Arizona Cross Country Athlete Spotlight: Eryca Fawkes

Arizona College Prep's Eryca Fawkes is ranked #3 in Division III right now. She is also ranked at the #9 sophomore girl in all of Arizona, and #38/ ranked girl runner in Arizona overall.

Eryca took the time to answer some questions for us about herself and the season thus far - here are her responses:

What are your XC goals for this season?

My goals are to achieve a time under 19 minutes for the 5K along with helping my team succeed. I want to become a better runner.

What has been the strangest thing about training for XC during the pandemic?

There isn't anything I would say is strange, but the wave starting is a bit different than what I was used to as someone in a different wave may beat your time. However, I am adjusting well.

Who is your toughest competition?

My toughest competition is myself because it is mostly mental for me. If there is a person in front of me, I need to pull the strength within myself to beat them.

How are you liking racing in these waves at meets this season?

I like the waves when I am in a second wave rather than the starting wave because there are people everywhere there that motivate me to pass them. When I am in a starting wave, it's a bit more difficult because I have to mentally push myself to my time with no motivators along the way unless I make them up. For example, I could look up and see a pole and want to race to that pole at a faster pace and then continue when I see another object. However, when I am in the starting wave there are also no people that block the shorter ways on the path, even though the people motivate me. One time when I was in the second wave, I had to do many wide turns around corners rather than short tight turns which is a minuscule difference but it still adds up.

What is the biggest difference you in racing last year to this year?
I feel like I am more familiar with the courses and I am more confident. I will know when it's time to pick up my pace and empty out my tank, as my coach says. The difference with Covid is that we have to space out during core, wear masks while warming up, wave starting, less audience, and more factors.

Who is your biggest fan/supporter? How do he/she/they show you this support?

My mom and family are my biggest supporters because they make sure my team and I are taken care of. My mom always brings the team snacks and extra water and yells super loud.

My team and coaches are my other biggest supporters because they coach and cheer me and each other on. My team pushes each other to better ourselves. One of my coaches brings her toddler and runs with the stroller and she is amazing for taking the time out of her day to help out cross country team while being a busy mother. My other coach has been coaching me for years and always trains and prepares my team and I for success. Then, my other cross country coach helps out with everything along with making sure we are injury safe with stretching and seeing the physical trainers. I appreciate them.

How was your summer training affected by Covid this summer? What was similar from previous years? What was different about it?

I would have done the USATF track & field with Arizona Cheetahs Track Club, but I did not due to COVID. Instead, I trained by myself for most of the summer (doing 45-60 minutes running then 20-60 minutes YouTube workout videos by Chloe Ting daily) until my school had started summer training and I was already in shape for it. After that, I went to Anasazi Running Camp for my second time and my training and learning there were beneficial. I continued my school's preseason training after that until the actual cross country season started.

How long have you been running? What do you enjoy most about running/xc?

I have been running since kindergarten in the running club then started doing cross country and track in 6th grade. I enjoy that it keeps me healthy, motivated, and less stressed.

Is there a song, movie, show, or saying that motivates you or keeps you focused on your goals? If yes, what is it and why?

I don't really have a song, movie, show, or saying that motivates me to keep focused on my goals, I just continue to stay focused because I'm simply motivated to.

What's your pre-race meal?

I always make sure that I hydrate adequately before I run (days in advance) as well as eating a healthy dinner with plenty of carbohydrates the night before my race. At least an hour before my race, I typically eat this chocolate coconut almond Caveman paleo protein bar which tastes similar to an almond joy. I'm kind of picky with my protein bars and this is the only one I will eat.

Do you have any superstitions before the night of a race? (Any clothing you have to wear? Song you have to listen to? Food you need to eat? Etc.) If yes, how did this start?

I don't have any superstitions before the night of the race rather than going to bed earlier than usual.