Athlete of the Week: Cora Williams

By Pablo Morales

Cora Williams, a junior from Brentwood, Calif., had her best race of the season on Saturday at the Midwest Conference season-ending meet. Her time of 23:11 in the 6,000-meter (3.7 mile) course was the fastest time among Lawrentians and good enough for 11th place in the conference.

Pablo Morales: You had a pretty great race this weekend. Congratulations!

Cora Williams: Thank you. I was really happy with my race; I ran the best 6K I’ve ever run. It’s a bit of a bummer for the team, since we were going for first place and ended up with third, although we also placed third in conference last year. So it’s good we didn’t lose any ground.

PM: Reid Golf Course is a pretty nice course to run.

CW: Yeah, it is. Usually in races I hate running two laps—in a cross-country race, the whole course should be unique. I really like our course, though. I think since it was at home and we had a lot of support, it was so exciting. Courses that loop are more spectator-friendly, too. I really love it—there’s a lot of variety in the course, some great hills and nice stretches.

PM: Do you get nervous before a race?

CW: Definitely. A mentor of mine once told me, ‘If you’re not nervous, you don’t care.’ So yeah, I always get nervous. It’s better than apathy.

PM: When did you start running?

CW: I started when I was 11. My dad trained me throughout middle school; he ran throughout college. I mostly relied on him throughout high school too. That’s actually one of the hardest things about being away from home—he’s never been able to see me race in college.

PM: How do you think you’ve transformed as a runner since you started at 11?

CW: I’ve learned to laugh at myself. Do you want to hear a funny story? The first time I ever ran a mile, when I finished I thought I was going to die. My dad had ridden his bike alongside me the whole way and I told him to call an ambulance. I’m still alive to this day.

PM: Glad you made it!

CW: I’ve also learned to relax a bit more. Not just my running form itself, but also having different ideas about running. I’ve learned to look at running as a release rather than something to be stressed out about.

PM: Running can be such a mental game.

CW: I think that helped out with how I did on Saturday. Since the course is two laps, I finished the first lap really fast and thought I’d be tired out soon. Instead, I ended up focusing on making sure I didn’t give up and also feeling comfortable.

PM: That’s a great mindset.

CW: One of the things I learned this season was that when you are running, you have to think in the present. For so long, I would start the race, and as soon as I started I’d be thinking about how I was going to end the race, instead of focusing how I felt in that mile right then. One of the things I was training myself to do all season was being in the moment.

PM: Any final thoughts, burning comments that you’d like to get out into the world?

CW: There’s a quote that’s been on my mind today. It’s from Tom Stoppard’s play “Arcadia.” It goes, “The unpredictable and the predetermined unfold together to make everything the way it is.” Mind blowing.