March 9, 2009
Sarah Bowman, a senior from Warrenton, Va., is a six-time All-American and 11-time SEC champion during her track & field career at Tennessee. She heads to College Station, Texas, this week to compete in the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 13-14. She qualified for the meet in the 800m (career best 2:04.58), mile (school record 4:34.69), 3000m (career best 9:11.31) and distance medley relay (American and school record 10:56.40), but will most likely compete in the mile, 3K and DMR at the national meet. In her past two NCAA Indoor Championship appearances, Bowman finished third in the mile and anchored Tennessee to victory in the DMR in 2008 and charted finishes of sixth and second, respectively, in those events in 2007.
What's a typical week like for Sarah Bowman?
"My classes are Monday through Wednesday, so those days I'm pretty packed with classes. On Thursday and Friday, I don't have classes, and we're usually traveling or they fill up with something. As far as workouts go, we work out in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then we have afternoon practice every day at 3:30. Free weekends, I might go shopping. My roommate, Kimarra, and I find time some evenings when we just need to get out and get away. We'll go to the mall for an hour or so. There's always time for shopping!"
What is your favorite place on campus?
"I guess I'd have to say Tom Black Track, because I actually like practices. Also, the new business building (James A. Haslam II Business Building) is really nice. I spend a lot of my time there. It is nice and new, and it has a really relaxing atmosphere."
Is going on the road for meets more relaxing or stressful for you?
"It's weird, because I get so used to traveling as much as we do that when we have a weekend off I don't know what to do with myself. At times, you're like, 'man, we gotta go again, we gotta go again,' but it becomes so much a part of your life that you're used to it. It's fun to see new places and just be somewhere else for a few days. I actually enjoy traveling."
What is your favorite Coach Clark saying?
"I don't have a favorite saying, but there is a video of boxer Evander Holyfield. Coach Clark plays the video, and Holyfield says 'every time you're about to go into the ring, your adrenaline is going, nothing feels right, your shoes are too tight, something hurts. But when you get out there, you just have to go and get it done.' Coach Clark always brings that up and says you can't let your mind play those games and tell you something is wrong, because if you are good, you are good. It's just going to happen. Forget all the stuff going on all around you. Don't try to blame it on this and that. If you are going to run well, it's going to come from within you because you are good. It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing, or how your shoe feels or what the track looks like. It's just the idea that you are the one who make yourself good."
If you could participate in any other sport at Tennessee what would it be and why?
"Soccer, just because I played it for 10 years. You'll always have a little bit of love in your heart for the sport you left behind."
You have won three straight SEC Indoor mile, 3K and DMR titles. When you won those three titles two weekends ago, was it a sense of accomplishment or a sense of relief to you?
"Relief makes it seem like you didn't want to do it, and you're just glad it's over, so I wouldn't put it that way. I just wanted to go out and do it for the team, because I knew every point was going to matter. I wanted to do it for them and myself, just to say that I did that for three years in a row. You don't want to do it your sophomore and junior seasons and then not do it as a senior. It's your last chance, so you want to make it count."
How does it feel to be a part of Tennessee's resurgence in track & field and helping the program return to the national stature it had in the 1980s?
"I have never thought of myself as having played a big role in it, because right before I got here we had won the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championship. I guess I just thought I was coming to a team that was already on its way and never thought of me contributing to it."
What's your favorite track & field memory from college?
The SEC Indoor meet, my sophomore year, I just will remember that one, because I won the mile and the 3K, we won the distance medley relay and we won the meet. It was one of those meets where everything went right. I'll always remember that one. Penn Relays....every Penn Relays has been a memory. Last year, running the 4:07 (in the 1500m at NCAA Outdoors). I had been wanting to run fast for so long, and then to run that race and have everything fall into place and get the school record was amazing. I'd never even thought about the school record in the 1500, just because it was so fast. I just thought, 'I'll worry about that later.' Then all of a sudden you have the school record."
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
"(Laughs) I think Julia Roberts, just because people used to tell me I look like her, even though I don't think she'd actually play me in a movie."
Where did you get your talents and love for track & field?
"The love for track & field has been a growing thing (laughs). Because, when I first started, I was so nervous and competing made me so nervous. I was afraid to lose. I just didn't understand the concept. My parents took me to the meet, and it was so overwhelming. I think it was something that had to grow on me over time. Then, you eventually are able to translate that nervous energy to excitement. As for my ability, I always have said that my talent in track is a gift from God. That's who I give credit to. My dad runs a little, and he has endurance, so I probably got endurance from him. Overall, though, I would just say it's a gift from God."
