On the Start Line with Emily Harrison
Senior All-American Emily Harrison is among eight Cavaliers who have qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week in Des Moines, Iowa. Harrison graduated from Virginia in May with a degree in environmental science and is making her second-consecutive trip to the outdoor championships, where she will look to improve upon her 13th-place finish at the meet in the 10,000 meters last season. Fellow seniors Katie Read and Kara Scanlin will join Harrison at 8:10 p.m. on Friday evening, as the trio compete for a national championship in the 10,000 meters.
Question: You provisionally qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships back in April, but because of the event that you run, you have not had an opportunity to compete in a lot of various meets this season. How do you remain motivated throughout the season in order to be at your peak in June?
Harrison: Keeping myself motivated isn’t really an issue, but I constantly remind myself what my goals coming into the season were and are. That helps me maintain the edge I need to train at a higher level.
Question: This is the second-straight year that you have been joined by Katie Read and Kara Scanlin at the championships, and you all run similar times. Is that a testament to your training together or how do you motivate each other?
Harrison: Each of us has been on very individual schedules this year and for many of the previous seasons due to various reasons. So our accomplishments have been a testament to our individual strengths. But, knowing that you have teammates who are following a similar path is always reassuring. I truly believe having three teammates qualified in the same event proves how well Coach (Jason) Dunn has handled each of us individually so that we each achieve our goals.
Question: What has your training been like for the past two months, knowing that you were preparing to compete against the nation’s best? Also, what is it like to prepare knowing that your event doesn’t have a qualifying race, simply the finals, so there is no chance to get pre-race jitters out?
Harrison: I wasn’t running for five weeks following the ACC championships, thus my training did not follow the ideal or normal routine. But knowing that I was still planning on racing at the NCAA championships kept me motivated each day to keep my fitness level as high as possible even though I was not running. Personally, I have been racing events that do not have trials and finals for most of my running career, so I do not depend on having a trials and enjoy having one race to focus on.
Question: Looking back on your collegiate career, you have become one of the most accomplished female athletes at Virginia. What performances and accolades are you most proud of? What was your biggest accomplishment?
Harrison: I am most proud of the progression of my cross country seasons, and I would say my biggest accomplishment was this fall when I finished sixth at the NCAA cross country nationals.
Question: Off the track, what do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any plans for next year yet?
Harrison: In my free time, I enjoy reading and relaxing. In the future, I hope to return to volunteering for the SPCA. Next year, I am remaining in Charlottesville to train post-collegiately, while working at Ragged Mountain Running Shop and gaining experience in the field of environmental science.