Interview: Gilbert Velez

Interview: Gilbert Velez

Gilbert Velez was a core member of some of the state championship Deer Creek teams. Throughout his time in high school, Velez ran personal bests of: 

1600m/ 1 Mile: 4:27
3200m: 9:31.58
5k XC: 15:02.48

After his successful high school career, Velez chose to quit competitive running. He now attends The University of Notre Dame. 

1. What moment from your high school running career do you value the most?

A: There is not a specific moment that I value the most, instead I would say that I valued the entire process of my high school running career. Although this appreciation took me some time to fully grasp as when I first began running my freshman year, I was simply excited to be out there and always waiting for the next meet to come. It was not until later that I learned that I needed to appreciate every single day of running that I was able to get in because one is not able to run all the time due to injuries. Once I began being grateful for any opportunity that I got to run with my teammates and Coach Riden, is where I truly began valuing what running did for me.

2. In your running, what individual impacted you the most? And how did they impact you?

A: Easily, Coach Riden! His impact was obviously shown through our team's accomplishments in running, but what many people do not see is how he has impacted all his runners to become better men and women of God. His calmness during moments of great adversity or challenge for me or the team is what allowed us to always have a positive outlook in many situations. He always reminded us to be humble, trust in the Lord, and "let the running do the talking" which I believe helped us in achieving the great accomplishments that we did as a team (and that continue occurring).

3. What race do you feel was your best?

A: I think that my best race came at the Texas Distance Festival in 2022 where I ran my 5K personal record of 15:02. This was an extremely fun race of simply "riding the pain train" and although I did not get my goal of breaking 15, I was grateful for the way I was able to run.

4. After high school you chose not to run in college, has this decision changed your outlook on running at all? With this, do you ever wonder what would have happened if you chose to run in college?

A: My outlook on running has changed in the sense that looking back at my personal bests I was able to run in high school, gives me a great feeling of appreciation and admiration for the ways that I used to be able to run. From time to time, my friends and I joke about "what could've been" if I decided to run in college and it is fun to think about the best possible scenarios, but I also cannot imagine having the responsibility of running currently with a heavy workload and extracurriculars.

5. Other than running, what else interests you?

A: Some of my current hobbies include any Notre Dame sporting event (Football, basketball, hockey, etc.), growing in my faith with God, readings about self-improvement, and any kind of time spent with my friends (Board games, basketball, ping pong, movies, etc.).

6. You were a part of many great Deer Creek teams, which season was your favorite?

A: Haha, great question. Honestly, I have no favorite season because every single one was with different teammates who I deeply love, and each season always brought different learning experiences that helped develop myself and the team as better people and runners.

7. Like many runners, you struggled with injuries from time to time, what did this adversity teach you about yourself and what advice would you have for younger runners struggling with an injury?

A: It taught me to not take the blessing of being able to run for granted even when I did not have the result I wanted or a bad training day. This adversity is what allowed me to build my mental strength to the point where I felt that a great majority of distance running is "all mental." My advice for anyone going through an injury is my signature 2P's (patience & positivity). Have patience through an injury because rushing through it can make it so much worse, and do not forget to have a positive outlook about your injury, remember "everything happens for a reason." Also, while injured, make sure you are doing all the small things (core, hip mobility, etc.) so that once you are injury-free, you can hit the ground running again!

8. Your Instagram is full of pictures of you traveling the world. What about traveling do you enjoy the most?

A: The thing that I enjoy the most about traveling is the invaluable experiences that one gets with exploring new things. I have been very blessed with the places that I have visited, and each one holds a special place in my heart. Never be afraid of trying new things out!

9. Do you still run often? And if so for what reasons?

A: I run from time to time, but not as consistently as I used to. Mostly, I run for my enjoyment now as running allows me to de-stress and recoup my thoughts. However, sometimes Notre Dame hosts an intramural 5K and other competitions that I love participating in!

10. What is a moment where you felt the proudest for a teammate, coach, or opponent during your time as a runner?

A: Anytime that someone on the team got a personal record, I would always feel super proud of them and their accomplishments because I knew about all the hard work that was put in day in and day out to achieve such a feat. 11. Do you find yourself missing competitive running? And if so, for what reasons? A: In a sense I do miss competitive running because of all the happiness that it provided me with through my relationships with my team, my competitors, and my coaches, and because of the satisfaction that came when realizing a goal that I had been working extremely hard for throughout the season was finally accomplished. Thinking back through all the moments of my high school career always brings a BIG smile to my face (almost tears of joy), and I would never change a single thing about the experiences that I had. #AlwaysAnAntler

I always enjoyed racing Gilbert throughout my time in high school. He is a great competitor and friend. Thank you Gilbert for taking the time to answer these questions!

As always, thanks for reading,

 - Shawn Rutledge