University of Colorado at Colorado Spring’s Shannon Payne ended the 2008 Cross Country season on a high note, finishing third at the 2008 DII Cross Country Championships at Slippery Rock, PA. She has begun her indoor season on the same note. She ran a 5k time of 17:06.8 at the CSM Open at Steinhauer Fieldhouse, which automatically qualifies her for the 2009 Indoor National Championships..
Payne has not always been so fast. In fact, her high school career started rather slow, as she explains, “My first 5k XC time trial took me 32 minutes and change and I barely scraped a spot on the J.V. team. And I walked twice. For the better part of my first XC season I was the one who was so far behind the whole race that people didn’t know I was in the race. In track I barely broke 7 minutes in the mile that first year. I got lapped a lot, even in the mile—definitely got the pity clap a few times.” Undeterred, she continued to train. “I enjoyed [running] so much that I just kept doing it every day, even in the off-season by myself” she states. By enjoying running and working hard, she made varsity her sophomore season. By her senior season, she won regionals and came in 19th in at the Colorado state cross country championship. At t his meet, she established a P.R. that was about fourteen minutes faster than her first 5k. “I guess the moral of story is that there is hope for all of us,” she ends.
Going into college, all she knew was that she wanted to continue running. “I knew absolutely nothing about college running, I was just hoping some team would at least let me be a walk-on,” she explains. Besides that, she knew she wanted to attend a college with small student body and a good academic reputation, and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was the right fit. She has really enjoyed her time running cross country there. She explains, “I really feel like XC is much more strength than speed-based, which is how I run. Also, I really like how it is both [an] individual and team [sport]. If everyone does what they need to do to succeed as an individual, then you will succeed as a team as long as the goals and team chemistry are there.” She continues, “You go to these big races and there are couple hundred people in the field and everyone’s got a different story, a different history, and everyone’s had their obstacles. But when it comes down to race-day everyone is there to compete, and running can mean just as much to the 250th place finisher as it does to the winner. It’s so cool to just see that sort of unspoken understanding and respect amongst competitors and it makes for an awesome atmosphere to get to be part of.”
Heading into this cross country season, she had some pretty high goals, “I wanted to win
conference and have a top-2 team finish, then [to] win Regional[s] and have at least a top-3 team finish en route to Nationals.” At Nationals, she was aiming for the individual title, as well as hoping to help her team to a top- ten team finish. She ended up expanding on these goals as the season developed. She states, “Doing the training is a huge part of succeeding as an athlete obviously, but running can be a really fickle sport and you can only control so many factor[s].” She continues, “Coach is always telling us that the only things you can really control are you attitude and your effort, so through the season I kept my initial goals in mind, but I put a lot more emphasis on the little things I needed to do in addition to training to make those things happen like recovering well, trusting the training, eating and sleeping, and just trying to keep a
good perspective on everything.”
Payne achieved many of these goals this past season, including coming from behind to duel it out with Shippensburg’s Neely Spence at the National meet. “As the race developed, the front pack seemed like it really separated itself and spread out pretty quickly. Heather(Wood) and I kind of worked off of each other for a good part of the race and passed a few people, then duking it out with Neely the rest of the way really helped pull me through to the finish and kept me from ever settling,” she said. Payne finished third behind Spence.
Payne will graduate this coming spring, and still has eligibility left for the indoor season. “I still have a few more class credits to get out of the way and one more season of indoor left. For the short term though I get to run at U.S. Cross in February, which I am really excited about. When my eligibility is up, I definitely plan on pursuing post-collegiate running” she ends.
Updated on May 7, 2013, 8:13pm