knew that in the last few hundred meters, I just pushed really, really, really hard to try to hold second place overall. So, yeah, it was fun!
I’ve never done a cross-country race. I want to try one this year.
It was fun. In the last few years I’ve been trying to get myself to do different stuff, just to keep it interesting, not stagnant.
Will you return to this race next year?
It’s out in Washington, so it depends on the team. Some of them would like to go. I told them I’d like to go. The four of us who went there are the top four runners on the team, so that does help. One of our runners — who’s 45 and runs in the mid-18s, so she’s a good 5K runner, even though that course is 6K — she came down with the flu that morning. My other teammate came in fourth and she’s the one that won the 5K US Championship.
So your team is well-placed in second overall for the masters category.
Yeah, great team.
Let’s talk about your athletic background, as it were. It sounds like you didn’t have much of one before you started running.
[Laughs] It’s kind of sketchy and not good.
“There was a race up here, a Race for the Cure, where if you won you’d win round trip plane tickets. I would read the winners’ times and think, ‘There’s no way I could come close to that.’ They were running in the 17s and I’d think, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s crazy fast!’ I never even fathomed the thought of being in that league. It took me awhile to get to that.”
Well, it doesn’t seem to have mattered that much.
I smoked in high school. I went out for track for something to do. We moved to this area and it’s a small, rural area. I went from living outside Indianapolis with a class of a hundred or so students in my class alone to 120 in the whole school. It was such an adjustment. You know how you try to find your way in? I found that athletics could be my channel in making some social connections. It’s just very hard to move to a small area when the groups are gelled up pretty well.