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Athlete of the Month: Junior Gillian Meeks: Cross Country Runner

By Yuki Klotz-Burwell

The Oracle: When did you start running and what inspired you to start?

Gillian Meeks: The first race I ever did was the Juana Run in fifth grade. I really liked running in it. I’m a pretty competitive person, so I just kept going after that.

TO: Do you have any advice for fellow runners? 

GM: For almost everyone when they first start, there’s a big hurdle that you have to get over. It’s going to be really hard until that, but once you get past that hurdle it becomes a lot more enjoyable.

TO: How do you get into the mindset before a race?

GM: I usually get pretty nervous before a race, so that really helps me get into the mindset already. I generally visualize my race before I run; I try to figure out where I’m going to start picking it up.

TO: What has been the hardest part about running? What has been the best part?

GM: The hardest part is accepting that even when you try your very best, sometimes you won’t get what you wanted time-wise or place-wise. The best part is when you do feel like you gave it your maximum effort and you got a personal record or won, or you just really feel like you exceeded your expectations.

TO: How is running different from other sports?

GM: Running is different than other sports in that all you need is yourself and a pair of running shoes. Running is as hard or as easy as you want to make it. It also gives you opportunities to be social and run with others or just take a break from the world and connect with nature.

TO: What have you learned from running? 

GM: Running has made a huge impact on my life. It has taught me how to fight through pain and failure. It has taught me to keep pushing no matter how much it hurts. It has also given me an opportunity to put myself out there and push my body to its limits. Running is something that I fell in love when I was young and I hope to keep running my whole life.

TO: What was your proudest running moment?

GM: My proudest running moment would probably be coming back from getting fourth in the 1600m at 2014 CCS championships and getting third place in the 3200m just an hour later, grabbing the last spot for the state meet and helping my team win its first ever CCS track championship.

TO: What do you do to prepare for a race?

GM: The night before a race our team normally has pasta feeds which relaxes me a lot and fuels me for the race the next day. I also stretch, roll out my legs and try to go to bed as early as possible. Right before the race I have set warm up drills that I do to stretch out and get ready to race. I try to breathe slowly to calm myself down and talk to my friends to relax a little.

TO: Who are your inspirations? 

GM: My amazing coach Patti Sue Plumer inspires me with all her stories of competing at the Olympic level and with her confidence in me and my teammates. My former teammate, Sarah Robinson, was a huge inspiration to me. Being able to train with an athlete of Sarah’s caliber was so inspiring.

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