Could you describe a typical day during cross country season?
When my watch alarm nudges me into groggy consciousness, I massage my feet, stretch my hamstrings, jam my custom-made orthodics into muddy sneakers, and speed away on my rusty bike to class, during which I hydrate, snack, and pop iron supplements. After class, I read under my favorite tree until the clock over Willis strikes three, when I enter panic mode and skim as fast as humanly possible until 3:05, at which point, absolutely itching for movement, I jump up and dash to the Rec Center. The Rec Center door opens a dream world full of people exercising. As I step inside, (our coach) Donna shouts her greetings from the balcony above the giddy laughter of my teammates. Happy, girly, and pump-up music blasts from the women's locker room, revealing the incredible singing voices and widely varied musical tastes of our cross country team. Promptly at 3:28 (We are on Donna Time, and Donna's watch is always two minutes fast) Donna shares her latest news and plans with us, then we spill out the back door into the arb for a killer workout on our favorite paths. After the workout, we strengthen our cores, stretch, and stop at our logbooks to record mileage, note pain and soreness, and lie about how much we slept last night. We gradually migrate to the trainer's in order to get our daily fix of Calvin and Hobbes while undoing the damage we've done to our bodies through physical therapy exercises, ice bags, ice cups, and ice baths. A quick shower segues into dinner, and then, but not before 8pm, the library. Luckily, my books and computer can take care of themselves in the libe while I take leisurely walks, bike rides, and trips to the snack bar for giant cookies with friends.
How would you describe the personality of your team?
Our team is a really neat mix of women from all walks of life who all happen to love to run. What struck me most about this team when I first arrived was its cooperative nature. It's "I am going to do everything I can to be the best I can be, and I am going to do everything I can to help you succeed with me."
Do you have any team traditions?
Plenty. My favorite tradition is Karhu, a race against St. Olaf in which the women who will be running at Regionals dress up as bearded ladies to cheer on the rest of the team. I love this race because it is one of the only times that we get to watch our teammates race, and to finally shout at them all the positive, motivational thoughts we can only send by telepathy during normal races.
How do you balance academics and athletics?
I make athletics my respite from academics. It's much easier to work hard between classes or before practice knowing that I am about to go on a three hour extremely refreshing study break. When track finishes in the spring, I am usually so excited to have extra time to study, and I'll spend those first couple days studying during all the time I used to spend at practice, and I find that it is much too draining; I'm not a happy person if I don't play outside a few hours a day, and if I'm unhappy, I'm unproductive.
What is your advice to prospective student-athletes?
Speaking for cross country, ask how much of yourself you are willing to give. You need no talent, only to dedicate an enormous chunk of time, energy, and love into the team and the sport. True, it may feel exhausting at times, especially at first, but it really does feed one's soul.