Three Questions for Colorado Racing Club’s Olympic Trials Power Trio

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By Terzah Becker

One of the many pleasures of running in Boulder is running with — and in my case behind! — competitors who challenge me to hit paces I’d never see on my own. As a Boulder Coaching client of Darren De Reuck, I occasionally join the Saturday workouts of the Boulder Striders and the Colorado Racing Club. This fall and winter, that’s meant I’ve had the honor of running behind Colleen De Reuck, Joanna Zeiger and Shawna McClain, the CRC trio who will line up at this Saturday’s Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles.

I won’t outline their stellar resumes here (go check out Mike Sandrock’s recent column on them in the Daily Camera for more details on that). But as I am scheduled to line up for the LA Marathon the day after their big race, I asked each of them to answer three questions for me in hopes that some of the inspiration I draw from them will push me and others to new heights in our beloved sport. Here they are in their own words:

1. How has your training gone for the Trials and what are your goal(s) for the race?

COLLEEN: My training for the trials has gone well. I have not reached the mileage that I normally would have done for a marathon, though. My goal is to have a good solid race, but to enjoy the race weekend, meeting up with friends. My brother Colin will be coming over from Australia to watch the trials and then he and Darren will run the LA marathon on Sunday. And Monday we will take our eight-year-old, Tara, to Disneyland. So a busy weekend for all.

JOANNA: My training for the Trials has been hampered by a long-term injury to my ribs that occurred during a bike accident in 2009. I had three surgeries from 10/2014-9/2015 and 20 injections from 6/2015-1/2016. Due my injury, training is inconsistent – I can pull off a good training session or long run, but I also have a lot of days where I am unable to execute my workouts. My goal is to finish the race, even if it means walking.

SHAWNA: Training for the Trials has been interesting. Coming off of racing CIM just two months ago, my coach and I were focused more on sustaining my fitness, getting some rest and staying healthy. I found the mental aspect of this harder than the physical. Mentally I was used to going into a marathon with a big ramp up, long training and a good solid taper. Working off CIM as my foundation and only getting one 21 mile run in made me feel like I was slacking. However, coming off of CIM and almost a full year of training, I was tired. The down time I have had was definitely needed and I am hoping it will make me stronger in the end. The marathon is a beast; you can go into it with solid training and have a bad day or have “okay” training and have the best race of your career. My goals for the Trials: start and finish! Anything in-between will be a bonus. We all put in solid races to get here. Time to just run our own race and enjoy the day.

2. You are all well-rounded athletes. Colleen is now a world champion triathlete in addition to her running history. Joanna is an Olympic and world champion triathlete. And Shawna was a highly competitive soccer player. How does running compare, and how is it enriched by, the other sports in your past and present?

COLLEEN: I have many years of running under my belt. It sure does give me plenty of experience, but one still needs to respect the marathon. I have switched to triathlons the last few years to add a new excitement into my training. Joanna switched to running as I was switching to tris. We swapped sports.

JOANNA: I have been a competitive athlete for 38 years. The mental and physical skills that I used for success in swimming and triathlon directly carry over to the sport of running. I learned so much over the years about dealing with pressure, managing expectations and understanding that injuries are a part of sport, that at this point in my athletic career I am able to much better handle the setbacks.

SHAWNA: I believe growing up playing soccer helped shape the runner I am today. I started playing when I was really young. From day one I was playing on a coed team. I learned how to be aggressive like a boy and tough like a girl. Soccer is a game of fitness and strategy. The marathon, like soccer, is also a game of fitness and strategy. You have to put in the training and come up with a race plan…what pace to go out, when to pick it up, where to take your nutrition, when to make the right move and take the lead or even when to call it a day and be smart. Of course, I never realized playing soccer was actually a lot of running. If you asked me to go out and just run, I would have looked at you like you were crazy! Now a runner, a distance runner, I am grateful for those Saturday morning soccer games where I unknowing ran 5-7 miles.

3. How does training together help you all, and what do you each admire most about your two fellow Trials-bound teammates?

COLLEEN: Colorado Racing Club has three runners born in three different decades going to the Trials. Darren De Reuck has coached Shawna for eight years, Joanna for the last six years and me forever. When Shawna and Joanna qualified, I was thrilled. It added a new element to my training. It is good to share training, stories and successes and failures with teammates as you prepare for the journey.

Shawna works full time and is a Mom. Juggling that full load on top of training is a huge task and one that she does with ease. She is always upbeat at training, gives it her all.

Joanna lives down the road from me and she keeps me honest in getting me out for runs, with her dog Diesel. She is a true competitor who never gives up. She has been dealing with injuries from a bike accident (that made her leave tris). She is continually working through pain and ways to deal with the injuries–never taking NO for an answer.

JOANNA: We had a blast training together. Colleen and Shawna, as well as Coach Darren and the other runners in our group, have been a superb support system during my injury. It is very difficult going on training runs when you know that many times the run will be disaster; Shawna and Colleen offered support and kindness, making it easier for me to get out there and try, knowing I would not be met with ridicule if my day ended poorly. It has been an absolute pleasure watching Shawna grow as an athlete and achieve her goals. And, Colleen? Well, she is a legend.

SHAWNA: I think training together has definitely made us all stronger. We each come from different running backgrounds and have gone through athletic adversity in one way or another. We are able to share our experience, learn from our own paths and push each other in various ways because of them. The commonality we share is that we all show up to training to dig deep and do work, and between the three of us …no matter the outcome of a given race, you can guarantee we each gave it 100% effort.

What I have learned from each of my teammates: Colleen….she is a humble and simple runner. She trains hard and doesn’t over-think. She has taught me to listen to myself and my body, to trust in the training….She is a badass woman with so much grace! Joanna…one of the most hardcore and strong athletes I have ever encountered. One of my favorite lessons I learned this past year from Joanna was to stop caring what others think, especially of my races. It is so easy to have a bad race and beat yourself up. Joanna has gone through a lot of physical adversity this past year with surgeries and healing. Through it all she has maintained her determination to build, re-build and re-build again with a lot of hard and frustrating races along the way.

Both Joanna and Colleen share the definition of mental strength. I think we all do. Since running with both Joanna and Colleen, I have been able to push myself harder, dig that much deeper and remember that there are more bad races than good. It’s the training and the people you train with that make the journey worth traveling over and over again. I am proud to be toeing the line as the teammate of such incredible athletes and mentors.

Darren De Reuck of Colorado Racing Club watching splits as Trials Qualifier Shawna McClain works through a final workout

Colorado Racing Club Head Coach Darren De Reuck watches the splits as Trials Qualifier Shawna McClain works through one of her final workouts before the Olympic Trails in Los Angeles Feb 13.


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