Last year Emily Bryson became just the fifth woman in Brandeis history to win multiple All-America honors in cross country when she finished 24th overall at the NCAA Division 3 Championships in Louisville. The Quincy resident’s quest to become a three-time All American got off to a good start this season when she finished second out of 299 runners at the UMass Dartmouth Shriners Invitational.
The junior clocked a time of 18:03 over the 5-kilometer course, just nine seconds off the winning pace. Bryson’s twin sister, Julia, was eighth overall at the meet with a time of 18:47.
Emily and Julia Bryson both had stellar track careers at North Quincy High. The Dartmouth finish earned Emily Bryson Runner of the Week honors in the University Athletic Association, her ninth career award (six in cross country, three in track). As a sophomore, Emily finished second in her mile heat to qualify for the finals, but finished ninth and missed All-America honors by 0.4 seconds. She also placed 14th in the 3,000-meter run.
Q. What is your goal for this season? Are you aiming for a third All America mention?
A. Just to get to the post-season in the best shape possible, and be as competitive as I can be at UAAs, regionals, and nationals. I definitely have my sights set on a third All America honor and would love to be top 10 at nationals as well. I also think our team has a lot of potential this season to do some really amazing things. The main goal, though, is just to enjoy myself this season and have fun competing and training with my teammates.
Q. What’s a typical training week for you?
A. My training usually includes about 50-60 miles a week, with a little over 60 miles being my max. A typical week usually includes two workouts, either being repeat intervals or a tempo, a long run, and then a series of regular training runs ranging from 5 to 8 miles. Usually I’ll also have a couple double sessions a week, where I have two runs on the same day.
Q. What is the furthest distance you’ve run?
A. Twelve miles, which is the typical distance my coach assigns me to run for my weekly long run.
Q. Talk about your relationship with your twin sister, Julia, and the opportunity to run with her in college.
A. Julia and I are extremely close and share quite a unique and supportive bond, considering that we’ve pretty much been doing all of our runs together since we were little. There’s no one else that shares my same passion, drive, and love of running than my sister. Over the years, she has been my biggest supporter even when we’re not racing together. We’re both naturally ambitious people, yet have never been competitive with one another. Instead, we just focus on pushing and motivating the other to work harder.
Q. When did you start running?
A. When I was 5 years old as a member of the Quincy Track Club. I continued to run cross country and track in middle school and through high school. Geoff Hennessy was my coach from when I started running at 5 through all of high school. He really helped me discover my passion for running and gave my sister and I the training and support we needed heading into collegiate running.
Q. Do you have a most memorable race?
A. One of the races that sticks with me most was winning the UAA cross country championship my freshman year at our home course at Franklin Park. Going into the race, I thought I had absolutely no chance of winning, but was able to lean the leader out at the finish line. It’s one of those races I’ll never forget, since the win was so unexpected and because it was so special to get to do it on my home course.
Q. What do you do to prepare for a race?
A. I’ll do a 20-minute warm-up with my team, followed by a series of dynamic stretches five strides out from the starting line, and then will usually read an inspirational quote to keep in my head during the race. My favorite prerace ritual, though, before a cross country race is the team huddle. We always do it a few minutes before the race and it’s always exactly what I need to get me excited to race.
Q. Favorite meal?
A. A pasta dish with sausage that my dad [Jim] made for me before all of my races in high school, and that I was convinced I needed to have before all my races or I wouldn’t run well.
Q. Do you have a favorite cross country trail?
A. Franklin Park. I have been racing on this course since I was in middle school, so it definitely holds some special memories for me. It’s also a quintessential cross country course with the perfect mix of hills, flat terrain, grass, and trails.
John Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.