The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Competing is gold enough

By Hope Sandusky/nw news editor

NW research analyst Elizabeth Northern prepares for 2016 Olympic Trials

At some dark hour of the morning, when most people are asleep, Elizabeth Northern can be found with her crew going on a run through Fort Worth.

Elizabeth Northern regularly runs around TR Campus. Her goal for the Olympic Trials came after breaking the course record in the 2013 Fort Worth Cowtown Marathon, where she was only three minutes away from qualifying.  Photo by Erik Marroquin/The Collegian
Elizabeth Northern regularly runs around TR Campus. Her goal for the Olympic Trials came after breaking the course record in the 2013 Fort Worth Cowtown Marathon, where she was only three minutes away from qualifying.
Photo by Erik Marroquin/The Collegian

When it comes to any hard task, the first five or 10 minutes of doing it are usually the most uncomfortable. If that task is at 4 a.m., it becomes even more uncomfortable.

“The first thing to do when running is to push through that little bit of doubt and that uncomfortable feeling that happens in the first couple of minutes,” Northern said. “Once you can get through that, you can zone out and just run.”

An expert on the subject of pushing through pain, Northern is a Title III research analyst for TCC’s Office of Institutional Intelligence and Research and, most recently, a 2016 Olympic Trials qualifier for the marathon.

Running competitively since 2005, she grew up in Fort Worth and went to Nolan Catholic High School, running two seasons of cross-country, which first sparked her interest.

It wasn’t until she walked on to the team at Trinity University that her running career began to take off.

“I was surrounded by a great coaching staff and team, and the more I ran, the better I became,” she said. “Before I knew it, I was qualifying for nationals and, from there, just kept going.”

Before running, Northern was a dancer by trade. Her mother Nancy Eder said her daughter used to dance everywhere she went.

“At the store, on the sidewalk, she was in constant motion,” she said. “You can see it translate into her running. She seems to run gracefully and with such ease.”

Qualifying for the Olympic Trials never came to Northern’s mind until running in the 2013 Cowtown Marathon.

Prior to the marathon, Northern had some personal issues occur and wasn’t trained as well as she wanted.

Despite that, she ran it in a course record of two hours , 46 minutes. The qualifying time for the Olympic Trials needed to be two hours, 43 minutes.

“I realized that if I put in real training, I could probably make it,” she said.

Preparation for a race begins four to five months in advance for Northern. She starts running for solid mileage every day to get her legs stronger. Eight to 10 weeks out, she begins adding outside workouts and focuses on speed with longer runs. She also uses a benchmark race to see where she stands with training and what she needs to tweak.

The 2013 Chicago Marathon proved to be her moment. Her husband Will Northern described the race as surreal.

“There were so many people competing. It was mind-boggling,” he said. “I recall continually checking text updates as she would cross mile marks and comparing that to the pace necessary to finish under the timeline. She was close, but she made it and had her family and I jumping up and down and yelling when the final update came through with her qualifying time.”

The trials allow Northern to compete against women of the same caliber.

“In these national races like the Trials, you’re running shoulder to shoulder with these incredible women, she said. “Sometimes at these smaller races, it’s like running in no-man’s land when you’re at the front, but when you’re running with a pack shoulder to shoulder, it pushes you.”

The Olympic Trials will take place in Los Angeles in February. She knows when the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro take place, she probably will not be on the team. Ultimately, her goal for the Trials is simply to finish the race.

“My goal is to not finish last,” she said. “I won’t make the team, but if I finish in the top half of the field, that would be good.”

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