Interviewed by: Jessica Fragola
1) Tell us a little about yourself. Also, tell everyone how your name is pronounced 🙂
Hello Everyone! My name is pronounced: (A-Lay-Uh), like the Himalaya’s or Princess Leia from Star Wars but spelled A-L-I-A-H. My mom created this name. She found a similar name in a baby book that had a phonetic spelling. But despite this ease, she decided to create her own spelling for fear that I’d be teased as a child. (You must be thinking, “Then why even name her this to begin with?” Well, that’s my mom. And it perfectly summarizes my perpetually frustrating relationship with her). Her strategy ended up working. No one teased me but only because they couldn’t actually figure out what my name even was. It certainly didn’t help matters that the famous singer, Aaliyah, produced a top 40 hit that drilled her name into everyone’s mind. Consequently, I answer to many other pronunciations and quietly seethe with anger. That being said, I think I’m a fairly normal person.
2) You’ve been passionate about running for a long time, and been part of clubs and teams since high school. What draws you to running and what do you like about being part of a team?
When I was about 8 years old I watched the summer Olympics and fell in love with the Track stars, specifically the female hurdlers. They were so strong, so fast, and so talented; I was mesmerized. I couldn’t wait until High School so that I could run Track and become a hurdler just like them. As it turned out, I wasn’t great at the 100m hurdles but was decent at the 300m hurdles, which led me to the 400m relay and then was guilted into the 800m relay. Then, someone suggested Cross Country and I laughed in their face. But when I didn’t make the Varsity Cheerleading team Junior year I decided XC would be an adequate alternative to stay in shape for Track season. I ended up doing well and enjoyed it a lot. I LOVE/LOVED competing to prove who was stronger and faster and better. The camaraderie on our team was great; we were like a little family. We had so much fun together and really bonded over shared goals and painful pursuits of glory. I had a similar experience with my team in college and because of those shared experiences I’m still great friends with most of them. I thrive on the excitement of shared goals, personal improvement, friendly competition, and the never ending quest of greatness. Plus, running gives me the time and space to reconnect with myself and focus on what is important to me – away from all the noise.
3) You were captain of your club cross country team in college. Tell us a little about that.
Ah the glory days! It was nothing truly remarkable. Since running is mostly an independent sport, I felt that I really only contributed in the way of creating space for everyone to feel included and important regarding their own goals. I encouraged some of the shyer girls to be less fearful of running faster than someone even if that someone was me. I tried to cheer for everyone and recognize their accomplishments. But I think the most important job was knowing when and where to cross traffic when we ran in groups.
4) You are super fast despite running far fewer miles than the average PRTC runner. What’s your secret?
Thanks! I listen to my body. I loosely follow a training plan depending on my racing goals but ultimately, I tailor it according to how I feel. My runs tend to be shorter, comparatively, but they’re still high quality; my heart rate is sustained according to the effort of the workout I want and my muscles groups are targeted according to effort as well. If I want to build power I’ll do hills, hard, and lift weights. If I want to build speed I’ll do various track workouts and focus on leg turnover, core strength, and stride length. If I want to build endurance, I’ll pay attention to my breathing and cardiovascular fitness. If I feel terrible I’ll slow down and if I feel great I’ll push myself. Of course, consistency (physically and psychologically), eating well-balanced, and drinking a lot of water play a huge role as well.
5) What are your running plans and goals for the future?
Currently, I’m mostly focused on getting back “in shape.” My current schedule has afforded me time to be more routine with my workouts. So I’m focusing on consistency and steadily regaining my fitness. I’m planning on running some 5ks this Summer to track my progress and I hope by Fall I will be in much better shape to race some 1/2 marathons. Beyond that, assuming I’m adequately addicted, I want to devote some time to crushing all of my PRs.
6) What are your favorite things to do outside of running?
I really enjoy pushing myself in many aspects. I try to learn new things and have new experiences. I enjoy writing, reading, socializing, and hanging out with Kevy-Poo.