For Irene Schmid, a senior cross country member, running began at home.  “My parents have always been very active. I think I ran/walked my first race when I was four, but I started running competitively 10 years ago when I was in 7th grade. My parents told me that if I ran cross country, I could get a cat. The cat died long ago, but I’m still running, so I guess it was a good trade off,” she said.

Her decision to come to Goshen College was also rooted in her home life. “GC was basically the go-to choice for me. Many of my family members came here and I have a lot of family in the area. I was also raised Mennonite, which was a big draw here, along with the great nursing program,” she said. She is currently in the final year of the nursing program.

On the cross country course, Schmid has enjoyed great success.  In her first year as a collegiate athlete, she finished as high as third three times and recorded a season best 5K time of 20 minutes, 51 seconds.  In her sophomore year, her success continued as she ran in all five meets; breaking 22 minutes in all three 5Ks. She recorded a personal-record 20 minutes, 45 seconds at the Great Lakes Invitational while finishing third on the team.

Unfortunately, after that she encountered an obstacle that she must work against every day.  “I have been struggling with chronic shin splints for the past two and a half years,” she said. “Currently, I’m still learning how to run through the pain and manage the pain when I’m not running. I’m also learning to fight the mental battle that comes with physical injuries such as when to keep running, and when to take a day off. There really is no healing process, just learning to work with the injury and taking lots of Ibuprofen in the process.”

Along with the Ibuprofen, Schmid has benefited from her teammates’ and coaches’ support and understanding that when dealing with an injury, nothing is easy. “Coach Nyce and the team have been amazingly patient and gracious toward me this year. I try my best to work hard while practicing and competing, but I’ll never be where I was at a few years ago. Although this is sometimes disappointing, I am learning to appreciate other aspects of cross country, such as the beautiful fall weather, the wonder of the human body, and some amazing teammates to run with.”

After graduation, Schmid plans on continuing to run for a long time. “My sister and I are hoping to do some triathlons in the future, but if not, I hope to run for most of my life. The best part of running is that it’s a life-long sport and it can be done almost anywhere,” she said.

Running is one of the only certainties in Schmid’s future, but the rest can be figured out later.  “I’m only beginning to think about life after college, as I’m hoping to make the best of my senior year.  Currently, I’m potentially looking at getting a nursing job and living with friends on the west coast next year, near mountains and nature, some of my favorite things. In the long run, I’d like to do something involving Native American maternal health, but have no timeline for that endeavor.”