I attended the 2001 Roy Griak Invitational with false hopes in meeting (my future husband)/man of mystery Alan Webb. I was very excited knowing that the Michigan guys would be running and planned the perfect moment to sweep Alan off his feet once he was about a mile into the cool down*. However, he decided to opt out of racing that day which proved to be a grave mistake because our love at first sight was then postponed until 5.5 years later. Instead a got a glimpse of his teammate Mark Pilja and was filled with a disappointment I couldn’t explain for years**.
*fabrication (in all honesty I had really looked forward to possibly seeing him)
While attending University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, I had the privilege to race here 5 times (once during a redshirt season). The tough course filled with hills, windy turns and midwest weather made it always challenging which resulted in some big successes and marginal disappointments. I had always hoped for a big one as our D3 team got to step up and compete in the D2 competition.
My most memorable race was in 2005 as I was able to move up from the pack to the lead just past the mile and pull away to my first Griak setting the maroon race course record of 21:56. The La Crosse women dominated with a big win by 81 points over 23 other teams. If we could have duplicated this race, we could have been NCAA team champs (ended up 4th).
Julia’s Roy Griak Invitation history-
’01 – 45th (maroon) 5K in 19:15.1 (5th for team, top 50 was a big deal to me!)
’02- 5th (maroon) 5K -18:27.6 (1st for team)
’03- 11th (maroon) 5K – 18:54 (was looking to win; not happy with that one)
’04- 46th (gold) 6K – 22:23 (unattached- first race of the year; hoping for top 25 and feeling much more fit than this result)
’05- 1st (maroon) 6K – 21:56 (success! although the time would have been 30th in gold race which definitely didn’t sit well with me; gold winner Amy Hastings in 20:57)
**True story – I’ll never forget the weird thought that crossed my mind as I was watching the Olympic Trials 2004 on TV with my family in Oshkosh, WI. I had never had some secret crush on Alan or anything like that, but had always followed his career. The thought that “someday he would be really important in my life” flashed through my mind and caught me by surprise (which is why I remembered it and thinking that was strange). It kind of creeps me out to think about but I’m not making that up. A couple months after we had met which was years later, I revisited that moment and it blew my mind.