Gallo running toward U.S. Olympic Trials

Ex-Howell Rebel in 1,500-meter run

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Even if she weren’t an Olympic hopeful, Lindsey Gallo would be running. It’s what she loves to do.

However, the fact that she is one of the leadingmiddle distance runners in the country, and one with a chance tomake the 2008 United States Olympic Track and Field Team,makes it a bit easier to go out and for an eight-mile run in the morning in the 95- degree heat ofAnnArbor,Mich.

“It’s been brutally hot here [AnnArbor] and it makes it rough running,” she said. “Thinking about the Olympics is a great motivator. It would be a great feeling to cross the line and be an Olympian.”

Gallo, who competes professionally for Reebok, will be running the women’s 1,500 meters at the United States Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. The Trials are June 27-July 6 and includes three races in the metric mile for the women. The final is July 6.

To make the Olympic team, Gallo has to finish in the top three in the final and also attain an Olympic A standard (4:07.0). With a lifetime personal best of 4:05.75 that is well within reach.

Gallo is pleased with the way everything has gone in her buildup to the Trials.

“I’m having a really good season,” she said. “Everything is going according to plan. I still have two really good weeks of training to go.”

Gallo, a graduate of Howell High School where she was a state champion and All- American, finished fourth at the recent Reebok Grand Prix on Randall’s Island, NYC. Her season’s best of 4:08.43, the fifthfastest time run by anAmerican in ’08.

Gallo’s Olympic year started off ominously enough when she suffered a high ankle sprain during the indoor season. She ran only one race in Boston.

Looking back, she thinks it might have been the best thing for her. Although she lost a month of training, it kept her from over-racing or overtraining.

“I’m happy for the lay-off,” she explained. “Everyone has a bump in the road and mine was early.”

Gallo went from Howell to a brilliant career at the University of Michigan (UM), where she was a multiple Big 10 champion and All- American. She won an NCAA championship anchoring the Distance Medley Relay team to victory at the 2005 indoor national championships.

Upon graduation from U-M, Gallo remained in Ann Arbor where she could train under the tutelage of her college coach Mike McGuire. Staying there also gave her training partners, something any elite runner has to have. During the school year, Gallo, who has a master’s degree in accounting, did tutoring work for the university’s business school.

“There are a lot of resources here,” said Gallo. “CoachMcGuire knows me well and that makes it easier. It’s been a positive experience.”

She’s still doing many of the workouts she did when she was running for the Wolverines.

“My training isn’t all that different, but, it is a lot more intense,” she pointed out.

Gallo is running up to 60 miles a week putting in two runs a day, three times a week. She includes weight training three times a week and yoga once a week into her schedule.

Gallo said that she pays attention to all the small details as the Trials get closer, such as her diet, eating healthy foods, stretching, massages and getting enough sleep.

Looking ahead to the Trials, Gallo knows that she and her fellow milers will be in uncharted territory in Eugene. Unlike the 2004 Trials, they will be running three races (two heats and the finals) instead of two and that will make strength more important than speed.

“A lot of it is how we react to three rounds,” she remarked.

As a result, Gallo has geared her training toward endurance. The finalmay not go to the swiftest, but rather, the strongest.

One of Gallo’s strengths as a competitor is her ability to adjust on the fly during a race. It gives her the confidence to know that whether it’s a fast pace or a slow one, she knows where she has to be in either case. She said she would prefer a fast pace (“don’t make pretenders contenders,” McGuire says).

“I’m really comfortable with my speed in the last 400,” she pointed out. “I’d like it [the pace] to be quick.”

One of the runners who will be vying for an Olympic berth with Gallo is Erin Donohue. They’ve been racing against each other it seems for as long as they’ve been running. Their rivalry goes all the way back to high school when Donohue was at Haddonfield and she and Gallo were the state’s best distance runners. It continued in college (Donohue at theUniversity ofNorthCarolina) and now professionally.

“It’s nice to see her out there,” said Gallo. “We go back to the ’90s. It would be great if we both made the team.”

One thing that Gallo knows about the Trials is that the atmosphere there is conducive to great performances. Hayward Field on the University of Oregon is one of the few places in the country where track and field is a religion. It is also the track made famous by the late Steve Prefontaine, one of Gallo’s track heroes.

“The crowds are going to be fantastic,” she said. “The fans are knowledgeable, people who love track and field. They know the sport. Their enthusiasm elevates you.”

Gallo got a taste last summer of what it’s like to compete for the United States last summer at the Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she finished sixth in the 1,500.

“It’s incredible to get to represent your country,” she said.

Regardless of what happens in Eugene, Gallo will extend her running career well passed 2008.

“I plan on continuing,” she said. “In high school and college I never thought I’d end up here.

“I’m very lucky to be doing what I love,” she added. “I get to see the world for free.”

She would like to include Beijing, China, among her stops.