Take Five Scholar Frank Ramirez, a native of Woodland Hills, Calif., has come a long way as a distance runner since he first moved east. A consistent member of the cross country team’s top five, Ramirez led UR to a win at the Yellowjacket Invitational, placing third overall in 26:26 — a solid time, considering he trudged through foot-deep puddles on the eight-kilometer course located in a mud-strewn Genesee Valley Park. Ramirez hopes to continue his success as he and the Yellowjackets prepare to take on the state’s and region’s best teams in the coming postseason.
What is your major?
I am a Spanish and biology double major. I’m also doing a Take Five in religion.
Why did you decide to attend UR?
I decided to attend UR because it was the complete opposite from my home in Southern California. People always look at me [like I’m] crazy, but this change has been so much fun and has made me appreciate my home much more.
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
Right before they fire the gun to start the race, I say to myself, “When there is nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.” This is just one last reminder to myself to give everything I have to cross the finish line, no matter how much pain I feel during the race.
You’re known for having a great final sprint at the end of your races. How do you find the drive to push the pace after running hard for almost five miles?
I’m not going to lie: Over four miles into the race, the only thing I want to do is stop running and end the misery. But the thought of possibly letting down my team drives me to use every last drop of energy I have to pass as many people as possible. I just close my eyes and dig deep because every point matters.
You showed tremendous improvement between your sophomore and senior years. What can you attribute this change to?
After taking a season off to study abroad in Spain my junior year, I came back completely refreshed and ready to start racing. Half of running is mental and after giving myself a break from running competitively, I came back feeling stronger and ready to compete at the highest level possible. Physically, I consciously made the smart decision to not overtrain my body so that I would be ready to give my full effort race day.
Who has had the greatest impact on your running career?
My dad has had the greatest influence. If it weren’t for him pushing me to keep running when I was younger, I wouldn’t be racing today. The thought of his voice yelling at me to start my final kick in the last 150 meters of any race always runs through my head during a race.
What do you like most about long road trips to cross-country meets?
I love spending quality time with my team. No matter what, we have the best time possible traveling together. These long trips also help me deal with being nervous before a race — being with my team prepares me mentally.
And what do you dislike the most about them?
Sitting in a car or bus for hours and hours can take its toll on my body, especially after racing.
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2014.