Sept. 16, 2011
By Eric Trainer and Bonnie Jendrek, UT Athletic Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Chris Bodary is a senior cross country runner from Downingtown, Pa., who turned in a runner-up finish in a personal-best time of 15:26.93 at the 5K Belmont-VU Opener on Sept. 2. It marked the first time in his collegiate career that he had paced Tennessee, but it was the seventh-straight meet and 13th time overall that he had factored into the Big Orange's scoring total.
On Saturday, he will lead the Volunteers into battle vs. Kentucky at the Tennessee Invitational in Maryville. Race time for the UT men is 9 a.m. Eastern time on the 8000-meter trail at Lambert Acres Golf Club.
1. At what age did you decide that you wanted to run competitively?
CB: "Around seventh or eighth grade. My dad encouraged me to try a lot of sports when I was younger, and it was one of those things where he was like, `You know, I run, you ought to try this out.' I just knew I loved to do it. I knew I liked to compete and win, and running fast was fun, so I liked it and stuck with it."
2. Do you have any pre-race superstitions or rituals?
CB: "I wouldn't call them superstitions or rituals. I have the usual routine stuff that you do, like an ice bath and foam roll, and different things to recover, but not any superstitions - no lucky underwear or T-shirt I sleep in the night before. No voodoo (laughs)."
3. Do you have a favorite pre-race meal?
CB: "A lot of people like to carb load, so they go for pasta. Angel hair pasta is my favorite meal to eat anyway, so I that's what I have. It's not just because it's a carb load thing, but it's because it is my favorite thing to eat. That's easy."
4. If you listen to music, what is your pre-race go-to artist or group?
CB: "It could be anything. It depends on the mood, really. I'm not trying to get amped up in the same way every time. If I'm in a mellow mood, I'll listen to John Mayer or Dave Matthews. If I'm trying to feel amped, I'll listen to Avenged Sevenfold or Linkin Park. Sometimes, if I'm in the mood, I'll listen to T.I. or Eminem or something like that. It all depends on the mood. I can't choose the mood, the mood chooses me."
5. What is the most difficult part of a cross country race for you?
CB: "Probably the start, because I just hate the idea of 300 people in a line in a five to six mile race and we're all going to sprint 400 meters and then try to settle into a pace. It's the worst thing (laughs). `Alright, we're going to have to sprint really fast and my legs are going to hurt, and then I have to settle in for the next five miles.' It's crazy that you have five miles to run, but you sprint the first quarter. Your legs start hurting and then you have to think about the other 90% of the race."
6. What is your favorite course you've run (ever/as a UT runner)?
CB: "Back in high school, we used to run on Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia, at a meet called Briarwood, and I just ran well there, and it was kind of fun, the way it was set up. It had the hill called Parachute Hill, and everyone knew what it was."
7. How tough is the Lambert Acres Course to run?
CB: "I was going to say Lambert Acres is the toughest course. J.J. was talking about how he was going to change the course up a little bit and take out the hill that goes up to the clubhouse, so it will be a lot easier. The course is what it is. You can't change the course. Either way, you have to deal with it, but I've had my fair share of bad memories on that course. That doesn't mean that in the future, like at the SECs this year, are going to go badly, just because I've had bad races there before."
8. What kinds of things go through your mind as you are in the midst of a race?
CB: "Some races it comes easy, and it just happens, and you don't even have to think, and you run well. Other times, when you're hurting really bad, you have to think of these little tricks. Dr. (Joe) Whitney, the sports psychologist, helped me out a lot with that. It's just different things, like make it to this tree or that point, or if you're racing in a pack of guys and you're trying to get in the top 20 in a race, you think, `run with this pack to here.' Just so you don't think, `oh my God, I have three more miles to run with these guys,' you break it up into little chunks. If you're fighting for first place, you think, `okay, well, beat this guy to this mile marker or beat this guy to that K,' and then you don't have to think about how you'll last with all that pain and battling with this guy over the next couple of miles. You just break it down into smaller sections, basically."
9. How do you prepare yourself to handle situation where weather is a factor, such as rain, cold, heat, muddy course, etc.?
CB: "If it's heat, you hydrate more. With weather, there's nothing you can do. And it's the same for everybody, so there's no real reason to worry about it. Ideal conditions, for cross country, you don't want it to be too hot. You want like, 60s, and I don't like winds, so no wind is cool."
