Friday Focus: Destiny Collins

Destiny Collins ran U.S. No. 1 9:53.79 3200m to win her first California state title last weekend. Tomorrow, she will race the adidas Dream Mile.

The California State Championship is nothing if not dramatic, and Destiny Collins of Great Oak High School was one of the major players this year. After a narrow loss in the 1600m, she returned to the track with a vengeance to win the 3200m with a new U.S. No. 1 time of 9:53.79 and her first state title. 2015 is far from her first brush with drama on the track however - last year, she tragically fell in the 1600m finals and rallied for runner-up honors. The junior took us through her trials on the track and the Trials she has her eyes on this summer.

MileSplit: Congratulations on winning your first state title this weekend with a US #1 time of 9:53 in the 3200m! The win came after a tough loss in the 1600m, when you led nearly the whole race before finishing third in 4:41. Let's start with the 1600m - what did that race mean to you after falling in the finals last year?

Destiny: The race meant a lot to me. I was devastated last year being tripped in the 1600 because I felt I had a really good shot at coming up with the win but I literally fell short so to make it back this year meant a lot to me and I was really hoping to come out on top!

You entered with the top seed and then-US #2 time of 4:40. Did you feel like you were the favorite and how did you handle that pressure?

I felt like I was the slight favorite but I knew the girls in my race weren't going to let me win easy or at all. Being the favorite can have some added pressure and you just have to embrace it or ignore it. This week I tried to embrace it and let it motivate me being that if I had my best race possible that I would have a good chance to come away with the win.

How do you feel about the execution of your race? What was your post-race reaction?

It's hard to race every week perfectly but I tried to execute my plan of running a huge PR. I didn't come through the right splits in laps 2 or 3 so it wasn't the perfect race but I tried to hold on for the win even if it wasn't going to be a PR race. My post race reaction was being a little bummed and sad because I really wanted the win because I led for 1500m and especially after last year's loss in the 1600 with the fall I really wanted to end being the state champion but I couldn't think too much about the loss in 1600 because I had another race left being the 3200 less than 2 hours later. I thought about the race a little bit but I quickly put it behind me.

How did you turn around and regroup for the 3200m, where you would face Fiona O'Keeffe, who ran a solo 10 flat this year?

After the race I did a quick cool down and relaxed. I laid down and ate a little bit of a Subway sandwich because I was hungry and just tried to get mentally focused for the race. I talked to a few of my really good friends who motivated me for my 3200 and I kept reading this quote to myself.

The quote said "You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." - Maya Angelou.

The quote really stood out to me because if I chose to stay defeated in the 1600, I would have had a bad race in the 3200. But instead I decided to see how I can improve for racing the 3200 and ended up finding a way to win my first individual state title. By staying tough in the 3200m I saw something I've never seen before in myself with how determined I can be and I showed myself that it really is all about who has the most heart when it comes down to the last little bit in a race!

What was your mental state like before, during and after the 3200m?

Before the 3200m, at first I was devastated from the 1600 but then I changed my attitude to being motivated. During the race, mentally I just kept telling myself to stay with Fiona O'Keeffe. I kept reminding myself how I didn't want to go home without a state title so I told myself over and over again that I can stay with her and I can race her. After the 3200, I was in complete disbelief that I ran so much under 10 minutes and ran a 9:53.79. I also PR'd by 18 seconds from the week prior so that was a really good race for me.

What does it mean to win a state title in California?

When I crossed the finish line after the 3200, a flood of emotions came but ultimately I was filled with pure happiness. To finally be able to call myself a state champion means a lot to me and I was ecstatic about it! So many amazing runners come through California and not everyone wins so to finally win a state title and join the list of great names, is such a blessing to me and I'm so happy I was finally able to accomplish this!

An unspoken pressure this past weekend was to record a time fast enough to earn the final invitation for the adidas Dream Mile. Did that affect your performance?

Regardless of Dream Mile, every week I wanted to go out there in the 1600 and run fast. Since I wasn't invited to Adidas yet, that pushed me even harder every week to attempt to run as fast as I can and hopefully receive the invite.

Even though you placed third in the 1600m, you still earned the final invitation. How did you feel when you found out?

