Runner Gomez hits stride at CWU

Xander Fu

Xander Fu

Natalie Hyland, Staff Reporter

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When senior Elena Gomez first came to CWU two years ago, she knew one thing for sure: she wanted to run. A swimmer in high school, Gomez first started running by herself during her freshman year of college at University of Colorado Boulder. Since then, she has conquered many miles and has no intention of stopping any time soon.

Mostly recently, Gomez competed with the Wildcats at Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham.

“That was a little rough. But, we’re racing [Oct. 22] at the same course so hopefully I’ll do better,” Gomez said.

She ran even though she was injured, a definite display of her passion and determination for running with  CWU.

“I know 100 percent I could do better,” Gomez said of her first performance at WWU.

“When we run, we are very susceptible to injuries. It is hard mentally to back off from training [when injured],” Gomez said.

Now that she has had some time to heal, Gomez has turned her focus to the race ahead of her.

Before each race, Gomez has a few rituals; eating whole wheat pasta with vegetables and fish the night before. For breakfast, Gomez eats oatmeal with peanut butter and bananas while drinking her routine cup of coffee.

But the rituals don’t stop there; before each race Gomez makes sure to wear the same Colorado socks, jump up and down three times, kiss her necklace and touch her wrist tattoo. Gomez must be getting something right, because she has already made her mark on CWU running.

Gomez, a double major in food science and nutrition and Spanish, holds the school record in the 10k for Central Washington Track and Field. Her goal this season is no surprise; she wants to do it again.

Head Coach Kevin Adkisson believes she can do just that. He and rest of the cross country and track and field coaching staffs are excited to see what Gomez can accomplish this season.

“[Running] is my passion, nobody ever asked me to do it. I love the adrenaline,” Gomez said.

Some of Gomez’s biggest inspirations are Olympic marathoner Shalane Flanagan and teammate Alexa Schindruk.

“She’s one of mine too, she’s been a great teammate and role model, her love for running is evident and she always works hard,” sophomore Alexa Schindruk said.

Both girls can attest that the team is like one big family, where everyone supports and motivates each other. This support makes all the difference for Gomez whose family is home in Colorado and cannot be with her.

“I want to make them proud,” Gomez said of both her team and family.

The small, tight-knit family unit is a major reason that Gomez chose to transfer to CWU after taking a year off to travel through South America.

“I didn’t like [Colorado, Boulder], it was too big,” Gomez said.

The University of Colorado-Boulder has a student body of over 31,000  over three times larger than CWU’s enrollment of 10,000 making it easy to get lost in the crowd there.

One of the biggest challenges of a student athlete is finding the time for everything. A single day has to be planned out from start to finish. There must be a certain time set aside for classes, homework, workouts and eating.

“It is tough being an athlete but, I think it is totally worth it in the end,” Gomez said.

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Runner Gomez hits stride at CWU