After qualifying for the 800m final at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Flotrack asked me an important question, “Who is Lauren Wallace?”. The question caught me off guard, as it had never occurred to me that most people in the small world of track and field do not know my story or where I come from. Upon further reflection, I was also struck by the realization that I needed to find a way to make myself relevant! Flotrack’s questions involves anything but a short answer and has therefore influenced me to start a blog, following my new journey as a professional runner.
Every runner has a beginning. I was born into the running world in Ukiah, a small, quaint town that is nestled in the hills of Mendocino County. My high school coach, Dan Jurado, got me hooked on running fast and sprinting quickly piqued my interest. I continued sprinting through my first year of college at UC Davis, focusing primarily on the 200m and 400m distances. Needless to say, I was not as competitive as I wanted to be. It took little convincing from my coach at the time, Deanne Vochatzer, for me to move up in distance to the 800m. I ran my first 800m at the Dempsey Indoor facility in Seattle, WA (shout out; Oiselle home turf) in 2 minutes and 17 seconds, and despite the time not being great, I fell in love. From there, my story gets a little rocky, as I progressed in fits and starts while battling a stress fracture in my fibula. I battled everything from injury, to a coaching switch, as well as personal hiccups outside the realm of running.
Despite all the uphill battles I encountered, there were those along the way who helped keep my head above water and encouraged me to better myself further as an athlete. My new coach, Drew Wartenburg, represents one of those fundamental people. I redshirted my fourth year at UCD and that experience opened my eyes, though only slightly in retrospect, to the world of running outside of my small-town mentality. My redshirt year unlocked doors I previously had never possessed a key for, and with the help of Drew, that fourth year laid down the framework for my final seasons at UCD.
2013, my final year at UCD, has been the most exciting to date, both personally and athletically. I am now a college graduate and have degrees in two areas I am extremely passionate about. On the track, the UCD women captured the Big West Championship title for the second year in a row. Personally, I set and then achieved lofty goals and was pleased to finish the season with new personal records, a Big West Conference individual title, first team All-American honors, and a spot on the line at the USA National Championships for the first time. It is difficult to put in to words how grateful I am for my teammates, family, and coaches’ support; I would not have made it this far without them.
I can not imagine a better scenario for my collegiate career to come to a close; but on a larger scale, for my professional career to start. A new chapter of transition to life as a professional runner is beginning, and I could not be more excited for what the future holds. My time as an Aggie has ended and I have found a sisterhood that has taken me under their wing(pun intended). As a professional, it is now my turn to make a name for myself. With the women of Oiselle, that is exactly what I intend to do.