Editor's Note: Throughout the 2012 indoor and outdoor seasons, we will interview a Spider Track & Field athlete each week and have them answer a set of 20 questions about their lives both in and out of the sport. This week we sit down with sophomore Ryan Lee.
RichmondSpiders.com (RS): In your mind, what sets Richmond XC/Track & Field apart from other programs?
Ryan Lee (RL): The emphasis our program puts on building all-around student-athletes, whether it be academic or athletic excellence or involvement with the community, is what sets the Richmond XC/Track and Field programs apart from others.
RS: Of all your teammates, past and present, from whom have you learned the most and why?
RL: Of my past teammates, I have to say that all four seniors last year (Tim Quinn, Jon Wilson, Matt Llano and Andrew Benford) really taught me about the dedication it takes to be a successful Division I athlete and to really enjoy it. Of my present teammates, I would say Chris York. He and I are training partners, and our personalities play off each other really well both on and off the track.
RS: Which of the three running seasons do you enjoy most? Why?
RL: I enjoy cross country for the team aspect, but I also love chasing fast times outdoors. I don't like indoor track too much.
RS: With the outdoor season now upon us, what kinds of goals have you set for the spring?
RL: My main goal is to win the 5k at the A-10 Outdoor Championship. A very close second is to qualify for the regional meet, which means I will have to run around 14:10 for the 5k this season.
RS: Do you have any pre-meet rituals?
RL: I always put my right sock on first, followed by my left sock, right shoe and lastly my left shoe. It definitely makes a difference.
RS: What is the strangest thing that you've seen happen during a race?
RL: At the World Mountain Running Championships, spectators were chasing me up the mountain with cowbells.
RS: You've noted that running at last year's USA Track & Field Nationals has been your most memorable moment in the sport. Can you speak a little bit more about your experience out in Eugene?
RL: Going to Eugene, Ore., for USA's last summer was an amazing experience and opportunity. The atmosphere was like nothing I had ever experienced before given that all of the professionals were racing the same weekend to qualify for Worlds. Aside from the race at Hayward Field, which was obviously a great opportunity, we were able to drive out and go on some amazing runs in some of Oregon's great parks. The long run I did with Molz and Benford the day after my race was without a doubt the best run of my life. I was able to spend almost an entire week there with the Taylors, Coach Molz, Andrew and Nicole. Having this whole group there made it that much better, and I definitely plan on making a trip back out to race again.
RS: What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever received in the sport?
RL: To not worry about who I am competing against and be confident in what I have done. In high school, I would look up everyone's PRs who I was racing beforehand and see where I should be. In the NCAA it's very easy to look at what everyone in your race has run, and if you let that psych you out before the race you've already lost an edge. Now I focus much more on my own training, doing all the small things right and knowing when I get to the line I can be confident in what I have done so I don't have to worry about anything else. I learned a lot of this from rooming with Matt Llano on our trips to races last year.
RS: Who are your role models both in and out of the sport?
RL: In the sport, my high school teammate Dillon Buckley who now runs at Amherst College. He taught me a lot, has always helped me out throughout my career and has been someone who I've looked up to. Out of the sport, my mom is my role model.
RS: If your teammates gave you a superlative, what would it be?
RL: Last year I think I got "Best Hair", but that was back when it was a bit longer, so I'm not sure what it would be now.
RS: If you could go on a run with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Why?
RL: I would go on a run with Coach Taylor back when he was running professionally (assuming I could keep up). I've heard some pretty great stories...
RS: What's been your favorite class on campus? Favorite professor?
RL: I am a Biology and Leadership Studies double major. I would love to be an orthopedic surgeon, specifically working with elite athletes.
RS: What is your major and dream job?
RL: Leadership 102 with Dr. Goethals. The class convinced me to add Leadership Studies as a major because of how much I loved the class. Dr. Goethals is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about leadership. Plus, he is a runner.
RS: Where is your favorite spot on campus? Why?
RL: Gottwald. It's a great place to study and has great couches for sleeping between classes.
RS: Who is your favorite athlete? What characteristics do they embody that you find so intriguing?
RL: Lebron James, mainly because Kyle Ragan hates him so much.
RS: What is your favorite pro sports team?
RL: Any Philadelphia team and the Heat because Kyle Ragan hates them, too.
RS: If you could walk into a room and have any song play, what would it be?
Walks" by Kanye West (just kidding). Probably "Sleepyhead" by Passion Pit.
RS: Let's say you could have the perfect meal prepared for you. What would it be?
RL: I could go on for days about how much I love food, but one meal would have to be this baked chicken with pasta and peppers dish my mom makes when I'm home.
RS: You've mentioned that you love the outdoors. Any funny or interesting stories from your outdoor excursions that you can share?
RL: Most of my passion for the outdoors comes from running. There's really nothing like going on a great run, such as when we were in Oregon and not really knowing where you are or how long you planned on running, but just enjoying the moment. One hiccup I did have was right before sophomore year on a run at a local park. I must have stepped on a rock the wrong way because I broke my growth plate, a bone in my ankle and had to hop on one leg/limp my way back to the parking lot two miles away. I didn't exactly love the outdoors at that point.
RS: What's something interesting about you that most people don't know?
RL: I wanted to play tennis in college until sophomore year of high school and didn't want to run in college until senior year.