An Interview with Apex High Cross Country Captain Mason Tilly

I sat down with Varsity Track and Cross Country Captain Mason Tilly for an interview. Mason is a fourth year senior on both teams, and has won multiple accolades for running. Mason spoke about his experiences as a runner, and gave some advice for newcomers to the sport. 

What are your hobbies and interests? What do you like to do in your free time?

My hobbies include running, obviously. I enjoy playing video games as well, like Fallen Order. I also enjoy spending time with my family and playing games with my siblings.

When did you first get involved with running? What did you think of it when you first started?

What events did you run then and what do you run now?

In Cross Country, you begin the season with 3K’s so you can adjust to longer distances from track. After two or three of those, you transition to 5K’s for the rest of the year. For Conference, Regional and State meets, I run 5K’s. 

For track, it depends on which team you’re running for. Say if you’re part of the mid-distance team, you’re going to run the 400m and 800m races. If you’re in distance, you’re going to run the 1600m (the mile), or the 3200m (the two mile). However, in track, it depends which track you’re talking about. The indoor track distances are 500m and 1000m, but 1600m and 3200m stay the same. 

Do you have any routines or rituals you use to get in the right headspace before a meet?

They kind of vary depending on the meet. Running is a very mental sport. If you’re in a negative mental attitude, the only way to go is down. You’re never going to improve off of a negative attitude. It depends a lot on your headspace. So before a race, we always run a mile to warm up, do active and static stretches. Those happen every time before a race; however depending on the day and meet I may be doing other things. Whether that’s listening to music, hanging out with the team or working on breathing and using other techniques to maintain calm and keep my nerves in check. Also, I always go to the bathroom before a race. You never want anything unsightly  to happen. It really varies on what the race is and where you’re at that day. 

Water or Gatorade?

After running, Gatorade. Before running, water. Blue Cherry only. 

Why does Cross Country have Pasta Parties?

The purpose of Pasta Parties is to carbohydrate load before your race and to build a sense of team unity and camaraderie. They typically take place at a senior’s house; however recently some Juniors and Sophomores have been hosting recently. Different people volunteer and sign up for a specific date on days right before a meet (usually a Tuesday or a Friday). The host family makes the pastas for everyone, and then others will bring bread, salads, drinks etc. We play fun games like cornhole and just hang out. 

When did you first get involved with running, and what did you think of it when you first started?

I first got involved with running at freshman orientation before the official start to freshman year. My dad had run cross country in high school, and he told me that I had to try it for two weeks in the summer at summer workouts, which started in June.

I started running Cross Country for those first two weeks, and I really enjoyed it, so I stuck with it. So then, there was the natural progression from Cross Country into Track. I personally enjoy Cross Country more; however Track is a great way to train for that, and I still enjoy the aerobic exercise. 

Do you have any advice for those interested in joining Track or Cross Country in the coming seasons?

Commit to the team. Running is a sport where how much you put in is how much you get out. The only way to get better is to train. This also applies to the team. The team becomes more fun with the more activities you participate in because you grow closer with your teammates. 

Check out Mason and all of our fantastic runners at the JDL Indoor Track meet on Friday at five o’clock. If you’re interested in running, or just want some more information, the Outdoor Track and Field Parent Meeting will be taking place February 25, at 7:30 in the cafeteria. 

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