Campus Press talks to CU’s cross country celebrity about life abroad
Cross country star Jenny Barringer spent the summer competing for Team USA before returning to CU for her junior season. The NCAA runner-up in 2006, Barringer traveled with Team USA to Osaka, Japan and Paris to compete in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships and the DECA National Championships.
Barringer took first place in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the 2007 DECA National Championships in Paris Sept. 8 for her first victory competing internationally, and No. 22 in the IAAF World Championships in Osaka Aug. 24.
She recently took time to sit down with the Campus Press and talk about her experiences abroad and her thoughts on the 2007 season.
The Campus Press: What’s it like to be back?
Jenny Barringer: It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been really wild coming back. I’ve already been back for a week and a half and I feel like I just got here yesterday.
CP: What’s it like to be practicing with the team again?
JB: It’s amazing. It’s so nice to have the women back and be able to train with them and every day I can go out on a run with somebody. It’s a really great feeling after being gone for three and a half weeks and over the summer I trained a lot alone. Just having that team camaraderie is really great. I missed it a lot.
CP: What was it like to be out of the country? Did you know anyone before you left?
JB: I knew a handful of people but they were much more acquaintances than good friends. When you travel like that you really have to forge some friendships and be outgoing and be friendly right from the start. The other thing that is really interesting is that I joined a lot of CU alumni out there … Some of those people are still racing professionally after they’ve graduated, so that was fun.
CP: What was your favorite part of traveling?
JB: My favorite part of traveling was just experiencing the different cultures. It was really funny, the places that I was, you could just walk out and go to the grocery store and that was a cultural experience. And just running in different places and having to just adjust and adapt and be able to run under really strange circumstances. There was one night where we came into Paris, we flew into Paris from Osaka, and we finally rented a car and get to the hotel by probably 8:45 or 9 o’clock and it’s dark and I had to go on a 45 minute run. And so Heather (Burroughs) and I headed out, my assistance coach, we headed out and went on a run in a brand new place, you know, late at night, and so yeah it’s just learning how to be innovative and get done what you have to get done.
CP: How would you describe the differences between competing on the college level and competing with Team USA?
JB: (With) the college level, there seems to be a lot more diversity. There’s a lot of people that are interested in a lot of different things; there’s a lot of different personalities; there’s a lot of . diversity on our team and that’s just what I love so much about racing here at CU. You know we have got a really huge men’s and women’s team, we’re combined. But when you go to USA’s, there’s a very similar mentality amongst all the distance runners and, you know, all the athletes in general, but especially the distance runners. There’s a very similar mentality and to be at that level running has to be, if not the largest, one of the largest parts of your life. So that is a common ground for everyone there.
CP: What was it like being at the actual races?
JB: It was really overwhelming because I mean I’ve been at races that are really big and exciting and everyone is running around and yelling and excited for their team but to be out on the warm-up area the day of the race — you know everyone’s in their country’s uniform and you go out and you realize you’re not racing against different teams, you’re racing against different countries — and that kind of hitting me at the time was a little bit overwhelming. I think getting out into the stadium — I’d never ever raced in a stadium that large before and it’s exciting and it makes you feel like you’ve come to a place that’s really important and prestigious and bigger than yourself — and so that was really special.
CP: What was the hardest part of traveling?
JB: The hardest part of traveling was having to do so much of the training and so much of the traveling and everything without my team. Because no matter what happens, at a cross country meet or a track meet, you can say everyone’s going through this, everyone’s having to do this, and we’re all going to be better for it at the end. And while it’s still true when you’re traveling alone, and in this case it was Heather and myself, it’s much more just yourself. You have to get through it on your own, you have to get through the workouts on your own and you have to travel. That was very different and I really missed being able to kind of gather around my team and have them to bounce frustrations off of and bounce good experiences off of, so yeah, I missed them a lot.
CP: Was it hard to come back and start training with them after they had already been training since the beginning of the season?
JB: I think it was a little bit difficult because we are in different places. You know they have been doing base mileage and I just ran my fastest track race of my life. So we were in very different places fitness-wise. That has been interesting but I think I have folded in really well. I’m doing workouts with the girls again and going on runs with the girls again and I think we are keeping up with each other and with the change really well.
CP: How would you rate your performance in the races?
JB: In Osaka, I really think that I allowed myself to be kind of terrified, which wasn’t good. You know you step out on the line and you allow everything to hit you at one moment and that moment can’t be two seconds before you are going to race. And I think that’s a little bit of what happened. I was really disappointed with (my performance in Osaka) — I wanted to make the final. I could have and should have run a much faster time than I ran there. But after three and a half weeks of traveling and having to train under very compromised conditions, being able to run a PR (personal record) in Paris was really special. So I think that that was an A+ day for me.
CP: What do you think getting to compete like that, how is that going to affect your competition this season?
JB: It makes me really confident, knowing that I can get to that level of competition in the event area that I am currently interested in. It’s an enormous amount of confidence. It doesn’t make the races in college feel any less significant, not even a little bit, but it makes me feel like they are more manageable. You know I’m coming up on a home meet in Big 12′s and NCAA’s and I think, ‘I’ve been through this, I can do this again,’ and it just gives you a lot of confidence.
CP: How do you think you are going to do this season?
JB: I think this season is looking really good. I’m really excited. The polls came out and the women are ranked third and the men are ranked first. And I think we are going to have hopefully even better performances than we had last year and I’m really looking forward to contributing as best as possible to the team effort. But I think the key at this point is just staying healthy and keeping that competitive mindset . I think we are going to do really well.
CP: What would you say is the strength of the team right now?
JB: The strength of the team is that we’re so young. There’s so many really great freshmen and sophomores that are stepping up and making the real core of our team, and I really appreciate all of their hard work and their willingness to say, ‘I just got here but I’m ready to contribute.’ And I think that’s the No. 1 strength of our team.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Margot Schneider at email@example.com.
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