Former all-America runner Lennie Waite wrapped up her collegiate career at Rice University a couple of years ago, but the lessons on the track keep coming.
Waite will soon return home to Austin after spending the summer competing in Europe. She will come back with a new perspective on her sport.
"At this level — on the world stage — it's like being a freshman at Rice all over again," said Waite, who has been doing research and training at Loughborough University in Loughborough, England, since June 1. "I'm in awe of many of the athletes, but as I train with them, I've learned that I can run at that level if I continue to apply myself."
Waite started off the summer well, competing in Warsaw, Poland, where she finished the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9 minutes, 54.88 seconds on June 10. She then dropped down to 1,500 meters, clocking a time of 4:18.25 in Watford, England.
A week ago, she took second in the steeplechase at the Scottish Championships in Dunfermline, finishing in a somewhat disappointing 10:21.
"I've been having some stomach issues, and this last week or so, I've been bothered by a metatarsal injury," Waite said. "So rather than continue to race here, I'll be headed back to Austin on Aug. 2."
Waite, who graduated from Rice with degrees in economics, psychology and managerial studies, is now pursuing a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Houston. Although she doesn't race often on Austin's roads, we may be seeing more of her as she trains for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, in October.
"Maybe some local 5Ks for speed work," said Waite, who won the women's elite division of the Congress Avenue Mile in May, finishing in 4:46.
What's a Texan doing competing in the Commonwealth Games, an athletic showcase for the United Kingdom and many former British colonies?
Waite was born to British parents and competes internationally for the UK, although she'll race for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. Born in Paisley, Scotland, before her family moved to Austin when she was 7, Waite is Scotland's national champion and record-holder in the steeplechase, based on a 9:50.48 finish in June 2009.
After taking the next week or two off, Waite will train under the watchful eye of Rice's track and cross country coach, Jim Bevin.
"Jim and I have great relationship," Waite said. "Without him, I wouldn't be running. In fact, being in Europe has been tough because he's normally on hand to give me a lot of feedback."
"I've worked with Lennie for six years now," Bevin said. "She started as an 800-meter runner, and I'd say by her second year at Rice, she was already a good runner. And she's continued to impress and improve throughout her running career.
"The truth is very few people reach her level, and she still has a ways to go. Her progression has been straightforward until recently — she's had some stomach problems and a foot injury — but it's better that it happened now. Some bumps in the road are good at this point, rather than later, because we're hoping to get her to the Olympics in 2012. She's made the sacrifices, but it's not always a smooth road. So we'll take this and learn from it."
Notes: Chalk up another Ironman victory for Austin triathlete Amy Cottrill Marsh, whose time for the 2.4-mile, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run at Lake Placid, N.Y., this past weekend was 9 hours, 27 minutes and 30 seconds. It was the second Ironman title this year for Marsh, a former collegiate swimmer who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., moved to Austin in 2001, and started competing in triathlons in 2002. ... On July 20 at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick, Cedar Park's Parker Stinson finished sixth in the 10,000 meters with a time of 29:32.23, the best finish ever by an American at the event.
Wednesday: 7 p.m., Sunstroke Summer Stampede Race #12 at Lady Bird Lake Trail (Interstate 35/Riverside Drive parking lot). See www.summerstampede.com.
Sunday: 8 a.m. Jack's Generic Triathlon at Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels. See www.jacksgenerictri.com.