Captains’ Corner: Victoria Kingham ’18

Team: 

Victoria Kingham ’18. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Women’s cross country

Hometown: 

New York, N.Y.

Residence:

Currier House

Major:

History

Snack bar order:

Chocolate chip pancakes with no whipped cream

 

When and why did you start running competitively? 

I hadn’t run cross country until I came to college because I had played soccer. When I was younger, I took soccer super seriously and played travel between ages 8 and 16. But I realized that most of the reason I liked soccer was that I really liked running. I also ran track throughout high school in the spring, but coming to college, I had fallen more out of love with soccer and was getting more into running. At a certain point, soccer became all about college recruiting, and I didn’t really want that. [Head Coach] Pete Farwell [’73] was super nice and said I was welcome to run cross country here, so I went out on a limb and decided it would be cool to have the continuity of running cross country, as well as indoor and outdoor track.

How did playing soccer for so long help you become a better runner? 

From a physical standpoint, people don’t realize how much running you do in soccer – there’s a lot of running involved, and it gets you in good shape. Also, people think of cross country as an individual sport, but you actually rely on your team quite a bit, and being on a team was something that I was really familiar with because of soccer.

Why did you decide to attend the College? 

I was super indecisive at first, but I had a great overnight revisit with a first-year on the women’s cross country team. I was here on a Sunday night, and I went to entry snacks. It sounds cliché, but that was truly why I wanted to come to [the College]. It was the closest thing that I saw to a family in college – not that the team wouldn’t be a family, but there wasn’t a built-in structure like the entry at any other school. Every time I thought about going somewhere else, I thought about missing out on the entry or Mountain Day. Then I realized I wouldn’t have to miss out on those things if I went to Williams.

What are your favorite things about the cross country team? 

There are so many, but one of my favorite parts is the size and diversity of personalities and interests. Obviously, there’s the common denominator of being interested in running and putting in so much work, but what’s really cool about cross country is that it attracts people from extremely different academic interests. Also, not everyone has just done running their whole lives. People are coming at it from a lot of different backgrounds. It’s full of a lot of people with many different passions, and I have so many interesting conversations about things I don’t know anything about.

What is it like running for Coach Farwell? 

It’s great! This is something I’ve reflected a lot on coming into my senior year, but my favorite thing about him is that he truly cares about us as whole people. That contributes to the general success and the overall happiness of our team. He gives us so much trust and respect as people with complicated and great and weird lives. He so clearly understands that running is a really important and great part of our lives, but it doesn’t define us, so it removes pressure. He makes you feel very accepted and is very interested in you. Another thing that’s really cool about Pete is the longevity of his athletes. There are so many women’s cross country runners who continue running after Williams, which is just a testament to how much he loves the sport and wants you to love it too.

How have you developed as a runner over the past three seasons? 

I have learned to trust myself a lot more. As a first-year, I showed up at practice and just did what somebody else was doing in terms of how long or fast I was running. At races, I would freak out and go out fast. There was not a lot of deliberateness in my training because I didn’t have a lot of confidence. But now I feel really comfortable setting out a block of training and deciding what kind of run or cross training I need to do each day.

Do you have a particular running philosophy or approach for distance races? 

This awesome pro runner talks about a moment in your race or career when you have to be brave, and that doesn’t always mean going out hard. I think it means being brave enough to put yourself out there, and a lot of my training philosophy involves being brave enough to get on the line and trusting myself to turn off the mind and let the body go.

What are you most looking forward to about being a team captain? 

It’s really fulfilling to be able to provide others with the same guidance that I received. When I was an underclassman, it was really a good thing that I had captains because I was all over the place. It feels so fulfilling to answer a question about lifting, for instance, and reflect on how my captains, especially when I was a first-year, have influenced me. It’s a really big privilege to be able to represent the cross country team on campus because I’m extremely proud of the culture that we’ve cultivated, and it’s a really cool group of people.

What are your goals for the team this season? 

My biggest goal is that everybody finds a joy in running, which is something that can be hard because races can be stressful. We did really well as a team during my sophomore year. We won Nationals, and that was the time when I felt the most joy in my training. That’s my overall process and end-result goal, but I would also really like win NESCACs, win Regionals and beat MIT.

The team has won NESCACs the past two years. Individually, you were named NESCAC Rookie of the Year as a first-year, All-American as a sophomore and All-NESCAC for three straight years. What do these team and individual honors mean to you? 

As much as I’d like to say I’m not focused on the end result, it’s really gratifying when all of the hard work you’ve put in pays off. It’s really cool to think back on it and be super happy or feel more confident, but I think the important thing is to realize that with running, some days you have it, and some days you don’t.

Last season, you struggled with injury. How did you manage that? 

I arrived on campus on crutches with a stress-fractured femur, which was kind of my nightmare because I was coming off of a great sophomore year. I had put in too much training over the summer. I came in really bummed out but, fortunately or unfortunately, two of my teammates were also hurt. We put so much time and teamwork into hours in the pool, on the spin bikes and on the hamster track. We’d call it our daily triathlon, so I actually have so many good memories and funny stories from being hurt. Being with two other women, we all really drew off of each other’s energy.

What is your favorite route to run near campus? 

I like running on Oblong Road because it has some nice up and downs, a great dirt surface and a view of Mount Greylock.

What are your plans for next year? 

I’m going to be coaching cross country and outdoor track at my high school [the Brearley School]. I hope to go to law school eventually, but I’m super pumped for this. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and it is a good time.  

Who is your favorite professional runner and why? 

That’s an easy one! Definitely Jenny Simpson. She’s an American middle-distance runner who specializes in the 1500m. She’s been such a steady, consistent performer since high school. She just got silver at the [IAAF] World Championships, even though everyone said she wasn’t in medal contention. She’s so dependable, and she has a really good last 50 meters – she makes people look like they’re going backwards. And she’s the one who has the “be brave” quote; she’s awesome.