Written by Julia Baribeau '17
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara Broncos (SCB) had a chance to catch up with junior Elsa Valenzuela (EV) to discuss her time as a Bronco and how she has become a better runner over the years.
SCB: How do you think you have become a better run over the past three years?
EV: Where I think I have grown the most as a runner is when things get tough and I'm in the most pain. I find that I am becoming more aware of that moment in both races and workouts. I'm still learning how to respond to it best, but as I become more aware and start to essentially say no to that part of my mind that wants to give in I find myself becoming a stronger runner. I may not be perfect at it, nor am I able to recognize that moment every time, but I'm making strides to make myself more mentally tough.
SCB: You got a personal best at the West Coast Conference Championships 6K. What was your mentality going into the race? What can you attribute to your success during the run?
EV: We as a team always get super pumped for the Conference Championship regardless of where it is hosted. This year in particular we went into the season knowing that we had home course advantage. We train on that course and we've raced on that course. For me I know that course inside and out and I went into the race unwilling to relent to anyone else. I knew every point mattered and I had the advantage. During the race having all the fans really pushed me through the race. I could hear the other sport teams yelling "SCU" and "Go Broncos". That was the final push to make me run faster.
SCB: What advice can you give cross-country runners coming to Santa Clara about balancing academics and athletics?
EV: I find the biggest thing is being open with your teammates and professors. I find my teammates the best source of information on what professors to take or what classes to take. They can help you by giving their advice or helping if you just don't get something. Often times someone will be in the library and text the team so we all know that someone is studying there. Even being open with professors is super helpful. The professors I have had are always willing to help you if something comes up. The last thing is to really structure your day and know when it is time to hang out with friends and when it is time to study.
SCB: What has been the most memorable moment this season?
EV: I'm split between two moments. The first is seeing the amazing effort everyone put forward during the Conference Championship meet. Everyone, including the coaches, was happy with the amazing effort everyone put forward. People overall were excited with how everyone had one of their best races all season at the same time. The second moment was stepping onto the Stanford Golf Course for NCAA Regionals. That was the first time I had ever raced at that meet and it was a fast race especially coming off the Conference Championship the week before.