June 7, 2013
UAB distance runner Rhiannon Johns completed what has been a stellar career on the track Wednesday with her 12th place and All-America showing in the 10,000 meter run at the NCAA Championships. Johns, a Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native who has shined in the classroom in addition to her numerous honors athletically, will continue at UAB next year in graduate school.
This summer, she will compete at the Canadian Nationals before running for her home country at the World University Games in Russia.
After her NCAA performance Wednesday in Eugene, Ore., Johns spent a few minutes reflecting on her final race as a Blazer and her career at UAB as a whole.
How would you assess your performance overall in Wednesday's race?
"I'm happy with my performance in this race. I always set high goals for myself, so while I would've liked to place higher and score points, Wednesday was by far my best showing at a national championship and I have to be happy with that."
Did the race unfold the way you anticipated? Were there surprises?
"The first two laps of the race were shockingly slow, and everyone was really bunched together for it. Other than that though, it was an "honest" race (with everyone running fast). It can be hard to predict what's going to happen in a 10k because it's such a long race and there are a lot of different factors for people to consider, (runners doubling races, the heat, runners' personal strengths, etc). I didn't really expect anything in particular, other than a tough race.
Did you have a specific strategy that you wanted to use? If so, how did that play out?
"As I mentioned, it can be difficult to predict a 10k, so my strategy was mostly to react to what I saw playing out around me. The best "strategy" you can have in a 10k is to simply believe you're capable of covering moves that anyone else makes.
Would you try anything differently now that the race has been completed?
"I can for sure think of things that I would've done differently now that this race is over, but the same can be said of any race I've ever run. Even on my best day, there are ways that could be better. Every race is a chance to learn about yourself, your competitors, and the race itself.
"From an outside perspective, it may seem that distance running is simple, but there is so much that goes in to the execution of a race that there is always something to analyze and improve. I think that in a race like this where I was racing the best in the country, is not only an honor to compete in, but is a great chance to learn and improve.
What feelings do you have now that you have finished your career at UAB? And as one of the best in school history?
"This one is hard...
"It's weird to be called one of the best in school history, because it was never really something that was on my radar. For the past five years, the goal has been to improve, and be better than I was the day before. When everything is so methodical, so day-to-day, so step-by-step and incremental, it really becomes more about internal goals than external ones. I never set out with goals to "have x school records" or "run faster than someone else", it was always "I want to run faster than I did last week", or "I want to score more points at Conference than I did last year".
"If you do that enough times, good things start to happen and a byproduct of your own improvement, and it becomes more about your own growth as an athlete rather than benchmarking yourself against someone else. I think that's important, too, because you can never control what someone else does, but you ultimately always have control over yourself and how you're working to improve on what you did before.
"Of course, as nice as it is to have school records and this recognition, I absolutely hope someone comes in an outdoes what I've done. UAB Track and Field is on the upswing and there are many great things to come.
How do you feel in general about your experience at UAB?
"I cannot speak highly enough of my experience of being part of NCAA Track and field, and as a student-athlete at UAB. The opportunities and experience I've had were incredible, and have created lasting memories that I'll carry with me for a long time. I have had a tremendous five years, and much of that is attributed to the personnel that make up UAB Athletics. Everything that I've done, is a testament to the support I've received from coaches, trainers, and the entire UAB Athletics family. As student-athletes, incredible hard work is rewarded with incredible experiences.
"Having my collegiate career come to a close is in many ways very sad, but also exciting. I'm thrilled to keep working with Tony Houchin as my coach (while staying at UAB as a grad student) and making the move to post-collegiate running. There is much yet to come, many races to compete in, and miles upon miles to run.
"Being an NCAA athlete is, hands down, the most prevalent and worthwhile experience I've ever had."