Bridget Franek has methodically set goals, made sacrifices, and taken risks to achieve her dreams. These goals have included getting a college athletic scholarship, becoming an NCAA champion and a USA team member, and making the Olympic final. In a talk to her high school in August of this year Franek said that “taking the risk to set the goal is the first step, and the bigger the goal, the bigger the risk.”
Her biggest risk to date was packing up and moving to Oregon to train with the OTC. The move paid off as she made her first Olympic final. Previously she had not moved past the first round at the World Championships (2009 and 2011). Her next goal? Rio 2016 and earning her MBA degree.
I talked with Bridget September 7th just prior to the start of classes at the University of Oregon.
What was it like making your first major final?
“Reporters got a real treat.” Bridget did not know that she had made the final when she crossed the line. She was walking through the media zone and was asked how she felt about making the final. Her reaction “What?! I did? Are you sure?”…followed by a big smile and a flood of tears.
Franek characterized herself as a bubble athlete in London, who would require a fantastic race to make the final. “Making the final was not a given for me.” She notes it is not the position an athlete would like to be in, but that was reality…for now. Her game plan for the qualifying round at the Olympics was to take the race out hard as there were better kickers in her heat. Her hope was to make the final on time. The tactic paid off as she found out in the media zone. A sweet reward after years of hard work, risks, and sacrifice.
What did you do after you were done racing?
“I was way more exhausted than I thought I would be after the final.” Bridget did get to watch other events and the closing ceremony. She watched women’s basketball and the racewalking finish in front of Buckingham Palace. Additionally, she could see BMX from the balcony of where she was staying. The U.S.A. hospitality houses were great fun as they encouraged athletes to go out to places that otherwise might be missed. Everyone at the houses had some connection to USA athletics and she got to meet many athletes from other sports.
What are your plans for the fall/winter?
Bridget got some much needed family time in Ohio after her return from Europe. This fall is going to be a new experience as she is starting the MBA program at the University of Oregon. Bridget is excited about starting something that could make a difference in her future. She also thinks that the structure required of a successful graduate student will enhance her training. Although training will remain her primary focus, going back to school will fill in the gaps and bring additional structure to her days.
Typically the fall is a base building period with little racing. This year, Franek would like to take a stab at making the U.S. World Cross Country Team. Given her coach agrees, she would likely race more this fall than she has in the past few years(both on the grass and roads). She believes this change will make her even stronger on the track in 2013. Another risk for the reward. Franek had success in XC throughout college, including four NCAA appearances. Surely her strength from steeplechasing over the years will serve her well on the grass of Forest Park in St. Louis.
What are your goals going towards the World Championships in Moscow?
Having made the Olympic final Franek can train with that knowledge and experience , which is an asset. As far as her goals? Bridget knows that going into Moscow there will be an expectation that she not only make the team, but make the final again. She hopes to be able to do even more. For now, she will continue setting goals and taking the required risks.
The Running Economist thinks that Bridget has a proven record of getting things done and looks forward to watching her run in St. Louis, Moscow, and Rio. Good luck Bridget!