Written by Genre McAtee '16
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Kelly Ryan (KR) is relishing the time she has left on the Santa Clara track and field team. As a senior, Ryan is running her last season as a Bronco student athlete. Ryan reminisced with Santa Clara Broncos (SCB) about some of her career highlights and what she will walk away from once this season comes to a close.
SCB: What distances have you been participating in most often this season? Do you have a preference?
KR: For the most part, this season I have participated in the 5k. This upcoming weekend I will run a 10k, only the second one in my career, and I'm really looking forward to it. However, if I had to pick between the two, I'd have to go with the 5k. To me, it's the perfect distance because you can allow yourself to be relaxed in the beginning of the race but also have enough time to work your way up near the front and still take some risks.
SCB: Do you ever get nervous before an event? If so, how do you combat those nerves?
KR: Yes, I definitely have some nerves before I step on the line. Normally, it kicks in a couple hours before the warm up. They never completely go away until the race starts but during the warm up I do my best to go over my goals for the race and review the training that has gotten me here. Mainly though, about 20 minutes before the race, I take a couple minutes to just stand still or walk slowly and take everything in. I try not to overthink things on race day so these moments really help me relax and clear my head.
SCB: At the Bryan Clay Invitational in April you ran your personal best in the 5K (17:31). What contributed to it being such a successful race?
KR: This race is definitely one of the highlights of my career as Bronco. The couple of weeks leading up to it, I had been struggling mentally with confidence and overthinking every little thing in workouts so what my coach said to me while I was warming up pre-race really had an impact on me. He told me to forget about my place in the race or my time and just go out there, have fun, and enjoy racing as a senior and as captain. Sometimes all I really need is to go back to basics because it completely clears my head and relaxes me so I can focus on racing for myself and no one else. I really owe that to him. It also helped that during the last two laps, when it really hurt, my entire team was lining the sidelines jumping up and down cheering for me. There was such a high energy.
SCB: How do you wind down after a race?
KR: Post-race, in general, I take about five minutes to cool off and relax my breathing and my muscles as well as get some water. I'll switch back into my training shoes and do a light jog for around 10-15 minutes to make sure my muscles don't cramp up. This is also a time where I reflect on the races themselves and what I want to improve on or what I did right. I'll also try and get a good stretch in after. Then, it's time to think about what I want to eat because now that I'm done with my race there are no restrictions.
SCB: Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences on the Santa Clara women's track team?
KR: I really am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that my career is just about over but reflecting back, I couldn't have asked or a better team or coaching staff to help push me to achieving all of my goals. Coming from high school, I thought I knew all there was to know about xc/track, but coming to Santa Clara allowed me to continue to grow and mature as an athlete. I learned a lot about myself and why I love to compete in this grueling sport. Mainly, my coaches taught me to trust myself and have confidence whenever I stepped on the line. I have gotten a lot stronger physically over my four years, but I have become so much stronger mentally and I have this team and program to thank for that. As for my teammates, they are some of my best friends and I know I can always count on them to be there for me on and off the track.