Katie's Back! Time for Another Flood Watch
Sept. 28, 2012
By Gregg Bell
SEATTLE - This fall and winter, the Huskies track and cross country programs want to trumpet just how special Katie Flood is.
Loudly. Proudly. And somewhat comically.
UW associate head coach Jason Drake is spearheading the idea of issuing a blaring "Flood Watch" each time the six-time All-American and most accomplished single-year distance runner in Huskies history steps to the line at home track meets inside Washington's Dempsey Indoor facility.
Maybe a Civil Defense-like siren. Spinning red lights. Perhaps storm warning flags could fly around the starting line, to declare to all that something special is about to happen. That Katie Flood is about to run again.
The somewhat shy junior from Des Moines, Iowa, just giggles at the idea.
"J.D. is pretty excited about it," she said of Drake, breaking into a full laugh. "I think it's funny.
"I mean, I think it's more entertaining for him than for me," Flood said this week upon returning from a 10-mile training run with her team along Lake Washington. "It's just kind of funny."
Funny, but fitting.
Why not highlight what's next from Flood, beginning Saturday in Louisville, Ky.? She was to make her season debut for the No.-1 ranked Huskies women's cross-country team at the Greater Louisville Classic.
"The first race is always a little bit of a shock to the system, I would say. But once you get a couple races into it you start to feel a groove and start to feel more comfortable running 6K," Flood said of the cross-country race distance.
The top collegiate finisher at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., this summer took last week's season-starting Sundodger Invitational off and is just now getting back into a training groove.
"I feel like I am still building up my training right now," she said.
"I'm just really looking forward to racing. I've been slowing building over the last few weeks. I want to do well the next couple of meets, but I want to be able to perform at the conference meet and the national meet, if our team is lucky enough to be there."
Flood spent two weeks this summer in Colorado, where her sister Betsy, a standout distance runner recently at the University of Iowa, lives. Then she spent blissful time vegging out in Seattle at the beginning of July.
"I actually took two full weeks off of lying around and doing nothing," Flood said, almost proudly. "By the end of it, I was ready to go again.
"It was actually kind of nice. It's a good time to catch up on everything you haven't been doing. Catching up with friends, work you've put off. Also, it is a nice time to kind of leisure, to do some activities you are not supposed to do during the season. Play sports. Water ski."
The fact she's even competing in September is progress. A year ago this month she was shut down from running because of mononucleosis.
Now, she's kissing greatness.
"Throughout the year, (I want to) continue to build fitness," she says, "and maybe be better than I was last year."
Whoa ... better?
She's returning from one of the best running seasons in UW history. She seized two NCAA championships as a sophomore, winning the national 1,500-meter title outdoors in her hometown three months after anchoring the distance medley relay to the NCAA championship indoors.
She became the first Husky woman to win multiple NCAA titles - ever -- let alone two in a single year.
Her national indoor championship in the distance medley relay came when she brought the Huskies back from eighth to first during her final, 1,600-meter leg. It was the first indoor title in UW's women's track history, and it capped the best indoor season Washington has ever seen. Flood ran a 3,000-meter school record of 8:55.31, the fifth-fastest by an American collegian indoors or out. Two weeks later she ran a mile record of 4:28.48, the fourth-fastest in NCAA history.
Then last June back on her home track at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, she thrilled her grandparents, parents, family members and thousands who had watched her grow up there at state high-school meets and the Drake Relays. She took the lead around the final turn of the 1,500-meter final and held it over the final 100 to win that national title in 4:13.79. It was the first individual crown for a Husky woman since Amy Lia in 2006.
That helped the UW women's team to an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoors, the best in school history.
So, yeah, she deserves a siren or two.
"Yeah, last track season was a lot of fun," Flood understated.
She said winning a national title in her hometown "was a lot to take in. I think in the moment I was just really happy, and I was really satisfied with it. But I don't think it really sunk in until the next few weeks.
"And still, when I think about it, I think, `Wow. That was something really special!'"
A few weeks later she ran a personal best in the semifinals of 1,500 at the Olympic trials, but was disappointed at missing out on a place in the finals by two spots.
"I mean, it was cool," she says. "The ultimate goal was to make the final and I fell a little short of that, which was OK for where I am right now.
"Being in those kind of races early on in your career are experiences you can't replicate or duplicate in your training. So to just have that experience and know where I need to be in the next four years is very valuable."
Yes, the next four years. She has her eyes and her running shoes pointed squarely toward becoming an Olympian in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
"I think it made me feel like I was closer. I was there - and I could be there, if I needed to," she said of her performance at the Olympic trials.
"For where I was at this year, I think I had a pretty good showing at the trials. But I think I still have a lot of room to grow and improve. So I feel like when it comes around again I'll be in a different place. And I will be one of those girls that is gunning for the top three spots."
Another thing she took away from the trials: She needs to run more.
The most she trained last year was 60 miles a week, which she says "is a good amount but is nothing crazy. So I'm going to run a little bit more."
She's up to 70 miles per week now and says "over the years I will probably build to help my fitness and build a bigger base.
"It was really obvious everyone there was in peak form, peak condition, just absolutely ... just ready to go. Just ready to run. I think I have a ways to go until I am at that peak level of performance. But I think that just comes with consistent training in the next few years."
Improving upon greatness.
Sounds like a reason to start another Flood watch.