Lauren Harris thought something was wrong. As the Sachem East senior rounded the track in the 1,500-meter walk at the Ocean Breeze Invitational on Jan. 29, she could hear her coaches yelling at her.
“Come on Harris,” they screamed. “Keep it up.”
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“I thought it meant I was going too slow,” Harris said. “But they were saying that I was doing well.”
She wasn’t just doing well, she was doing better than anyone ever had. Harris set the national record at that distance, finishing in six minutes, 17.59 seconds at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island. The time shattered the previous national mark, a 6:28.20 set by Port Jefferson’s Lisa Kutzing in 1998, according to milesplit.com.
Harris is now the proud owner of two national walk records. She set the one-mile standard (6:57.36) last March.
Even with one national record in hand, Harris said that the 1,500-meter mark was a theoretical goal, but not one that she specifically set out to break.
“This record was faster than all the others and it was one that we thought ‘where did this come from?’ ” Harris said. “I knew that the opportunity was there, but my coach always tells me that time isn’t something we focus on. We focus on staying tough and the results come with it. We’re more process oriented than outcome oriented. If we do what we have to do, the outcome will come with it.”
But when the opportunity came, Harris couldn’t help but reach out and grab it. As Harris entered the final lap of her would-be record-breaking race, the calculations started to come into focus.
“The last lap, I was doing the math and I knew that if I kept up my pace, I would break the record,” Harris said. “That popped into my mind . . . Something that I try to work on is staying consistent with my times through the middle laps. My splits were really consistent and I didn’t slow down.”
Harris has certainly made the most of her senior season. Entering Tuesday, Harris’ world class time was 38.58 seconds faster than the next-best walker in the state, putting her in prime position to repeat as state champion next month.
Last weekend, Harris won the Suffolk Large Schools walk championship in 7:02.69, a race where her main goal was to pace her teammates in order to score the most points possible, she said.
It worked. Sachem East took home their second consecutive team county championship.
“I think it’s a lot of the little things,” Harris said of her successful season. “Yeah, I go to practice and I do my workouts, but when I go home, I do another stretch and I take my vitamins and hydrate non-stop. I have good relationships with my teammates and we push each other. I think those things help me the most, even more than the workouts.”