One on One

by Lily Gordon | 2/2/14 7:32pm

This week, I sat down with Dana Giordano ’16, a member of the women’s track team, to discuss her distance medley relay team’s record-setting performance Friday night at Pennsylvania State University. Finishing with an impressive combined time of 11:02.21, the fierce foursome earned themselves a spot in the NCAA Championships.

How do relays compare to the individual events you run?

DG: Your teammates are really dependent on you, which can create a lot of pressure but is also exciting. They’re also less common in college, so it’s fun when we have the chance to run them.

What is the most challenging aspect of the race?

DG: This past weekend, the most challenging part was knowing the field because it was so small. It was also challenging for me just knowing how talented everyone out there was. I had to remind myself that everything was going to be okay and that I belonged out there even though my times are not what theirs are. So I guess the hardest part for me, leading off, was just trying to stay in it right from the beginning so that we wouldn’t have a big gap.

How do you prepare?

DG: [Jennifer Meech ’16] and I usually practice handoffs because she’s the next leg of the race. And then the four of us usually have a little pep talk before the event and hold the baton together before we get out there and send it off.

What role does team chemistry play?

DG: Team chemistry is really important because you don’t want to run for just anyone. You won’t run as fast if it’s for nothing. So team chemistry definitely gives it a purpose and provides us all with motivation for the race.

Do you spend much time with the other members of the relay team outside of practice?

DG: We spend a lot of time together as a team and eat practically every meal together. It’s really nice for me because I feel like I can walk into FoCo at nearly any time, and I’m guaranteed to see some people from my team and join them.

How much do your times vary from practice to events?

DG: This past weekend we were all very close to our goal time, but we could have done better by about a second or two. So for instance, I knew this race I needed about a 3:25 or lower, and I think I got pretty close to that but could have been faster. So you really have to know your times because even if you’re competitive and you’re winning a race, you’re still racing the clock, not just the other people out there.

Do you have any pre-meet rituals or superstitions?

DG: Sometimes we all watch movies the night before a big meet. We’re told not to do homework on the day of the race. I’m not really the most superstitious. Some people on the team are crazy about what they eat, but not me. I race the best when I’m happy. So if I’m nervous or thinking about a lot of things, it’s just not going to work out well. Abbey [D’Agostino ’14] and I were just talking about this the other day: it’s silly that we get nervous about these meets. We are out there running every day, doing what we love. Come race time we should just remember that, relax and have fun with it.

How do you mentally prepare yourself in the few minutes before you run?

DG: We do striders right before, which are fast 150-meter sprints to get your heart rate up before the meet. So in those final minutes you get a little antsy, but when you get on the line, you just have to stop.

What typically is going through your head while you are running?

DG: You can hear the coach’s split sometimes and the crowd, but honestly you’re really just thinking about moving up to the next group. Your mind doesn’t really wander in that short of a race.

Going forward, how do you plan to improve your strategy?

DG: I think we all just need to be a little more competitive. Especially as the first leg, I need to just hop in there and not be so afraid. You’ve got to get out there at some point!

This interview has been edited and condensed.