Name: Travis Mahoney
School: College of Health Professions and Social Work
Major: Exercise and sports science
Home town: Old Bridge, N.J.
Why I chose Temple: "Temple was far enough away from home that I could feel like I was on my own, but it was close enough so I could come back over the weekend if I wanted. And I had a great connection with distance coach Matt Jelley [of Temple men's track and field]. He and my high school coach knew each other and respected each other. I wasn't really a city person when I came to Temple, but I've grown to love it. Living in the city is a great experience that everyone should have. I'm glad I chose it."
Transformative moment: "It takes a while to adjust to college-level training. I wasn't ready for it at first; my body needed to adapt. In high school, I would run 40 miles a week. My body could handle that and recover. But in college, I was doing 70 miles a week. I was fatigued all the time. But by my junior year, I adjusted and matured as a distance runner. My training started going great. And so did my races. I just kept getting better and better. In the outdoor season, I ran the steeplechase and set personal record after personal record. That put me on the national scene. In my sophomore year, I had run a 9:14; in my junior year, I ran a 8:36 in the NCAA regionals (that's still a Temple record).
"It made me realize I could reach a lot of my personal future goals. If I keep running well, I can maybe pursue a pro running career. I don't like to overemphasize my goals in public. A pro career and the Olympics are personal goals, but I want to stay humble about it. I just want to run myself into the ground.
"I like steeplechase. It's different. It's 3,000 meters. You have three-feet-high solid barriers. If you hit one, you're going to be in pain. It's not forgiving. It's strenuous and it takes a toll on your body. I have a gymnastics background, so I was always the person who liked fooling around and jumping over things. To train, I run in the city, jumping onto platforms, bikes that are chained up, benches, fences.
"What separates distance runners from other athletes is it takes longer to build up your endurance machine. You have to push through getting your butt kicked as a freshman. If you can't cope with that, it's the wrong sport for you. There are life lessons to be learned from just about any sport, especially when you get to a higher level. Sometimes you have bad times, sometimes you have good times. But you've got to stick with it if you want to get something out of life."