Greenville's Caroline Lyerly: I am a very competitive person

How are you reflecting on the first part of the season as the season winds down?

As the season is winds down, I am reflecting on how I have accomplished more than I ever thought was possible. I think back on the countless workouts and training runs that I have poured my time and energy into since June and am reminded that it is my coaching and training that have allowed me to be successful thus far.

What do you hope to achieve the last few weeks of the season?

My goal for the rest of the season is just to keep doing what I have been doing so far: train, rest, and compete to the best of my ability. I am not sure what these last few meets will hold, but my goal is to put in the best effort I can give when it counts.

Do you have any post-season race plans?

After this cross country season is over, I am going to take a break from 5Ks and switch to some longer distance running before track season. I plan to race my first ever half marathon this December and am excited about trying a longer distance for the first time.

What goals do you have for track and field?

After having my freshman track season cancelled due to COVID-19, I still feel relatively new to track, lacking the experience that I have with cross country. However, I am excited to see what I can do this spring, and I'm hopeful that I can set new PRs and maybe a few school records.

How will you prepare prior to track and field season?

I will most likely start training for track in January, slowly starting to work in faster workouts with easier training runs. My main goal for the off season is to establish a good base, rest, and stay injury-free to ensure a smooth transition into the track training season.

What's the best type race scenario for you? How do you adapt?

My best race scenario is one where I go into it feeling confident and strong. When I get into a race, I have to maintain a positive, competitive mindset and find the strength to get through the tougher parts of the race.

How do you look at competition?

I am a very competitive person, so competition really helps me push myself to do my best. It is often more difficult to run PRs when I am running alone. Competition also makes racing more fun because it gives the run more of a tangible goal.

Tell us about your role on your team. How do you interact with teammates in this role?

I have had the honor to serve as co-team captain this season and it has been an amazing experience. I have been able to use my knowledge from my years of running cross country to help my teammates in a multitude of ways from setting a positive example, leading stretches, or helping a young runner tie their timing chip into their shoelaces for the first time. I feel so much more connected with the team as a whole and I am so thankful for every single runner on my team.

What has been your motivation this season?

As I stated before, I am a very competitive person, so my main motivation has been to continue to improve. I am rarely completely satisfied with my performance and am always looking towards the next PR or winning the next race. My teammates, coaches, and parents encourage me to be my best and are always supportive of me on and off the cross country course.

How do you look at your ranking in the state?

When I look at my ranking in the state (S.C. no. 1), it feels good but also temporary. I know that it does not mean I get to stop working hard because someone else will work harder. The season is not over, so I have to keep working hard and not get too comfortable.

What made you decide to run and why?

In sixth grade, I tried a variety of sports including tennis, volleyball, and soccer before realizing that I was terrible at all of them. It was clear that I was not very good at sports that required coordination. I grew up running 5Ks with my dad who is also a runner, so in seventh grade I was encouraged to try cross country. Before long, I fell in love with the sport and haven't looked back.

How have you seen the sport grow and yourself in the sport?

I specifically remember my first cross country practice in seventh grade and having to lie down on the ground, about to vomit after our half-mile warm up. From that day on, running got easier and easier. My times got faster the more work I put in, and I started taking running seriously. I understand that I have come a long way from that first practice in seventh grade, but each stage of my running experience has shaped me into the runner I am today and I hope to continue to grow as a runner and a leader on my team.

How was the pandemic impacted your perspective on life and the sport?

When the pandemic shut everything down in the spring of 2020, I had raced in one 1,600-meter run in track before my season came to an early close. However, I started filling my new free time with runs around my neighborhood during the pandemic. I fell even more in love with the sport and was able to use running as an escape from the stress of the pandemic and life. Additionally, it made me even more grateful for the ability to run with my teammates and even more appreciative of a team that supports each other as runners and as friends.