Hatton in the Mile at the New Balance Grand Prix. (Photo by Peter Rufo)
Welcome to Track Chats 2012! We continue with relative unknown distance sensation Cayla Hatton from Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts. Cayla finished 2nd indoors in the New Balance Grand Prix mile with a time of 4:51.37 and was 13th in the Senior 8k at the USA XC Champs with a time of 28:26.60. More recently Cayla ran 33:17.28 for 10k, US#2 All-Time and the fastest by a 17 year old athlete ever! Read on to learn even more about this incredible young woman.
MileSplit - Repeat after me, 33:17.28. Got that?… What is going through your mind after such a phenomenal time this early in the outdoor season?
Cayla - I’m thrilled but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet how fast that is. I went into the season hoping to make an Olympic Trial B Cut, but I had no expectations of coming close this early in the season. I wasn’t even really considering the 10k until my coach suggested it. I guess now I’m just trying to stay focused and set new goals for myself so I can keep improving throughout the season ahead.
MileSplit - When & how did you get started in track & field?
Cayla - The first real meets I did were the Hershey’s series. I ran the 400 at Nationals one year, but I wasn’t serious about running at all. I was a swimmer throughout middle school and a soccer player until my injuries sophomore year―I didn’t decide to specialize in running until this year, really.
MileSplit - Who has been the most influential to your success in track & field?
Cayla - My physical therapist from last year, Peg Grey. I was ready to give up after a year of injury. A hip specialist in Boston told me I probably wouldn’t be able to run competitively again, but Peg would have none of that. She worked hours and hours every week with me for months. After my cross-country season, she told me I was her hero. But she is mine!
MileSplit - Your favorite track & field event(s)?
Cayla - I liked the 1500m best freshman year, but after two years of injury and coming back to the cross country season, I’m really not sure. I liked the 10k, but I still haven’t ever tried a 5k on the track, and I think I’ll like that even better when I do. And, who knows? I still may end up liking the 1500m the best. I’ll be running a lot of shorter distances with my school team throughout the spring.
MileSplit - What have your coach(es) meant to you?
Cayla - I started off with Gino Caro when I was in fifth grade (I think). I was running the Hershey Meets at the time, and he worked on speed and drills with me a few times a week. More than anything Gino taught me to love the sport: he cared much more about my experiences rather than my performances, and never put pressure on me too young. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a bad mood, so practice with him was always fun.
Right now I work with Joe McConkey out of the Boston Running Center. I’m pretty sure he knows everything. He pushes me hard during workouts, but also reigns me in when I get overzealous. He is very composed, which really helps because it is sometimes overwhelming to try to balance my life and school and my running career.
MileSplit - Keys to your successful track & field training program?
Cayla - Under Joe, I’ve learned to listen to my body. I think I’ve been improving because I now know the importance of easy days and rest days. Joe has also worked with me a lot on stretching and drills, and I’m sure my improved flexibility and form are helping my performance, too.
Also, I know it sounds sappy, but definitely my parents. They’ll do anything to help me out―my mom drives two hours from home to bring me to track workouts with Joe, and both my mom and dad bike ride on my long runs to keep me company. They balance me out really well, too. My mom is really lighthearted about running, so she always makes sure I’m always having fun, and my dad is very rational, so he helps me make healthy decisions.
MileSplit - Your favorite track & field meet?
Cayla - The 2010 Junior Nationals. I barely made the 1500m cut that year and the prelim race was nothing special, but the overall experience was amazing. I remember warming up next to Jordan Hasay, and thinking, “Oh my god, I’m ten feet from a celebrity.” The USA Championships were going on simultaneously, and I was just so inspired. I got Kara Goucher’s signature, too, which I still have hanging on my wall! I hope I’ll have the opportunity to return to Hayward Field this year.
MileSplit - Your favorite performance in track & field?
Cayla - Back in seventh grade, I ran for a high school team, so I competed in the NEPSAC Div III championships. On the start line of the 1500, a girl stepped on my left spike and it came off. I ran the race without it, and since it was so hot out, the bottom of my foot blistered and peeled off. I remember just feeling like such a champ for finishing. And after I won, some of the high schoolers started calling me “prodigy.” As a seventh-grader, that was the coolest thing on earth.
MileSplit - Track & field athlete(s) you most enjoy competing against?
Cayla - I loved running against Katrina Coogan my freshman year. She runs for Georgetown now, and went to my rival school (Phillips Exeter) before then. I lost to her every time, but the races were always close and exciting. Hopefully I will see her again in college!
MileSplit - Your greatest experience in track & field so far?
Cayla - Probably the 8k this past February in St. Louis. It was certainly my most difficult race mentally. It was so cold and windy, and the longest race I had done before it was a 6k. Performing so well against the elites boosted my confidence going into the spring, but also showed me there is a lot of work ahead of me.
MileSplit - Goals for the 2012 track & field season?
Cayla - My main goal now is to make the Trials cut in the 5k. Also, since my school meets only have the 800, 1500, and 3k, I am going to try to set the school records in all of those.
MileSplit - Long-term goals in track & field?
Cayla - The Olympics!
The Fun Run
Do you like ice cream or italian ice…
Cayla - Does anyone actually like Italian ice more than ice cream?
Do you like shorts or jeans…
Cayla - Shorts
Do you like Boggle or Twister…
Cayla - Boggle, ‘cause I always beat my brother at it.
Do you like Facebook or Twitter...
Cayla - Facebook
Do you like going out or chilling at home...
Cayla - Definitely chilling at home.
Do you like sun or snow...
Cayla - Sun!
Video of Cayla's record-setting 10000m run