ONE-ON-ONE | Laurie Gomez-Henes Former Boardman standout has time on her side
You made All-America one more time in college than your husband, Bob. Do you ever rub it in?
(Laughs.) Nah. It's harder to run on the men's side. It's deeper and there's more competition. I'll do it every once in awhile if he makes me mad or tries to tell me what I'm doing wrong in training.
Given the background of you and your husband, do people expect your daughter to be an Olympic champion?
People talk about it, but we want her to try all kinds of different things so she knows what she wants to do. Obviously, running isn't something we'll discourage, but it's a tough sport training-wise. It requires a certain type of personality. Running isn't necessarily fun, but I think it draws a lot of great people.
Did you play any other sports in high school?
Actually, I was going to play tennis my freshman year until I joined cross country at the last minute. My mother had me go to a training camp at Mill Creek Park. I don't think I went to a cross country practice until a few days before the first meet.
Why did you pick NC State?
They were ranked No. 1 in the nation in cross country. Their runners ran really low mileage and I had done low mileage in high school so I wanted to make sure I went to a place where I wasn't going to get injured for doing too much volume too soon. I also really liked Coach [Rollie] Geiger. Some coaches call you and are really serious. Coach Geiger makes you laugh. He's like [Boardman girls track coach Denise] Gorski that way.
Track or cross country?
I didn't really like cross country, which sounds funny since I won three state titles. I learned to like cross country in college when we won the ACC title all four years. It was more of a team sport. I guess I prefer going around in a circle, knowing where you are each lap. And I run way up on my toes, so if it's really sloppy or muddy, I don't do as well.
Best moment of your high school career?
The Arcadia Invitational in California my senior year. I had run really poorly the week before at the Kinney (now Foot Locker) National Championships and they flew me out to run against the girls that had finished first, third and fourth at Kinney. I won both the 1600 and the 3200. I hadn't run against that kind of competition before. Also, my last state track meet in Columbus. Bob Kennedy was a senior that year as well and he had a great career. The fans were very appreciative of both of us.
The key to being a successful runner is?
This is hard to answer now that I'm coaching because what you think is the key really isn't. It's clich & eacute; to say dedication and hard work, but you really have to be dedicated. As I've gotten older, I've realized that having fun is important. So many people are obsessive about dedication and they don't listen to their body when they need to rest. We look for normal kids, not someone who restricts their calories or won't take a day off to eat ice cream. You have to do that or you'll burn out in a year.
Number of races you entered in high school thinking, "These poor saps have no chance?"
(Laughs.) I don't know. There were some, I'm sure. But college was never like that. Winning an NCAA national title never was. That might be why I only won one -- I screwed up on the other ones. Once I started running with Adidas after college, I never felt like that.
Running shoes you wear right now?
Adidas Gazelles. I've been under contract with Adidas for 10 years. They've been incredible. Especially since I've been pregnant for seven and a half months and they haven't dropped me.
Best pair of running shoes you've ever owned?
The original Adidas Responses. My heel doesn't hit the ground so I don't need any motion control or $120 specials. I want almost nothing in a shoe, so the $60 ones work for me. If you don't hit the ground with your heel, you don't need much.
Number of days you can go without running before you go crazy?
(Laughs.) I'm not quite crazy now and it's been about 100. When I'm not pregnant, about three.
Thing you miss most about Youngstown?
My family. They still live in Boardman but I haven't been home since Christmas.
Thing you miss least about Youngstown?
True or false, when someone in North Carolina mentions Jim Traficant, you change the subject?
(Laughs.) Oh no, I love to talk about it. People are amazed. When I heard about the [Scrappers promotion], I think I changed the subject. Most people's favorite question is whether he'll get re-elected. I haven't been home lately, but I think the answer is probably yes.
Something people would be surprised to learn?
Probably that I hate cross country. I like coaching it, but didn't like running it. We used to sneak off to Baskin Robbins during practice. Coach Gorski caught us one day and we got in big trouble. She swears about once a year and that was it.
Last movie that made you cry?
Everything makes you cry when you're pregnant, but I think it was "Riding in Cars with Boys." I don't think I would have cried if I wasn't pregnant.
Three albums in your CD player right now?
Fleetwood Mac; Cake; Elton John: Live in Australia.
Who is your hero?
Denise Gorski. She was my coach and she's my daughter's godmother. She's influenced so many people at Boardman and over the years I've wanted to do that for other people like she did for me. In terms of shaping my career choice, my mom and Mrs. Gorski.
What was the difference between you and most runners in high school?
It's clich & eacute; to say this, but I was just really competitive. I hated to lose. I got that from my dad.
After years of running, the part of your body that hurts the most?
My shin. My husband says it's not normal when someone touches your shin and you jump off the couch.
When and where were you happiest?
Giving birth to my daughter. Well, maybe not five minutes afterward. (Laughs.) Probably an hour afterward. Athletes tell you that it's just like training for a race, but that's bull. It's way more painful to give birth. I may get drugs this time. The labor took 13 hours and I think my husband ate 11 times in that period. If he does it again, I might just kick him out of the room.