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Track star Mickle '13 breaks 30-year school record

The women's track team had an incredible weekend at the Stanford Invite in Palo Alto last Friday. That night, Olivia Mickle '13, who hails from Sacramento, Calif., ran the 10,000 meter in 33.59 minutes, breaking the Brown record by more than 40 seconds. For her record-setting performance and her likely selection for regionals, The Herald has named Mickle Athlete of the Week.


The Herald: What was your first feeling while you were crossing the finish line?

Mickle: I was somewhat shocked. I actually had no idea what kind of time I was going to run. And then I felt extremely happy. It was just nice to finally have success. I immediately ran over to my parents and hugged my dad. I was just smiling so huge. It was an incredible moment. Being able to have that success and being able to run in front of my parents was really meaningful. Also, for the Brown women's distance team to kind of show that we can be competitive even against this top level teams. It was a great moment.


Did you realize at the time that you were beating the school record?

I had no idea. People actually had to tell me. My team members who were cheering me on were like, "Olivia, you just broke the record!" I did not know that I was going to stand in the Top 10 list later. ... It was overwhelming but really incredible.


How do you manage school and racing?

It took me until the end of my freshman year to figure out how to balance everything. And it is a constant struggle, but I think you need to be just really efficient with your time and not procrastinating on certain projects when you know you are going to be gone for three days for a track meet. But it definitely takes a lot of time to figure out how to juggle running, social life and school. I am still trying to figure it out, but I think I have a better grasp on it as a junior, thankfully. I think that it is really important that you enjoy the time you spend doing that sport because it is a whole lot of time and effort and energy to spend on something if you don't actually enjoy it. 


Did you get a fellowship to come and study at Brown?

Yes, I was recruited. However, unfortunately on freshman year I was injured pretty much all year so I never really had the chance to compete. Just being able to compete right now is a blessing, and I am really grateful for being injury-free right now.


What happened?

Freshman year I experienced two different stress fractures. It is a fracture in your bone due to excessive use or improper usage. My first one was in my shin, and my second one was in my femoral neck. It takes a long time to heal.


When did you start running?

I actually played competitive soccer all my life up until my junior year in high school. I loved it, I never stopped loving it. One of my strengths as a soccer player is that I can run all day, and I loved it. My dad is actually a long distance runner, my mom also ran, so it was kind of in my blood. I did cross country junior year of high school. I really enjoyed it. I decided that I was going to stop playing soccer and start focusing on running my senior sear. Senior year in high school, I did cross country and my first season of track, and that is when I knew this is something I love. So it was not until senior year of high school that I started getting involved in running.


What is your concentration?

I am studying biochemical engineering. It is challenging but I really enjoy it. I am specifically interested in biotechnology in pharmaceuticals within the biochem engineering world.


Are you planning on making your track training a career or are you planning to work in biochemical engineering?

I have never thought of running professionally. I don't know if it is possible. I really love running, so I definitely do not plan on stopping, and I think because I was injured freshman year I do have a track season of eligibility, so one option could be to run a fifth year at Grad School. However, I also have some internships this summer for a biotech company, and I think that experience will help me figure it out whether this is something I want to have as a future career.


What do you love about running?

It is kind of like yoga in some sense for me. Not only does it make my body feel good, but I feel like it release all the stress from the day. It is just a time to do something I love, and endorphins obviously always helps. It always puts me in a good mood.


Do you have to follow a specific diet?

One thing in particular is iron. Specifically for female distance runners. I personally have had issues with it. I became anemic maybe two or three times. After the third time I definitely realized that this is something I have to focus on. So that is why the most crucial part of my day is making sure I am taking my iron supplements.


You just broke the school record. What is your new goal for future races?

Definitely staying healthy and injury-free is a huge goal of mine. And, to be honest, my goal was to qualify for regionals, and the time I raced this past weekend will most likely qualify for me. It might be a little far-reaching, but my new goal is to qualify for nationals. It is ambitious, but I think I have to have goals and dreams, so I am going to shoot for it.


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