Kelley Castillo was named Eagle of the Week after she led the women’s cross country team with a 12th place finish at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, AR, on Saturday, Oct. 5th.
This performance, where Castillo improved her time in the 5,000 meter race, which allowed the team to finish the meet at 8th out of the 41 competing teams.
In a recent interview with the Talon, Castillo described what led to her impressive performance.
What got you into cross country?
I was in seventh grade, so I was finally old enough to participate in school sports. I was a swimmer at the time, but there was not a middle school swim team. My dad was a runner in high school and college, so I decided to give running a shot. I didn’t mind running, so I just went for it.”
You dropped a lot of time off your previous personal best, what do you attribute to this?
Since freshman year I’ve tried my best to take training seriously and give my best effort. This past summer I trained harder and more consistently than previous years, and I am seeing how the past few years of training at the collegiate level have contributed to my fitness today. However, I think that one of the major reasons I was able to improve so much is that my attitude toward training and competing has completely changed. This being my senior year, I am soaking up every moment and I’m not allowing any negative thoughts hold me back—especially during races. I’m having a ton of fun, and the Lord has blessed me with amazing teammates and coaches that help me reach my potential.
How much do you run daily when training for a race?
I run between 40-45 miles per week, but the amount each day varies. A typical mileage day is usually about six or seven miles, but workout days and long runs are longer. Coach Miller does a great job making sure there is a nice balance throughout the week so we can recover well after hard workouts before race day.
You’ve been running extremely well this season; do you think there is anything specific leading to your results?
Honestly, I don’t think that there is one specific thing I have done recently that has led to the results I’ve had this season. I’ve been following the plan Coach Miller has for me, and I make sure that I am fueling well and sleeping enough. Those seem like very simple things, but that’s all that I can think of that I’ve done. The Lord has allowed me to stay healthy while my training has intensified and increased, and I could not be more thankful for that. He has given me the opportunity to run for OC and increased my love for the sport, especially this season. I give the credit to him because it’s been a long road, and he has been working through it all.
How do you feel about the rest of the races going forward this year?
I am really looking forward to the last two races we have this season. Our team is pretty young, but we have proven to be strong and we have been putting in solid work. Everyone is encouraging and supportive of one another, which makes for fun experiences no matter how the races go. We have had some strong races so far this season, so I think we can build off of those experiences to motivate us as we close out the season.”
When you do well like this, how does it affect your mindset going into future meets?
Having strong races gives me confidence heading into future races. I have struggled with doubting myself and letting myself be defeated before the race even ends. This year I have been focusing on what I have been able to overcome and accomplish, whether that be in practice or a race—and that gives me a driven and hopeful mindset rather than putting a lot of pressure on myself.
What do you think about while you’re running?
Previously, I would zone out and occasionally think about how tired I was. This season I have tried to think about things that are directly in front of me in the race because it helps me stay more focused on the fact that I’m in the middle of a race. Lately I have noticed that I think a lot about the runners next to and in front of me. This past Saturday, me and Kenya were next to each other the whole race and gave each other tips or encouragement every once in a while, and that was pretty fun.