First-year Liz Stern made a place for herself as a lead runner on the Carnegie Mellon cross country team. Winning the home invitational and as the team front runner at the Oberlin College Inter-Regional Rumble, Stern looks to keep up her success as the Tartans head into the last leg of their season with conference and national championships ahead. Last week, Stern shared aspects of her collegiate and running career with The Tartan.

Tartan: What is your favorite part about running cross country at Carnegie Mellon?
Stern: Definitely being able to run and train with a group of girls who are so genuinely kind, supportive, inclusive, and non-judgmental. There is truly a good collaboration between coach and athlete to find the perfect balance of competitive and relaxed running. We have beautiful trails in both Schenley and Frick Park to run on, so we can really get into the cross country running-in-the-woods mentality.

T: What keeps you motivated while you are running a tough course?
S: I am always motivated by the responsibility I have to my team — to do my best and persevere. Sometimes, I try to get a song in my head that corresponds to my running pace, and that keeps me going too. During the race, I try to tell myself that no matter how I feel, there’s a very good chance that everyone else is feeling similarly. If I’m getting tired, I’m probably not the only one.

T: What part of Pittsburgh or campus interests you the most that you have not had a chance to explore yet?
S: Definitely all of the museums that Pittsburgh is famous for. My goal is to visit as many as I can before the end of the year! I would also like to go up the incline, which I haven’t had a chance to do yet, and I plan on going to some of the Pittsburgh Symphony concerts as well.

T: Which season of the year is your favorite and why?
S: My favorite season of the year is autumn. I love watching the leaves change color, and where I live, the foliage is always beautiful this time of year. Also, autumn for me always means cross country season, and there is something very inspirational and motivating about running in an environment surrounded by nature’s utmost beauty.

T: Is there anything that you are really looking forward to during your academic or athletic career at Carnegie Mellon?
S: The main thing I am looking forward to is being a good role model as I get older for incoming students. On the cross country team, the captains and more experienced girls have really made all the difference in making the transition to life at Carnegie Mellon comfortable. Knowing that there is always someone to ask questions about things you don’t understand or to talk to you about what they have been through in their Carnegie Mellon careers so far has been so helpful to me, and I really hope that I will be able to do the same for others!

T: What has Carnegie Mellon been able to offer you along with academics and cross country?
S: My passion is the flute, and at Carnegie Mellon, my dream of becoming a flutist is finally beginning to come true. My teachers are two of the most inspirational and intelligent people I have ever met, and they are helping me take my playing to the next level. I think it is really important in life to have a good balance, and for me, running and playing the flute complement each other.