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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 26 2010

Januszewski hopes to break the 2:00 mark

The Dutch interviewer had a different pronunciation for Laura Januszewski’s last name. Then again, the translation is different in Europe than it is in the United States.

But there is no differentiating the following: 2:00.

That is the goal now for the former North Dakota State track and field standout, who as Laura Hermanson helped raise the Division I stature of the school. At about this time last year, running a sub-two minute 800 meters was not something that seemed realistic.

No longer, and it appears to be a matter of time.

“Every year you have to readjust yourself and I think my training is going well,” she said. “It all builds on itself. Next year will be even better.”

Januszewski ran a personal-best 2:01.19 two weeks ago at the 2010 Brasschaat Meeting in Belgium. It was part of a European tour that took her and her coach, NDSU head women’s coach Ryun Godfrey, to Greece, the Olympic Training Center in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Technically, she’s a professional runner although she prefers the term “post-collegiate.” The goal is the 2012 Olympic Games and at the rate of her improvement, do not count her out whatsoever.

This year’s track season is done, but it is clear what the hope is next year when the indoor season starts in the winter and then transcends into the outdoor season: beat 2 minutes.

“She’s closer and closer every year,” Godfrey said. “Training wise, she’s doing things she’s never done in the past so right now, I think it’s a matter of being in the right race.”

The right race would mean going out in 58 or 59 seconds in the first 400 meters. By 600, she would want to be around 1:28 or 1:29.

In one European race, which started at 4 in the afternoon in 95 degree heat, Godfrey said, Januszewski ran well enough to beat 2 minutes but other factors, like weather, got in the way.

“It sounds like we’re making excuses which I suppose we are a little bit,” he said, “but a day later we saw these girls break two minutes when the race was at 9 at night and the pacesetter went out faster.”

At 24, she’s still very young for being an elite athlete in the sport. Many of the top professional runners are in their late 20s or early 30s and Januszewski admits she’s still getting used to training somewhat full time (she still holds down a job) rather than go to school and then run.

The plan the rest of this summer and this fall is to increase her mileage base. Godfrey said don’t rule out a possible attempt at the mile run or 1,500 meters in the future.

A plan of about 24 different workouts over a six- to seven-month period is getting conquered faster than ever. For example, instead of nine 200-meter sprints with 90 seconds or rest between them, she’s doing 14.

At the Netherlands Olympic Center, Godfrey had her run a couple of 100-meter runs at the end of a workout at about 85 to 90 percent effort and her times were around 13 seconds.

“I told her not to push it and she said ‘I’m not,’” Godfrey said. “I said, ‘You’re flying.’ She leaves practice feeling great.”

Great, however, will be beating two minutes. Like a high jumper clearing seven feet, Godfrey admits there is a mental barrier as well.

“Sometimes you go out fast and you ask yourself, ‘Can I hang on? Can I do this?’” he said. “But she’s not afraid to go for it and see what happens. Some are afraid to step on the gas too early. It hurts. The 800 hurts, but she looks at it as a challenge.”

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia