For most sports, running is the punishment: the worst part of training, or the aspect of the workout dreaded most. However, for some insane individuals, running until you break is the entirety of the sport. “Track is so intense because the goal is to push yourself to go as hard as you can. If you finish a race and feel fine, that’s a bad sign,” senior Duranya Freeman said. You can see this masochistic phenomenon of track and field clearly at the end of a race when athletes collapse past the finish line and gasp for air.
This is Freeman’s fourth collegiate track season, and she has been fiercely competing in running events since grade school. “I always liked playing tag on the playground when I was in elementary school,” she said. “I loved beating the boys. I didn’t actually start competing in track until middle school.”
Freeman started off running shorter distances like the 200 meter and the 400 meter, but transitioned to middle distance during high school. “This season I’ve been running the 800 m, a few 1500 m, and the 4×400 m relay,” she explained.
Last weekend, the Tigers traveled to University of Colorado Boulder to compete against several formidable DI and DII schools. Freeman ran the 800 meter and the 4×400 m relay. “I get kind of manic before a race,” Freeman admitted. “I try to stay relaxed, but I usually end up winding myself up and eating weird foods that involve disgusting variations of crackers and peanut butter.”
Apparently, a hodge-podge of food worked for Freeman this time because she raced phenomenally. “I definitely took a risk by going out faster than I usually do but it was a good confidence boost to go out that fast and still be able to pick it up at the end,” she said.
Before the season is over, Freeman would like to set a new personal record in the 800 meter and hopefully medal at conference like she did last year. “We also want to re-break the school record in the 4×400 m and repeat as SCAC champions,” she said.
Freeman prefaced this track season with her first ever collegiate cross country season. She excelled at cross country, easily making the conference team, and was able to get a solid endurance base for track season. “I’ve always been more of a track person but I tried cross country this year and I loved it,” Freeman said. “The girls on the team are really supportive of each other and are such a fun, crazy bunch.”
According to Freeman, the track team is so varied that you can get an accurate feel for the student body from the various characters. “We’re a very multi-talented team and we’re really diverse,” she said. “So many different majors are represented on the team, and I think we are a good representation of student athletes. A lot of us have to schedule our practices around afternoon lab; as our coach says, we just have to get [that workout] in.”
As much as Freeman loves running, it sounds like she loves the team even more. “We work really hard but also love to have fun and we really like traveling with each other, especially on longer trips like to Kansas,” she said. “You’d assume that you would start to go crazy, which you definitely do, but we have a lot of fun. It’s made us a lot closer.”
According to Freeman, distance running can result in female athletes developing an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. However, this is absolutely not the case with this team, which makes Freeman extremely happy. “I’m really proud of our team for being strong in so many different ways,” she said. “We run the way we do because we take care of ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically.”
This weekend the sprinters will run in Golden, Colo., and the longer distance runners will head to Wichita, Kan. to drop some times at lower elevation.