Cross Country Has Helped Holly Spring's Brittany Ream Live Her Best Life

Senior Brittany Ream of Holly Springs High School has a story to tell about how cross country has helped her to live her best life.

In middle school she recalls being bullied.

"I didn't like the way I looked," she says. "The way I did anything really. I hated myself and would self-harm. Anyone out there struggling needs to hear my story, because cross country helped me change my life.

"Cross country is a beautiful thing and you meet some extraordinary people," she says. "I think that many of us look up to people we think are more attractive than us when really we should look at ourselves and see that we are made the way we are for a reason that you may or may not see at the moment. Cross country has made me a much happier person, and instead of inflicting the pain on myself in a negative way I chose to push myself."

Ream is a four-year runner for the Golden Hawks. 

"I shaved 10 minutes off of my 5K time," she says, "and have slowly made my way up to third on the team."

Her coach, Thomas Myers elaborates on Ream's success.

"Brittany ran above a 30 minute time trial her freshman year and her first race was not much better," he remembers. "She joked with me a few weeks ago that she didn't feel like getting out of bed for summer workouts during her freshman year, and she didn't."

This season, Ream has achieved a PR of 20:18 when she finished seventh at the Southern Wake Athletic Conference (SWAC) Championship last week, a 48-second improvement over her 2016 effort. 

"Wake Med is a favorite course because many tend to go too fast during the first mile," Ream says. "I always try to negative split because that's just how I run, so it's always a good feeling being able to pass people on the up hill finish. It's a great feeling to leave everything I have out on the course for my team."

Although she doesn't have any pre-race rituals, Ream prepares for her races by lacing up her Saucony spikes and "trying not to focus on the race too much. My team and I go out five to 10 minutes before and have a prayer circle, and maybe our Hawks Jacks, which is where we do jumping jacks in a circle spelling out Hawks, then come together and hype each other up and shout 'Lady Hawks.'"

Ream enjoys training at Umstead State Park and Sugg Farm.

"If I'm not having a good day I like courses with hills," she says. "But for an everyday long run I like Umstead State Park. It has a good mix with both hilly and flat parts. I love my home course Sugg Farm because it has good memories of all four years of running, that I will forever cherish."

She enjoys racing the cross country standard distance and says it's her favorite event along with the 1600 on the track. She posted a 5:47 PR during her junior year outdoors.

"My least favorite event would have to be the 3200," she says, "because I tend to lose track what lap I am on, and pacing tends to be a bit weird, but it's still a fun event either way." 

Ream stands out as the only varsity senior racing for her school.

"I would like to think I'm a good teammate," she says. "I always cheer for everyone. I bring extra water if it's going to be a hot day. I try to stay positive so the workouts go faster. I also think I help encourage some of the girls behind me because I used to run their times. Honestly without this team and my coaches I know that I would not be the person I am today."

Coach Myers describes Ream's maturity as her strength. 

"She sets obtainable goals for herself and goes after them," he says. "She does set a big picture goal, but she realizes that she can't just focus on the big goal or she will miss the steps it takes to get there. I see so many runners with race anxiety and I think it's because they see the finish line before the race starts and Brittany sees each phase of the training and race course and the finish line is the reward.

"I know she has one more goal and if she can get to the state meet through the toughest region in the state, all I can say is, 'Wow! Oh wow!' Her time may not stand out to everyone but her coaches will know. She has nothing to prove to us. She already stands out to us, state meet or not."

When she's not running, Ream describes herself as a regular student.

"I take AP classes," she says, listing her activities at school. "I forget things, I am in two clubs, I like to volunteer and help others out whenever I can, I like hanging out with friends whenever I can, and of course I stress out about things as well."

She especially enjoys her chorus classes.

"I've always loved music and love learning how music works the way it does, with music theory. Chorus music also can be very challenging and beautiful which is also a bonus."

Ream looks forward to competing after high school. This fall, she committed to Wingate University.

"I am super excited because I never thought I would be where I am today," she says. "Also for the millionth time it feels like, I want to give a huge thank you to my coaches, teammates, family, and friends who have supported me every day of my running career because I would not be where I am, and who I am without them in my life!"