Sept. 29, 2008
1. Last we heard, you were initially planning on going to Brazil for a pharmacology research project -- what did you end up doing right after graduation?
A couple weeks after graduation I traveled to Brazil, where I spent about ten weeks doing pharmacology research studying the effects of beta blockers on the Central Nervous System. A few weeks after coming back to the States, I moved to Ann Arbor to begin graduate school. Currently, I am a third year PhD candidate in the Chemical Biology Program here at the University of Michigan.
2. So tell us what you are specifically studying in that program right now and what your plans are for the future.
I am also in a pharmacology lab here at Michigan, where we study several aspects of various proteins that are involved in heart failure. My plans for the future are no where near set in stone. The program here and the research here are really tough and make me question (and occasionally want to change) my future plans. I could see myself as a professor (of course, teaching pharmacology/biochemistry) while conducting research with my own lab. I would enjoy that, but it is a tough field so I'll have to see how things play out.
3. What are some of your favorite memories of being a student-athlete at Memphis and are you still running?
I'm not sure I have any major favorite memories of being a student-athlete at Memphis...nothing really stands out. All though one of my favorite moments at Memphis was attending the game and watching our basketball team beat Gonzaga when both teams were ranked. The FedEx forum was crazy during that game...and I absolutely love the "I'm so glad I go to U of M" song...I am glad I went to U of M and I really want other people to experience what I did when I was there. All though I don't have any big memories that stand out, it's the every day activities that I miss...the 400-meter repeats on the track, the long runs on Saturday or Sunday mornings, and yes, even the 5:30am weight lifting sessions...those are the activities that I'll remember forever.
So I had to break this up into two questions...because the second part may seem minor, but my experiences while running at Memphis made a very big impact on my life. I wasn't sure what was going to happen after I left my running career at Memphis. I had no immediate plans to continue running. My focus was on graduate school, but apparently, I couldn't get away. I joined a running group here in Ann Arbor (RunningFit 501) and have been a member for a year and a half now. I trained for my first marathon last year (Detroit Freepress 2007) and have been running and training more than I ever have before. After training through a really tough and really cold winter, I ran my second marathon and just barely missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I am currently two and a half weeks out of my third marathon (Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2008) where I am looking to qualify for Boston. On top of running I've picked up triathlons, and along with four other friends from Ann Arbor will be competing in Ironman Louisville 2009. None of us have done a full ironman before, and although Louisville is a daunting task, I have a great group of people to train with and I'm really looking forward to it.
I picked up a couple of triathlons and duathlons (run, bike, run) this summer. In my second duathlon and racing for the Ann Arbor Triathlon Club, I actually won the Mid-East Regional Championship to become the MERCRS duathlon champion. That was kind of cool...and unexpected. I am a member of the Ann Arbor Tri Club (as well as the RunningFit group), which participates in MERCRS, the Mid-East Regional Championship Racing Series. MERCRS is a USAT (USA Triathlon) sponsored series designed to promote participation in multisport events.
4. So talk about how you balanced all the work for your degree (microbiology and molecular cell science with a concentration in biotechnology?) and your training and student-athlete responsibilities at Memphis.
It's funny actually. When I was at Memphis, I could never have imagined doing more than I was. To this day, I still can't explain how you can do so much. I really think it just comes down to determination. At times I felt like I was just barely keeping my head above the water (and in my first triathlon, I really was just barely keeping my head above water!). For the most part, I don't like to question how it's possible to do something; than hesitation and doubt will make you walk away. Instead, I just do it. Just keep going...no matter what happens. Unless a person is directly involved in a student-athlete's life, I don't think it's possible to understand the hard work and dedication that is required...just to survive, much less to those how succeed with flying colors.
5. Do you still keep in touch with any of your former coaches/teammates or do you follow the Tigers at all up in Michigan?
I actually keep in touch with my old teammates through facebook, and I have talked to Jonas (Holdeman) several times since I left Memphis. I actually called Jonas a couple days after my last marathon because I was so excited. It was the kind of race that he taught me to run...except he taught me to negative split an 800 meter race...the training just translated over time into a marathon. If I'm correct, Jonas is going to be in Chicago for the Chicago Marathon...duties of his current coaching, but it just so happened that I am going to be running the marathon as well. It was kind of funny to learn that we were both going to be in Chicago that weekend when we hadn't talked in a couple of months. What I've learned since I left Memphis is that Jonas just laid the beginnings of the foundation for my running career. When I came up here, I realized that running is a life style, not just a season-long hobby, and it definitely will always be a part of my life.