Uhl experiences the Olympics, makes future plans


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Former ISU track runner Lisa Uhl competes in the the women’s 3,000-meter run during the NCAA Qualifier track meet at Lied Recreation Athletic Center on Saturday, March 3. Uhl finished in first place with a time of 9:08.68.

Stephen Koenigsfeld


Former Cyclone Lisa (Koll) Uhl said if she had to describe the 2012 London Olympics, she would have to stick to just that one word.

However, she put it into more context than it being “just surreal.” There was more to it for her.

“It was a very big test of patience,” Uhl said. “It’s kind of crazy with all of the security and all the red tape, and a lot of times something you think will take an hour will take four hours.”

Uhl said she was able to follow through with her testament of patience and kept the buildup of excitement contained for race day.

Other than what Uhl said was the unanimous feeling of competing and being one of the most elite athletes in your field, everyone had their “other favorite” part.

“For me it was the opening ceremonies. I ended up with a great spot, right next to the Olympic torch,” Uhl said. “So when they lit the torch, you could literally feel the heat of the flames.”

Iowa State was represented by three track and field athletes — two alumni of the university and one current student-athlete. Uhl was the first to represent the university, as well as the United States, in the 10,000-meter run, where she would go on to place 13th with a time of 31:12, a personal best.

Uhl said she thinks she definitely has a shot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro four years down the road.

“I’m 24 [years old] right now, and I’m pretty young as far as female distance runners go,” Uhl said. “Most female distance runners peak in their early 30s, so I have a couple left in me, hopefully.”

ISU roots

Corey Ihmels coached Uhl while she was at Iowa State. Ihmels said Uhl fulfilled more than just one role while on the cross-country and track teams.

“When I took over the women’s [team], we weren’t very good,” Ihmels said. “She was the bright spot in maybe a not-so-bright program.”

Ihmels said Uhl was more of a leader by doing.

“She wasn’t outspoken, and she did a good job of buying into what we were doing as a program and buying into training and kept getting better and better,” Ihmels said.

The women on the cross-country and track and field teams are now benefitting from the work and leadership Uhl laid out for them. 

Ihmels said she set the standard of “If she can be really good, why can’t I?”

Ihmels also coached both Ian Warner and Guor Marial, one a current student-athlete and the other an alum of the university, respectively.

The “proud dad” feeling came over Ihmels, he said, after seeing all three of the runners competing at the highest level in the track and field world.

‘Lisa time’

Coming off a personal best in the 10K, Uhl said she had registered for another road race within the next week. But after thinking it over, Uhl thought it would be best to take some time off.

“I was going to do a road race on Labor Day, and in New Haven I was going to do a quick 20K, but honestly, I had a hard time coming off the Olympics,” Uhl said. “It’s so emotionally and mentally draining. There’s kind of this post-Olympic depression that people talk about.”

Uhl said she struggled to get back into training after coming back to the United States. She has decided to go off the grid for a while and enjoy vacation time.

Doing everything she can’t do while she is running is what Uhl said she would be up to until fall rolls around. 

“I’m taking a lot of little vacations,” Uhl said. “I’m going to go home for a little bit; my husband and I booked a room out on the coast next week, so I’m going to go hang out on the Oregon coast for a couple days.

“And do some outdoor stuff I’m too tired to do when I’m training. Just forget about being a runner for a while and be a normal person for a little bit.”

Once fall does come back around, Uhl said she will get back into training with mileage and then indoor track when that season comes back.

Uhl said the Olympics were a life-changing event and something she will never forget.

“It was crazy to me to think I was one of those people,” Uhl said. “[It] just didn’t feel real. But to put the whole experience into one word, it would be surreal.”