McGraw overcomes adversity on the track

Skyline senior will run at Seattle Pacific University.

To say Skyline Spartans senior track/cross country athlete Amber McGraw likes running would be an absolute understatement.

McGraw, who will run track and cross country at Seattle Pacific University (Division-II school) during the 2018-19 school year, has a passion for running that most people don’t possess.

“My idea of a good time is waking up in the morning and going running for 10 miles at Tiger Mountain,” McGraw said.

In spring 2017, McGraw’s greatest passion became increasingly difficult to partake in during her junior season of track and field.

“I was just very tired and I also had a lot of food sensitivity issues,” McGraw said.

After undergoing blood work, it was discovered McGraw had a severe iron deficiency that zapped her energy levels to the max. McGraw partook in multiple treatments that included iron infusion procedures (in which iron is delivered to the body intravenously) for 45 minutes at a time. In addition, McGraw said she began the treatment by taking oral supplements twice a day (one teaspoon dosage).

“It took a while because I wasn’t even nearly up to a level I should be, but after a month, I started to not feel as tired and started to see more progress in my running,” she said. “Over the summer, I got the iron infusions and by the time the cross country season began, just kind of took off because I was healthy again. I had the iron I needed to process the oxygen in my body.”

McGraw saw her times improve dramatically during her senior season of cross country in 2017 as opposed to her junior season in 2016, when she constantly felt sluggish.

“The difference was huge. In the 5K, my time my senior year was a minute and a half better,” McGraw said.

This spring, McGraw’s times significantly improved in the 1,600 and in the 4 x 400 relay during her senior track season.

“In the mile, I improved by 30 seconds. It is huge. It is only four laps and you have to get going,” McGraw said of the race. “This year, I made the 4 x 400 varsity scoring team. Last year I just ran (400) for fun.”

McGraw’s mother Christy McGraw is thankful doctors discovered what was ailing her daughter last year.

“I am just so happy for her. If we hadn’t figured this out, I don’t think she would have had the breakout seasons that she is having this year. I don’t think she would have had the chance to run collegiately. This is really life changing. It was her dream to run at the college level and now she gets to go do that,” Christy said. “If we left the iron deficiency unsolved, there would had just been no way. The iron level she had was the second lowest the doctor had ever seen. It was pretty bad.”

Christy is thrilled her daughter chose a university that is so close to home. Seattle Pacific University is just a 24-mile drive from Sammamish.

“My husband and I are so excited. We love to go to her track and cross country meets. We never miss one and I don’t think we ever will. I’m just really proud of her,” Christy said.

Amber played a plethora of different sports throughout childhood but ultimately decided running was the best fit for her.

“In the eighth grade, I didn’t make the volleyball team, so I was like I will do cross country. I was kind of iffy on it,” she said. “I joined it and never looked back.”

Recently, the Issaquah Reporter had an opportunity to ask McGraw a few questions about her life away from the track.

Issaquah Reporter: What is your favorite movie of all time?

Amber McGraw: I would say “Napoleon Dynamite.” It is so funny. I have watched it a million times.

IR: What is your biggest pet peeve?

AM: Bad grammar. It is just something that gets on my nerves.

IR: What is your dream vacation spot?

AM: We always go to Flathead Lake in Montana. We go back there every summer for sure.

IR: If you could pick one person to go to dinner with, who would it be?

AM: I like history a lot. I would go to dinner with Paul Revere from the American Revolution.

IR: What is your favorite restaurant in Sammamish?

AM: Chipotle (Mexican eatery). I always eat it the day before my track meets. It works for me.