10. Are there aspects of cross country that you prefer over running on the track?
CB: "Overall, I like track better, but cross country is really cool because there's no heats in cross country. Cross country is one and done. They call cross country the pure sport because there are no splits or rules. It's like, everybody is going to race from this point to this point, and whoever gets there first is the winner. I think that's pretty cool. There are no worries about anything except winning, so it is pretty fun."
11. What's your favorite sport to play or watch (other than track and field or cross country), and why?
CB: "It would be basketball or hockey, because I played basketball when I was younger. I never played hockey. It would have to be one of those, just because I enjoy how the sport is set up. It's a lot of fast-paced moving. I like the way the game is played."
12. What is your favorite place to hang out on campus?
CB: "On campus, definitely the track. I don't hang out on campus much. If I have free time, I'm on the couch in my living room. I love watching movies. Any movies, whatever is on FOX or USA. My roommate and I have this huge movie bookshelf that's got a lot of stuff on there."
13. Who are some athletes you've admired?
CB: "This is a tricky one. I really don't know. I can't think of anybody who stands out. I like to watch some guys race, but I don't follow anyone that intensely and hope they win. When I was growing up, I was into Steve Prefontaine. I watched the movies. I liked Without Limits, and I tried to run like that. I liked watching Alan Iverson play. He's my favorite basketball player, just because it's exciting to watch him play. He does crazy stuff."
14. How does it feel to put on that orange uniform and represent the Tennessee Volunteers?
CB: "It's awesome. There's no other word for it. It's just awesome. You know that there's so much history. I usually don't think of people nowadays who wear it. I think of people who wore it in the past, and I feel like they never ever forget who's running now, and they're always behind you and they really want you to run well because you run for Tennessee. There's a lot of passion in the past and the tradition."
15. What's the one thing you can't live without?
CB: "Music, for sure. I have to have some kind of noise or sound or something like that. I'm not a silence guy. I listen to music on campus when I remember to charge my iPod."
16. How have you and your teammates adapted to having Coach Clark as your leader this season?
CB: "It's been a great adaptation. Everybody is having a good time. They really seem to have a lot of faith and excitement about what's to come and how we're going to be doing later on. None of us are really happy with the last meet. Some of us feel like we lost to some teams that we shouldn't have lost to, and we all thought we could win that meet. We're all ready for getting on to the later parts of the year, because I feel like we are all going to be running a lot faster. I think we all know that. None of us are talking about rankings or where they are or where they think they'll be or anything like that. We just know that we're going in the right direction and we have no complaints because we're doing the right thing.
"I can definitely see the changes from the effort we've put in. J.J. puts us into groups for our work out and the groups get stronger, and we keep adding people into the faster groups. We haven't moved anyone from the faster groups to the slower groups, so they get stronger and we're able to stay together longer and run faster times. We're progressing together."
17. How is the team chemistry coming along thus far?
CB: "It's awesome. There's a great group of new guys who, generally, really do want to work pretty hard and do have high goals of doing impressive things. That's kind of the general idea of everyone on the team right now. No one on the team wants to come to practice just to go, `Yeah, I'm just here for the gear.' We're all into it."
18. How does it feel to start the season as not only the team leader, but earning second place at the first meet, the Belmont-VU Opener?
CB: "It felt good to lead the team and place well overall. It's a bit sour, because I could see the guy right there, and then seeing who was coming through the chute and figuring out which team was second, who was third. But for myself, I went into the race thinking, `This is the first race of the year. I could get tenth overall. I could get tenth for the team. I could win the race. I'm not going to try to base any goals off of the first race.' I was just going to run hard and competitively. I didn't have any expectations."
19. What are your goals as you head into Saturday's Tennessee Invitational?
CB: "Personally, try to win it. For us, try to win the race. I imagine that's everyone's goal. It would be cool to have a rematch against them. It will be fun to match up against their guys and try to beat them on our own course."
20. How much do fans impact your performance at a home cross country meet, such as this weekend's? Do you notice them?
CB: "It definitely gives you encouragement. It makes you feel good. You're not just out there, especially at a small meet like this, with just a few people out there, and only the 30 guys on the course. When there are people there and they know you, that makes it pretty fun. There's extra energy.