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Olympic's Camille Shiflett aiming high in Cross Country

Silverdale's Camille Shiflett came to running late now she's aiming for the Olympics

BY: Terry Mosher
Posted: 6:18 PM, Oct 21, 2014
Updated 7:25 PM, Oct 21, 2014

Camille Shiflett

Silverdale’s Camille Shiflett is a happy, positive individual with a tremendous competitor’s spirit that burns deep in her 40-year-old soul.

The mother of four Elizabeth (12), Micajah (10), Ava (8), Carina (5) and wife of a Navy Commander, Nathan Shiflett, is making the local running community take notice.

Longtime Navy running coach Jim Felty has seen nothing like quite like it.

“She is a unique bird,” said Felty, who trains Shiflett and the Navy’s top runners from across the country, and is assistant cross country coach and head track and field coach at Klahowya. “She’s very talented and she came to running just recently. She’s probably the best female talent we have had in this area in quite some time. “

Shiflett enrolled at Olympic College this fall to get into the nursing program and began asking around about the cross country program. It didn’t take long for coach Dan Dittmer to realize how talented she was and offered her a scholarship.

“She’s a real neat lady,” Dittmer said.” She’s very excitable, very personable. “

Shiflett ran one unofficial race with the team at the Salt Creek Invitational, finishing as the top female. She ran in the Race for a Soldier at Gig Harbor, and was the first female finisher again. In her first official race with OC, she was the second female to finish at the Pacific Lutheran Invitational.

“The last three-quarters of a mile she was overtaken,” Dittmer said. “It was a learning experience for her.”

“Oh boy,” Shiflett said, laughing. “I do have to say this cross county league is new to me.”

Shiflett is used to running roads, or being a roady as she calls it, and it’s been difficult to learn the correct pace and adjust to being elbowed by girls two decades younger.

“It’s just amazing to be able to pace yourself and see how, through hard workouts, you can obtain your time and goal on the cross county courses,” Shiflett said. “You just have to remember the primal joy of running when you are getting the best out of yourself, when you can just run for joy. Two weeks ago I didn’t look at my time when I ran a 1:21.22 (at Gig Harbor), and I teared up because I was running for joy. Like the cross country event, it’s just sheer joy running on grass. It’s a wonderful feel, and the smell of leaves. You just can’t beat that. And the 18-year-olds just makes it even more exciting the college kids.”

Last weekend, Shiflett raced in the six-kilometer Emerald City Open in Seattle and took 11th among women with a time of 22:44.

Shiflett, who played soccer and was a cheerleader at Bothell High, played soccer at Washington State where she graduated in 1997 with a degree in zoology, intending to go to veterinary school (she instead got masters in nutrition). She continues to play soccer at the Olympic Sports Center, but that has taken a back seat now that she aiming to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon by reaching the “B” standard of 2:43.

She started running about five years ago when the family was living in Wisconsin. There she joined the Tri-Ozaukee Tri-Club and competed in triathlons. When the family got to San Diego, running took a turn to the serious when she was coached by Kevin Prochaska, a noted runner in San Diego.

When the family moved here a year ago, she was sponsored by Poulsbo Running while looking around for another coach.

“She called me out of the blue,” Felty said. “She had heard if she wanted a local coach, she should call me. After I stopped laughing, I agreed to meet her. I told her if she wanted to get to the Olympic Trials, you have to have short term and long term goals and how to get there. I’m still taking baby steps with her, and adjusting to her. She is so busy with four kids and a husband.”

Because of her personality, Shiflett’s many friends call her by various nicknames including Psycho C by Felty but the overwhelming favorite is Cheetah, and she has adopted that name as part of her email address.

Felty said when Shiflett ran the Poulsbo half marathon, he wanted her to run just under 1:30, maybe around 1:28. Shiflett ran it in 1:23.26 and was the first female finisher, and third overall. She would have liked to finish even higher.

“I know I’m 40,” Shiflett said, laughing. “(But), I’ve always been athletic. I believe I have the heart of a lion. If you look at me (5-foot-4, 98 pounds) you wouldn’t see an Olympian. But get me out there in a race and I have the heart of a lion.”

Felty just shakes his head.

“She a fierce competitor,” Felty said. “One thing that drives me crazy about her is that I can’t get her to relax. For example, I knew she would win the Poulsbo half marathon (for females) before the gun went off. I just wanted her to run slowly, nice and easy. I wanted her to win, but also not to kill herself.”

Next up for her and the OC Rangers is Friday’s Northwest Athletic Conference’s Northern Region Championships in Everett. The final race for OC is Nov. 8 NWAC championships in Battle Ground.

The next goal for her is to compete in the California International Marathon in Sacramento on Dec. 7. Many of the better women in the country compete in this race, which is over a fast course, in an attempt to qualify for the Olympic Trials which will be held in Feb. 13, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Shiflett figures it will take a year or two to be able to reach the B Standard for the marathon, a race which she has yet to run.

“If anybody can do it, I can do it,” she said. “It takes discipline. In the dead of winter, I made myself get up early and go running with head lamps in the dark and cold and rain. I dug down deep and it made me stronger as an individual and as an athlete.”

Is Shiflett driven?

You bet.

“I just think I was born with it,” she said. “I think a lot of elite athletes have a special ability to dig down deep and push past the horrific pain. It can overtake you. You just got to push through. Discipline is mind, body and spirit, and nutrition.

“We are all obsessive. At least I’m obsessive in a good way.”

Shiflett and Olympic head coach Dan Dittmer high five each other. Shiflett  won the NWAC North West Region women's title last weekend and now has her eye on the NWAC league championship that will take place on November 8th in Battle Ground, WA.


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