I was so glad when I found out I made it to the Dream Mile. It's such a great race and event that they put on and I'm so happy to be apart of that this year. I was really close last year so to finally attend this year is a really great feeling!

What does the adidas Dream Mile mean and why is the entire country so excited about it?

The Dream Mile means a lot to me because I have the chance to race against some of the best girls in the country in the mile! With so many amazing girls being from different states it's hard to race them throughout the season but thanks to Dream Mile we get to race each other head to head and see how we stack up against each other and I'm very excited about this opportunity! I think the country is excited about it and they should be because they get to witness and see some of the best high schoolers run the mile and 100 and also get to see the professionals run.

What are your goals for adidas Dream Mile and Brooks PR?

My goals for Dream Mile and Brooks PR is to race to the best of my ability and PR at both meets.

Are you planning to race the World Junior Trials this summer in Illinois? What would it mean to make a world championship team?

I am going to the World Youth Trials this summer in Illinois. This is my first time attempting to make a championship team so if I make it, that would be be amazing and it would mean a lot to me. I'm sure I don't only speak for myself but to represent our country with the USA on my chest would be such an honor and blessing and so I'm hoping I have a great race in Illinois and make the championship team!

Describe a typical training week.

Monday: 11 mile long run in the morning and 1 HIT and 12x endurance Hills or hill sprints
Tuesday: 4 miles in the morning and speed workout in the afternoon for example 5x1000s and a 2 mile cool down
Wednesday: 7 miles in the morning and 1 HIT and 8 miles in the afternoon
Thursday: 4 miles in the morning and another speed workout in the afternoon for example 12x400s w/ 3 hammers and a 2 mile cool down
Friday: 4 miles in the morning and 1 HIT and 5 miles in the afternoon
Saturday: Race and 3+ mile cool down depending on how many races I competed in
Sunday: Rest
(60 mile week in beginning/ mid season, every week isn't the same but this is what the majority of my training weeks looked like)

What is the hardest workout you've ever done?

The hardest workout I've ever done is 3x7,7,7s (7 mins 70%, 7 mins 85%, 7 mins 88+% with 5 minute rest in between) This is a tough workout because if you go to fast on the first 2 7s of the repeat you won't have the fast last 7 minute repeat that you need. It's also hard because we do this in cross country and the weather can be warm outside which makes it even harder but afterwards you feel dead and accomplished, and we have either chocolate milk or Gatorade waiting for us after the workout thanks to our amazing Team Parents which makes the day and workout a little better.

You are known for taking things out FAST! You have raced super fast all track season and even took out a XC race with a 5:04 mile! Can you tell us about your racing style and what inspires you to go out hard?

I think racing against Sarah Baxter when I was younger inspired me to go out fast. We run a lot of quality miles at Great Oak and so we are very fit. Since we are so fit, we like to take it out hard and rely on our fitness in the end of races. I like to go out fast because usually I have a little bit of nerves but more over a lot of excitement and that contributes also to my fast start. Moreover, I don't like the feeling of being boxed in and I want the race to be an honest race and not a tactical race that's all about the kick being some of the reasons why I like to go out fast.

You run for Doug Soles at the legendary Great Oak High School. What does it feel like to compete for the Great Oak program? Can you describe the team dynamic?

It feels great to be able to run for the Great Oak High School Cross Country Team and Track and Field program at my school. I came into the school and they were already starting to climb the ranks and starting to be known as a powerhouse team! I'm so happy to contribute to more of our teams success and I'm so happy to be on such a deep team that pushes me everyday and are just great people to be around. I can't stress enough the depth we have on our team which is so important in cross country. The depth we have allows the Top 7-10 sometimes more to rest out certain meets that our crucial to our success at the end of the season and it's amazing to be around so many focused girls day in and day out. Team is all we stress in cross country and even in track. When we are out there racing we are constantly being reminded by our coach and by ourselves that we aren't racing for our own goals and self pleasure but for our teammates. We are out there to race for them and to love them and to just lay it all out there on the line for them because they are going to do the same and if we all do that, then we can be unstoppable.

Can you describe Coach Soles' coaching style?

