Sept. 3, 2009
BY CHRIS WHITEUTLadyVols.com
Jackie Areson is a senior distance runner on both the Women's Track and Cross Country teams. As her season begins in earnest this Friday in Nashville, Jackie took a little time before practice to sit down for a Q&A.
Last year you qualified for the NCAA Individual Championships. How did that experience influence you and how has it helped you prepare for this year?
"I qualified individually for cross country. I wished our team could go, but qualifying individually really helped me realize that I was at least in the top 100 in the country and that I should be up there, and that I was a real distance runner, not just a half distance runner. I didn't qualify indoor, but I did qualify outdoor for track and that was a real confidence booster too because a lot less people qualify for track. It just made me realize I was getting better and better."
What are your goals for this year?
"I realized that I really am a distance runner. I just always thought I was good at it, but I was more of a miler. But now I'm realizing that I am a 5K runner, and I'm really liking it now. I'm really excited about this season. My main goal is to get All-American at Nationals."
Do you do any superstitious procedures, rites, rituals or any sort of thing like that before you run?
"Not really, I used to kind of be like that in high school, but not really in that regard. I do like to wear the same socks, or the same couple pairs of socks for races. I don't know if that's because I always get used to wearing them or if they're the most comfortable and won't give me blisters. I had to stop wearing a few of them because cross country gets muddy and they get ruined."
You're from Florida, you were recruited by Florida, and yet you came to Tennessee. What made you choose the Lady Vols over the Gators?
"I really was familiar with Florida. That's mainly the reason I took a visit there and was considering it because it was close to home. We had all of our state meets in Gainesville, so I ran there a few times a year and knew the coach there really well. He was nice; he was more of a friend. That's mainly why I looked at it but as soon as I came here I knew this program was superior to Florida's."
You major is Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. What made you decide on that and what do you want to do with it when you graduate?
"I really love animals. I want to go to grad school for zoology or wildlife conservation. I want to work with big mammals. It could even be marine mammals like whales or big cats like tigers or lions."
Who or what is the biggest influence in your life?
"My high school coach wasn't just a high school coach. He is an athletic trainer and a physical therapist and he is like a dad to me. I still talk to him every week and he still helps me with everything I do. He pretty much influenced my running right from the start. I've known him since I was a freshman in high school so he is really special to me."
You lived in Hong Kong during your childhood. What was it like growing up there?
"I was born there and lived there for ten years. It's not very much different (from the United States). It was a British colony so it was more British than American. I used to have an English accent when I moved here. It's more like living in England than in China. I went back a couple of years ago and it's really different now. It's much more Chinese. Everyone used to speak English, but now it's more Chinese."
How is your Chinese?
"I don't know anything. I used to be able to count to ten, but that's it. I don't know any really."
For the food lovers: Chinese Chinese food or American Chinese food?
"American Chinese food. Chinese Chinese food is really disgusting. It's like fish heads and unimaginable stuff. You don't even know what it is.
No good old General Tso's Chicken?
Nope, they wouldn't even know what that is (smiles).