After All-Time Efforts, Roisin Willis Is Still Thinking Big

Training in negative-10 degree weather hasn't stopped Roisin Willis from training or working toward her goals. 

Because over the next two weeks, she has big plans.

This weekend, she has plans on going after a personal record 1K performance at The MisFits Invitational in Chicago. Then, her attentions will turn to the Texas Qualifier in Austin, Texas, where she will look to earn a U.S. Olympic Trials standard in the 800m during the last week of February. 

But rewinding to last month, Willis remains reflective. Weeks leading up to the VA Showcase, she remembered being nervous -- to the point in which she was shaking. She hadn't raced in nine months and was about to open up her first indoor 800m race against the nation's best.

Right before her first race of the year, though, no one could tell she was nervous. She wore a look of calm and poise in the bullpen area.

As Willis approached the starting line of her first race, she knew her training had prepared her.

At the break, as the front pack took to the lead, Willis had a gut feeling she was about to be boxed in. So she decreased in speed -- almost to an abrupt stop -- to make sure that she wouldn't trip up the rest of the field.

Despite not starting the race how she wanted, she finished third with a 2:04.31. 

Willis thought the rust officially came off.

The following day, Willis lined up with the same front runners as teammates and broke the U20 World record in the 4x800m in 8:37.20. 

As the weeks went by, Willis returned to the Virginia Beach Sports Center for the 757 Showdown. Only this time, she lined up against Sophia Gorriaran and other Under Armour professional athletes in the 600m. 

Willis' race strategy was to "win the cut" by all means.

She didn't want a repeat of the VA Showcase.

For the three-lap race, Willis get out aggressively, as she typically does.

This led her to start the first 200m in 26 high. But as the field approached the 400 meter mark, Gorriaran started to make her move. Gorriaran came off the turn and it was a battle down the homestretch. The Rhode Islander finished strong to win the event in 1:27.02, though Willis was just inches behind her with a 1:27.20. 

The girls finished No. 3 and No. 5 all-time in this event.