On Sept. 15, Mills invited all students to participate in the Mills Cross Country Invitational, where runners were given the opportunity to run alongside members of the team.
It was here Freshwoman Theresa Soares first started running cross country at Mills as an “unattached runner” while trying to find extra curricular activities to participate in as a fresh addition to the Mills community.
“I wasn’t on the team yet, but decided to participate in the meet for fun after reading an email that said Mills students could register for free,” Soares said. “I was so impressed, encouraged, and motivated by the race and the community that I decided to contact head coach Cindy Olavarri about joining the team.”
After becoming an official member of the Mills Cross Country Team, Soares showed a drastic improvement in her overall running time.
“Racing in only her second cross country meet (her first as a Mills Cross Country Team member),Theresa Soares knocked seven minutes off of her best 6K time at the Chrystal Springs Invitational,” Coach Cindy Olavarri said. “On a hot, dusty and very hilly course, she pushed herself to a fine performance.”
Through facing courses and trails, Soares explained the importance of adequately physically preparing herself to endure the runs.
“Getting to the finish line is all I think about,” Soares said. “A combination of our 6 a.m. workouts and a high protein low carb diet with plenty of water helps.”
Soares also shared that over the course of the summer she exercised every day with a personal trainer and made drastic lifestyle changes, which resulted in a remarkable amount of weight loss.
“My number one motivator is knowing that my body is in many ways like it’s own little country and I’m its ruler,” she said. “When I’m running a race, or making decisions about what to put on my plate, I try and remind myself that the one thing I can control is my body.”
Some of Soares secrets to maintaining positive control over her body include staying away from the scale.
“For me, my indicator is feeling good,” she said. “I typically eat four small meals a day that are high in protein and contain little to no carbs. I also avoid caffeine before and after a workout, replacing it with a lot of water, green tea, and coconut. I think about nourishing my body with physical fitness, and accessorizing it with food.”
Along with the support and strength Soares creates within herself through her dedication to physical wellness, she also finds an equal amount of support from Olavarri and her teammates.
“My favorite things about running Cross Country are my coach and my team,” Soares said. “The running community in general is such a healthy and motivating environment to be around. I love hitting the trails before sunrise. Yeah, we go to school and live in the city, but no one but the Mills Cross Country Team is on the trails in Redwood Regional Park at 6:18 a.m.”
Soares said running the Mills Invitational simply for fun was one of the best decisions she has made.
“It provided me with a huge moral boost for as far as school spirit is concerned,” she said.
“The event was well organized and the community of volunteers was both strong and encouraging to have. I have been so fortunate enough to have the greatest encouragement from my coach, and my team.”