Mariah Castillo Reflects on Her Season and Career

1) What were your goals heading into NXN? What was your race plan?    
Heading into NXN my goal was to be in the top ten or just to be All-American. Coach (Rene Paragas) told me a couple times before the race to get out hard and then settle, relaxation is the key to run fast and to have short compact strides so I do not waste too much energy. 

2) When did you feel like you were moving up and getting closer to the leaders? What was your first reaction when you finished in 3rd place?    
Well, when I came through the mile I knew I wasn't that far off. So, I just kept my pace on the flat parts as well as the hills and pushed the downhills as hard as I can. Then when I was fighting for the third place spot, I just kept thinking to be relaxed and just not to wimp out. It was my last high school race and I wanted to go out with a bang. 

3) This past week, you ran a 4:46 mile time trial. What was your previous mile PR and how much added confidence did that give you heading into NXN?    
My previous PR was 4:51 and being able to PR last week was amazing but it made me a little worried that my legs were going to feel heavy during the race.

4) Looking back at your past season, what do you feel was your best race before NXN?    
I think all races are a learning experience. I do not think I had done amazing at any races before NXN. I think I have done well but I have a lot more to learn about racing and there is always room to improve. 

5) Where do you feel like you made the biggest jump during your high school career? What do you feel were the reasons for that jump?    
I don't think I have ever made a major jump in my high school career, I think that throughout the years, I was gradually moving forward like I should be. I slowly build up my mileage and ran more than I did before. 

6) When did you first start running and why? Did you play any other sports?    
I started running in middle school because I wanted to try every sport out so I can be voted Most Athletic for two years in a row. I played soccer for many years. I started at the age of 4 and stopped when I got to high school, to solely focus on running. 

7) Tell us about your coach Rene Paragas and how he has helped you get to your current level?    
Coach Paragas has taught me a lot about this sport and he saw potential in me my freshman year. He always pushed me to do my best in all aspects of this sport. I have got in trouble a little throughout my career for not doing what was told but it taught me to be a team player and to be willing to do whatever I have to so the team is successful. That the team is what is important and that my individual success will eventually come along with it. 

8) What does a typical training week look like for you? Typical weekly mileage? Longest run? Any morning runs? Strength work? Typical workouts?    
I actually do not know what my training is like. I do whatever coach tells me but I think my longest run was 80 mins. We do morning runs on Wednesday which are my favorite because of the weather and it helps me wake up for school. 

9) Favorite XC course? Favorite XC invitational? Favorite XC workout? Favorite long run? Favorite TF event? Favorite TF invitational? Favorite TF workout? Favorite Saugus tradition? Favorite free time activity?      
My favorite XC course is probably the old MT. Sac course. My favorite invite would be Woodbridge. My favorite XC workout is mile repeats. I do not have a favorite long run. Favorite TF event is the 1600. Favorite invite would be Arcadia. My favorite workout is 300 cutdowns. Favorite Saugus Tradition going to Big Bear for altitude training and favorite free time activity would be sleeping. 

10) Have you made your college decision yet? What were your looking for during your search for your next school?    
 I committed early to Texas Christian University. It has everything I wanted in a college and the team atmosphere is truly incredible. I am really looking forward to continuing my education and being able to improve as an athlete. 

11) What is your advice for a talented freshman girl with a goal of getting on the podium at NXN?    
Just to relax and be very confident in your training as well as everything that you have accomplished that season. Just to think of it as another race and another opportunity to run fast. If you put in the work and have the heart for it that it will all work out. 

12) Anything else you would like to add.    
I am just very thankful for everything that I have accomplished throughout my high school career and I couldn't have done it without my team, my family, friends, training partner Arjan Walia, and my coaches. They have brought the best out of me on and off the field and I am just so grateful. I can't wait to see what track has in store for me and my college career. 

Thank you very much for your time Mariah! AJC