FARGO — Until recently, Laura Roesler hadn’t competed in an indoor 800 meters for nearly three years. The Fargo South graduate and former Oregon Ducks track star made an impressive return.
Roesler ran a career-best indoor time in the 800 a little more than a week ago, winning at the Valentine Invitational in Boston with a time of 1 minute, 59.80 seconds.
It marked the first time she’s clocked a sub-2-minute race indoors.
“I really wanted to make the most of that opportunity,” Roesler said. “From the (start), I realized if I wanted to run fast and really go there to do what I wanted to do, I was going to have to take the lead and do it myself. … It ended up working out well for me.”
Prior to that Boston indoor race on Feb. 8, she hadn’t competed in an indoor 800 since the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Ore.
She first broke her indoor hiatus on Jan. 26, Roesler also competed in a 1,000 meters indoor race at the Dr. Sander Invitational in New York. She finished second with a time of 2:38.11.
Roesler said returning to indoor competition is the product on her feeling healthy again.
“Since college, I’ve been dealing with all these Achilles issues and problems,” said Roesler, a pro runner who trains out of Jacksonville, Fla. “Indoors was too hard on my body. I couldn’t really handle it. … I’m healthy now and things are going well and decided to race a couple times to break up the training.”
The 27-year-old Roesler, who turned pro in 2014 after a storied career at Oregon, added she feels primed for a strong year. Her goal is to eclipse her personal best in the outdoor 800, which she set in June 2014 at 1:59.04.
“I’m definitely hoping to crack my (outdoors) 800 PR. I think it’s time,” Roesler said. “Everything is clicking this year. I’m finally healthy and pain free. I have the love of running back. It was not a lot of fun trying to run and train when you’re in pain and having to modify everything. … I’m just happy to be happy running.”
Roesler plans to compete in the USATF Indoor Championships, which is scheduled for Feb. 22-24 at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Facility in Staten Island, N.Y. She’s slated to compete in the 1,000 meters before she turns her attention to the outdoor season.
She also plans to compete in the USATF Outdoor Championships, which are in July in Des Moines, Iowa, with hopes of qualifying for the IAAF World Championships, which start in late September in Doha, Qatar.
“I haven’t really started making an outdoor schedule,” Roesler said. “I’ll race locally early in the spring. … I want to be consistent and race well and stick my nose in it when I’m big races and have opportunities to race against the best.”
The 2020 Summer Olympics, which are in Tokyo, is on the long-term radar for Roesler. She’s competed in three previous U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field, but has yet to qualify for a U.S. Olympic team.
“I really am trying to stay present, but 2020 is in the back of everyone’s mind,” Roesler said. “It’s coming up quick. I plan on competing, trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials again and go through all that another time. … As of right now, there’s things to be done this year. I have things I want to accomplish and hoping to stay happy and healthy.”
Roesler credits having an "amazing" support system for her rediscovering her love for track.
“They made me realize why I did it in the first place, it’s because it’s fun and because I love to run," she said. "Now that I’m doing it for those reasons and not other reasons, I couldn’t be happier.”
Lynn and Karen Roesler, Laura's parents, said they can tell their daughter is enjoying running again.
“You can see it on her face," Lynn said. “She's a lot more upbeat about the way her workouts are going.”
Karen said Laura has settled into the pro lifestyle, which at times can be a grind.
"You've got to run for the right reasons, too, and you've got to figure that out," Karen said. “I think she would like to fly under the radar and surprise everybody. I don't think she's going to put any pressure on herself, but I think her confidence is going to be built."