Last Thursday New Jersey's two time defending cross country Meet of Champions winner Alyssa Aldridge announced her commitment to Georgetown University. Here is the phone interview where we discussed the college news and touched upon an unfortunate summer injury as well.
The state champ had a boot on to help heal a bone bruise from late July to early September and has yet to open her 2017 season. She is back to running, looking toward her eventual debut and ultimate goal of state championships.
NJ MileSplit: First off congratulations on the college decision! What made Georgetown stand out?
Alyssa Aldridge: So I was originally drawn to Georgetown by location, I'm in love with Washington, D.C. so the feel of having an amazing academic and athletic school there really excited me. When I met with Coach Culley and Coach Palmer I just instantly loved them as coaches and believed in what they were doing with the program. That led me to take an official. And on my official I really liked the women on the team, and everyone was just really excited about running, was really into working hard and really had the same morals as I did so everything just kind of came together and clicked. I just kind of knew it was the one for me.
NJM: Well rounded decision making there, so the environment came into it, the coaches, the team.. I've also heard you are very successful academically as well. How much of a decision did that play into going to Georgetown?
A: It played a huge role in my whole recruiting process. I initially knew I didn't want to lose focus from what college was for so I didn't really entertain any schools that weren't academically acclaimed, I guess you could say. So when it came together Georgetown is very well known for their academics. I also want to be a business major so it's in an area where internships are totally possible.
NJM: That is a big part making sure you are going to have experience to work with when it's all said and done. Where else did you take your officials at?
A: I officially visited at Notre Dame and Michigan, and I had one setup for UVA that I ended up cancelling.
NJM: So I've also heard about some unfortunate injury news, could you tell us a little about that?
A: Yeah, so I hurt my ankle (bone bruise) at the end of July and started limited running mid-September and I feel great now. But it was definitely a setback and something I will have to combat mentally, and obviously physically. So I'm just doing everything I can to stay in shape but it's going to be a definite challenge this season.
NJM: Well at least if you are able to pull off the shorter season you'll be well rested compared to everyone else. So in terms of working to stay in shape, assuming with your background and where you came from, the pool has been pretty important?
A: Yeah I spent so much time in the pool and a lot of it wouldn't have been possible without our community. Because our high school pool, which is the pool I usually utilize, actually closed for two weeks during maintenance right in the middle of when I needed to be in there. Mr. Shaughnessy, the Aquatic Director at Mainland, allowed me to come in while the pool was closed and the local recreational pool director Mr. Meade also let me come in when they were closed and workout. So without them I don't know how we would have made this possible. I spent more time that I would have liked to in the pool (chuckles), but hopefully it will pay off.
NJM: Oh I'm sure. Did coming from a swimming competition background at least make it a little easier in terms of knowing workouts and how to push yourself in the water?
A: Yeah I definitely knew some workouts, and I swim on my local team during the summer so I was coming straight from that. I had some remnants of information from sets that were really challenging. That kind of helped me because writing sets for yourself is difficult, but that background helped me get my cardio going.
NJM: Are there any doctors that you were working with that you would like to mention? I know those are extremely important on the road to recovery.
A: Yeah we've been going up to Dr. Connors and Dr. Trotter up in Little Silver, their Podiatrists. They've been so helpful and so reassuring that everything was going to be fine. Without them I don't know what would have happened. I'm very thankful we were recommended to go up to them and they were so willing to help us out and do everything they can for me.
NJM: So I heard it was a bone bruise, was it something very sudden that you felt in July or was it something that was creeping up on you?
A: It kind of happened suddenly but I think it was happening over time I just never really felt it. I think most runners just kind of have a really high pain tolerance so even if it was there I just might not have noticed it, just thought it was a different ache. Then one morning it hurt really badly and I just stopped immediately thank goodness or I don't know how bad it could have gotten.
NJM: Yeah especially being distance runners we kind of develop almost too tough of a mindset and we can turn into our own worst enemies sometimes in terms of injuries. Looking forward to the season I'm assuming October may be too early for us to see you start racing?
A: We're not quite sure yet, we figured I would be going on more officials since it was kind of unexpected that I committed so early. So now we are toying around with ideas but it's definitely going to come down to when I'm feeling comfortable and getting my speedwork in, I guess however the timeline unfolds is when it will happen. But hopefully I'll be ready for Sectionals (November 4th) that's the ultimate goal.
Interview with Aldridge after her 2016 MOCs victory, her second straight.
NJM: It stinks not to have that summer training in but at least for your level of talent you're also looking toward regionals and nationals. So at least the timelines for those meets you have a little more room to work with.
A: Yeah that's probably the only upside to this, is that hopefully I'll be a little more fresh coming in. But its just a matter of how much training we can get in these next couple months.
NJM: Last question. You are the two time defending Meet of Champions winner. If you are able to come back strong for state season, since this season is already out of the norm for you, is this making that even more of a goal than usual?
A: Yeah this is my first injury ever so it was kind of like a shock to me, but it's definitely making me very hungry for more. I'm just kind of sitting back and watching my teammates excel right now and race, it just makes me all that more excited to get back out there for Meet of Champs. And if I can pull it off it would be amazing, but it would be extremely difficult even if I had all the summer training just due to the amount of talent New Jersey runners have. Coming off of this it's going to be a challenge, I'm looking forward to it. It is going to be interesting; this is definitely a change of pace from the last few seasons.