Sports Editor J. Mike Blake talked to Panther Creek senior runner Rebekah Greengrass about everything from last year’s troubles to next year’s plans – and her English accent.
Q: What’s the goal for your senior year?
A: I’m hoping to get to states and do really well there. And hopefully get to Nike Nationals this year, because I’ve tried in years past and I’d really like to get there this year. Or maybe Footlocker (Nationals). I really haven’t decided yet.
Q: What from last year is really motivating you?
A: Last year I had some iron blood-level problems I wasn’t aware of until toward the end of the season. My goal would be 17:30 or faster. I just want to come back from last year because I didn’t do as well as I wanted at the state meet because of the iron stuff. So I just want to bounce back from that.
Q: How did that affect you, and when did you start noticing (the low iron problems)?
A: I started noticing fatigue in my legs. I was fine, (as far as) the times I was running. My heart felt fine. I was breathing fine. Then my legs would fatigue really quickly. At first we weren’t sure what was wrong. I thought, “Oh my legs are probably just tired. I need to stretch out more or something.” But we figured out after states, because I fell a few times at the state meet while I was racing, and after that we figured out that it was probably iron deficiency. We got my levels checked and it was lower than what’s good for a runner.
Q: Had you ever fallen before?
A: I fell my first race back my sophomore year after my injury. I fell at the NCrunners meet in Kernersville coming around the corner in the last 800 (meters). Because it’s a tight corner I kind of wiped out. I mostly fell my sophomore year getting back into it because I couldn’t start as fast as I wanted. ... I don’t fall much even though I kind of expect to.
Q: What does running mean to you?
A: It means everything to me. I started out swimming for eight years competitively when I moved here. It was kind of, “I’ll join cross country to get myself ready for my swimming season.” I thought it would help with triathlons and maybe meet a few people before I start high school. And it changed into something completely different. I kept up my swimming for that freshman year and then I quit. My swim coach told me to choose, and I chose running because I love it so much. It means the world to me.
Q: What’s the best song to listen to while running?
A: There’s a lot. I like Eminem’s new song “Guts over Fear,” but that’s pretty recent. I just listen to a lot of different stuff. I like The Script.
Q: What are the questions you get about your last name?
A: Where’s the origin? Have you been called Purplegrass? And yes, one of the teams who was running here last year, I think, they were calling out my name and then it turned into various variations of it with (different) colors. So that was interesting. I’ve had a lot of people ask if I know the origin, which I don’t. People ask how I think I got it, but I don’t know.
Q: Did it surprise you how good you were at running that freshman year?
A: Yeah. I went to my first practice over the summer, and I came back after practice and the coaches pulled me and my mother aside and said that I needed to get a uniform because I’m going to be on the varsity. I kind of looked at them very weirdly and said, “No I’m not. I swim, I don’t run.” They said, “Well we want you to be.” My breakout race was Greensboro Invitational that year. I don’t know what clicked there, but everything fell together in that race and everything changed for me.
Q: How do you like the conference meets?
A: I use them as workouts, and a lot of people I know do. I wish they weren’t mandatory, but I might would still use them as workouts even if they weren’t mandatory. It’s good because it gets everyone else at WakeMed to run it.
Q: Best place to run?
A: I like Umstead State Park. I really like the single-track trails. Running on those are a lot of fun, especially when it’s muddy and it’s rainy. It’s my favorite. I really like the bridal trails. I run a lot of my long runs there. I would love to go out every day, but it’s just to far.
Q: Which is more fun, track or cross country?
A: Track you get to do more, but cross country is more interesting. I like them pretty much equal. Cross country, there’s always something new on the course you can look at. ... They both have their pros and cons.
Q: What colleges are you interested in?
A: I’m looking at Lipscomb University, N.C. State University and High Point University. I have got officials to all three, so those are my favorites right now.
Q: Has your diet changed since you realized you were low-iron?
A: More spinach smoothies. I have to drop drinking tea because tea and coffee drop iron levels. It doesn’t help with the absorption. I mean, I still like my tea. Being from England, I still have to have my tea every day, it feels like. I have to take iron supplements every night.
Q: So you moved here from England? How old?
A: Just a few weeks after we moved I was turning 6. So I was pretty young.
Q: Which explains the no accent. Do your parents have accents?
A: Yes they do. I have accents on certain words but not my whole vocabulary. I’ve been told my parents have very thick accents, but I don’t think they do because I know people who have thicker accents who have moved over here and I can understand them just fine.
Q: What are some of the words you’ve been told you pronounce funny?
A: I say tomato (sounds like toe-mah-toe), lettuce and mum and yogurt (sounds like yoggit) and garage (sounds like garridge). Those are the main ones everyone points out.
Q: What’s something you’d like to add?
A: I have a big family. There’s nine of us, so I usually get commented on that a lot at meets. My siblings don’t get to come very often so they like to come to regionals because it’s close. ... I’m the oldest, so I’m the first to go through everything.