Even though she qualified in January, Allie Ostrander of Kenai was unsure whether she’d participate in the upcoming U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials.
That’s because Ostrander, a freshman phenom at Boise State University, only recently overcame a stress fracture that sidelined her for the collegiate outdoor track season.
“I just wanted to make sure I was prepared to run against that level of competition and not have it set me back for the (college) cross country season,” Ostrander said Thursday by phone from Boise, Idaho.
Ostrander, 19, has only been running steadily for four weeks now, but several strong recent workouts confirmed she’s ready for the women’s 5,000 meter semifinals on July 7 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. She made the decision with coach Corey Ihmels.
“I’m so thankful to be running again,” Ostrander said.
Ostrander is the only collegian in the 24-runner field, and her qualifying time of 15 minutes, 21.85 seconds ranks 12th.
The top 16 runners in the semifinals advance to the 5,000-meter finals on July 10. Only the first three qualify for the Summer Olympics in Brazil this August.
Ostrander goes into the Trials with no expectations. “I have no time or place in mind,” she said.
After a magical summer and fall of 2015 that saw her finish second at Mount Marathon (while breaking Nancy Pease’s iconic record), win the World Junior Mountains Running Championships in Wales and place second at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, Ostrander experienced adversity during Boise State’s indoor track season this past winter. She initially felt knee pain but it was misdiagnosed as tendonitis so she kept training. The symptoms worsened and when Ostrander finally got an x-ray she learned of an anterior tibial stress fracture that was six weeks old.
Ostrander’s indoor track season included her Olympic Trials qualifying run on Jan. 29 at the University of Washington Invitational. But her season ended in disappointment when she stepped off the track March 11 during the 5,000-meter national championship race and did not finish. She also was unable to start the 3,000-meter final.
To heal, Ostrander needed five weeks until she could run without taking walk breaks. In all, she missed about two months of quality training.
The cause of the overuse injury?
“I was getting a little bit greedy building up a little too fast,” Ostrander said.
But now Ostrander is healthy and making big gains in fitness every week. Though she’d prefer to have more preparation time, she is grateful for the opportunity to run the Trials.
“I am so excited. It will be an awesome experience no matter where I finish,” Ostrander said.
However, Ostrander is bummed the Trials conflict with the Mount Marathon Race on July 4. She’ll have to skip Mount Marathon but plans to race there again in 2017. She won the junior event six straight years before recording a dynamic senior women’s debut in 2015.
After the Olympic Trials, Ostrander will return to Alaska for a lengthy visit. “I’m just itching to go on a lot of hiking trips,” she said.
On July 29, Ostrander will receive a Pride of Alaska Award at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame’s 10-Year Celebration for the second straight year.
– By Matias Saari, ASHOF Blog Contributor