What's in your iPod?
"(Laughs) Well, right now my IPod is lost. It's probably a mix of everything....country, rap, some rock songs. It's just whatever song inspires me at the time."
What's your favorite venue you've run in for a track meet and why?
"I don't think I have a favorite, honestly. It's just because the only way you'd pick a favorite is just because you had a good race there. Any place I've had a good race, I have decent memories of and say, 'I love running there.' It's about the athlete running on the track, not the track making the athlete better, so I try not to even let where we are racing affect me."
What made you choose Tennessee as your college?
"Initially, it was coach (J.J.) Clark. After meeting with him, talking with him and seeing the legacy he has, it was him. Now, obviously, I love the girls and the team aspect of everything."
Who do you look up to in the world of track & field?
"Right now, for me, it's just our team. Anyone who is having a successful season, you just kind of look to them, especially when it's your peers being successful. In high school, I remember watching a race, and I believe Molly Huddle was running. I had run the freshman mile right before, and the elite mile was right after me. I watched her run, and she ran the race wire-to-wire. At the time, I think she ran 4:46. I didn't know anything about track, but to me it was like, 'wow, I want to be able to run like that and do what she's doing.' So, at that time, I kind of looked up to her. Any race that I see where people are being successful inspires me. I can take something from it. There are so many great athletes in track & field, you can learn so many different things from each of them. You tend to gravitate toward successful people."
What are your favorite TV shows?
"I watch House and American Idol. I love the show Jon and Kate Plus 8, and I usually tape it and will watch it on the way to a meet on my ARCHOS player.
If you were a super hero, who would you be?
Probably Superman, just so I could fly.
How much do you think it helped you prepare for the NCAA Championships, having run on the same Texas A&M track earlier this season?
As far as the track, it's a brand new track, so we got to see it and break it in for the first time. But, tracks are tracks. The whole atmosphere around it - the stadium, where you're going to warm up, how they are going to call you in, where you're going to walk - you kind of have that down already. There's going to be no surprises as far as those things are concerned. That's kind of an advantage for us.
Did being a senior make you approach this season any differently? How so?
Yes, you don't want to have any regrets. Every race, you just try to go and leave it on the track and make it count.
What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
This is going to be kind of boring, but I like vanilla. Vanilla milkshakes, mostly. I'm a big vanilla milkshake fan, but If I had to pick a more exciting flavor, it would probably be Moose Tracks.
Do you feel like this season has gone according to script so far? How so/why not?
Yes, but there's always things that could have gone better or changed. You can't keep focusing on that. You have to keep focusing ahead and just stay positive.
What was your favorite toy or stuffed animal as a child?
I had a favorite night gown that was silky, and I wore it all the time. When I grew out of it, I kept it as a blankie. I think I probably still have it in one of my drawers today. It was called 'my silky or my pink, blue silky.' I don't think it was pink or blue (laughs)... I don't know where I got that. I actually rubbed my eyebrow off with it, because I liked the feeling of it. I would just rub, and I rubbed my eyebrow off. It's embarrassing.
You were an All-American in cross country this season for the first time. How much of a factor was that success in terms of influencing your results on the track thus far?
I think it was a big factor. It was building my endurance for the season, and it will continue to help me even throughout the outdoor season, just having that base and endurance. It was a big factor for me, especially just the focus and concentration. It makes you focus, and you just have to be a tougher runner. It also makes track seem so much easier.
Were you a picky eater as a child, or were you always a healthy eater?
I wasn't picky. My favorite color is green, so I always liked green vegetables like broccoli, peas. I always gravitated toward them. I was the kid who ordered broccoli instead of French fries, just because I really wanted that instead. I have kind of had an advantage in that through the years, because I had a love for vegetables when I was young. I also like cereal. I used to eat Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, any kind of sugary kids' cereal or healthy cereal. Now that I'm in college, I try to eat the healthier ones now, but when I was younger, I didn't really care.
What do you want your legacy to be when you leave Tennessee?
"I guess I would want people to think of me as someone who was focused and determined and who was a good person. Just to have someone even think of me anyway like that, even just leaving a legacy, is a compliment. That I had enough admirable qualities that they even care to call it a legacy is humbling."