This week, TSL sat down with Ben Girodias PO ’15, a physics major from Cary, N.C. and the top runner on the Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross country team. Last weekend at the University of California, Riverside Invitational, his eight-kilometer finish time was 24:54, the third-fastest time on that course in P-P history. Below, Girodias describes his favorite runs in California, P-P’s success at NCAA West Regionals last year, the uniqueness of this year’s team, and his pre-race routines.
TSL: When did you start running? Did you ever play other sports?
Ben Girodias: Yeah, I played soccer. Sophomore spring, I did track in addition to soccer, and then I found that I just liked running more. My sister did cross country and was like, “Oh, you should try track.” And I said OK, I’ll try it, and then I liked it.
TSL: What is the highest mileage week you’ve ever run?
BG: I think 113 miles.
TSL: What’s the longest single run you’ve done?
BG: 21 miles.
TSL: What are the best runs you’ve been on?
BG: Last year for fall break, I was with [Alex] Johann [PO ‘14] visiting a friend he had at UC Santa Barbara, and it was a run by the beach that was kind of cool, like on boardwalks. I liked that. I also like Ridge a lot. I always like being up there. It sucks getting up there, but then it’s really nice.
TSL: Describe what “Ridge” is for those who don’t know.
BG: Run to the Claremont [Hills] Wilderness Park, go up and do the five-mile loop, and then come back down. I think it’s 11 [miles] total.
TSL: Did you have a favorite run at home?
BG: Yeah, we would run at Bond Park, which is just a local park. From my house, I think it’s three miles away. So when I go back, I go from my house, run there, do a few loops, and come back. This isn’t really necessarily close to my house, but I once visited my sister at Appalachian State University [in North Carolina], and running in Boone is pretty nice. It’s like cool mountain breeze.
TSL: What has been your most memorable achievement running for P-P?
BG: Regionals last year, getting second place and knowing we were going to Nationals. I don’t think the team as a whole has been that ecstatic in one moment together. We were just running around yelling, “Wooooo! We made it!”
TSL: How about a most memorable personal achievement?
BG: I think the 10k last track season, the 31:07. I liked it because it was one of the first 10ks I felt like I was racing, not just trying to hold on. I felt like I was actually thinking, “OK, here I am, fifth place, alright, here we go, let’s go.” I liked that the most, because it was kind of like a turning point where I felt like, “OK, now I’m actually racing.” It was a good feeling.
TSL: Was it a goal of yours to run under 25 minutes in the 8k this season? Did you expect it to happen so early in the season?
BG: I did it before—I ran 24:51 last Regionals, but that course is a grass track. I expected to be able to run sub-25, and I was not necessarily sure what [time] specifically, but I felt like that was something that was very within reach. I definitely feel much more fit than last year, but I think I settled a bit too much in the fifth mile. I’m happy with it, but I’m not satisfied.
TSL: What are your other goals for this season?
BG: I want to be in the top three spots for Regionals, and I want to go for All-American at Nationals.
TSL: What’s unique about this year’s team versus the past couple years?
BG: One is that we are younger. It’s me, Johann, Pryor [Stroud PO ‘15], and then the rest of our top seven, top eight, top nine, even, are sophomores and freshmen. So it’s definitely a younger team. I feel like it’s moving in the direction of a championship team. Last year, we wanted to get to Nationals, like it was something we had to work really hard to get to. I think this year it’s not a goal to get there—it’s to place well there. So I think that kind of change of mentality is good.
TSL: Tell me what you do before a race—any rituals, food you like to eat, et cetera.
BG: We do this pretty routine shakeout run, come back, eat breakfast—I have a cup of coffee, half a banana, a bagel—bus ride there, relax, visualize what’s going to happen. We get ready, warm up, stretch out, get a few strides in, and then it’s race time.
TSL: Is there anything else you want people to know?
BG: Stay tuned with the cross country team. It’s going to do some great things by the end of the season.