Coach Soles coaching style is different than some high school cross country coaches. All he wants for us is to grow as great people and great athletes. He focuses our training based on the goals we set, and he does everything in his power to prepare us for what we want to accomplish. He's very understanding and he's very goal driven. He knows when to push and us and he knows when to lay off and get us ready for the key races and he's just an amazing coach!

What do you and your teammates do for team bonding? Do you have any funny stories you can share?

When bonding with my teammates, we just hang out and usually go out somewhere and get food and just talk about things, doing the average teenager things. My teammates Desi, Taylor, Maiya and I love to go out and eat Rubios and donuts. Not together though! I went out to this ice cream place on Monday and we ate donut ice cream sandwiches and I must admit they were pretty amazing!

What is your most embarrassing athletics-related moment?

I don't think I have an embarrassing athletic-related moment but the only things I can think of is being tripped at state and one time during an interview I said was a senior when I was actually a sopohmore!

What is your athletic background and how/when did you start running?

Before running I tried a bunch of different sports like basketball, volleyball, golf, and even softball which didn't go well at all. I got hit in the face and never tried that again. But for the most part I considered myself a basketball player and I was positive that's what I was going to be coming into high school. I was introduced into running the day I promoted to the 9th grade. The cross country girls brought me a cross country shirt and insisted I join the team. I was skeptical but my mom insisted I try the sport and see if I like it. I didn't want to run because I thought I would be crazy to run for fun.... I still do consider myself crazy to run for fun but then again it is very fun and the people I have met in this sport make it so much more enjoyable.

Describe a perfect day in the life of Destiny Collins.

A perfect day in the life of Destiny Collins would be going for a nice run on a cool day and then finishing the run getting donuts. I would then hangout with my friends and watch some fun movie and then end the day with night swimming and more fun hanging out eating food and maybe making S'mores.

It's well-known in the running community (or maybe just the Twittersphere) that you love donuts. When did the donut obsession begin? What is your favorite kind and from where?

I have always liked donuts but for some reason the obsession grew my sophomore year. My favorite kind of donut would be a glazed donut from Krispy Kreme but if it's not from KK, then I would want a chocolate donut!

Do you spell it 'donut' or 'doughnut'?

I believe it's spelled donut and not doughnut. Doughnut looks odd to me and it's too complicated. DONUT ALL THE WAY(:

You are very active on Twitter and interact with a lot of elite runners all over the country. How do you feel that social media helps improve the sport?

I feel social media improves the sport because you have the chance to talk with your competitors and other athletes. For some of the other athletes, if they live many miles away from you, social media gives you the chance to get to know them a little bit and meet them before you actually meet them in person. I have talked to some of the girls through social media and met some of them in person so for some of the girls going to Adidas and Brooks PR, I already feel like a I have a friend when I get there because of social media which is really nice!

When are you going to change your Twitter bio? ;)

I have been asked by quite a few people when I'm going to change my Twitter bio! Haha(: but I haven't thought of anything cute and clever to change it to so it's still the same. I will change it when I come up with something but its hard coming up with a catchy bio. It took me awhile to come up with my bio now but a new one is coming soon! Just wait on it(:

What is something that most people don't know about you?

Something most people don't know about me is that despite being from California, I don't really like the beach that much. I'll go with my friends but I hate going in the water because of the seaweed, I hate it when it touches me. Also the water isn't clear and who knows there can be a shark. Once I went into the cove and it was freezing cold and then I looked down and there was a bunch of tiny jellyfish surrounding us. I screamed and ran out of that cove so fast because I didn't want to get stung, it was crazy. So yeah I don't like swimming at the beach and going that much but if I do go beach volleyball is a must beside it's very very fun!


Pre-race pump-up song: I actually don't listen to music before my races because I'm always with my teammates and so I warm up with them and talk to them while getting ready for the race!

Guilty pleasure food: SWEETS! I love my donuts and ice cream!

Favorite movie: Tangled

Favorite book: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and why? Beyoncé because she is perfect and a great singer, Allyson Felix because she is so fast and just seems like an amazing person to be around, and whoever the person is that created the first Krispy Kreme donut! I would so have tell me how to make the perfect donut! (: