By Luis Diaz
East Los Angeles College Women’s Cross Country Marbella Flores has had an incredible season this year.
She has not placed below fourth and is projected to be in the state’s top-ten.
“I feel very blessed to be where I am at, being able to run without any injury, having an amazing team and all my loved ones supporting” Flores said.
Flores tends to get nervous before running. She said she will begin to yawn before running. To lock in she plays hype music and rap.
Before a big race, she has a nightly routine, prioritizing sleep and making sure her body is well rested.
She wants to be prepared for any race not matter the importance.Flores represented ELAC at the Downey Classic Race where she came in first. Her time was 19:19, winning the race by 58 seconds.
She came in second at the Moorpark invitational and came in fourth at the SoCal preview meet.
Momentum for Flores hasn’t stopped and just keeps getting better. She placed third at the women’s three-mile race at Mt. San Antonio College’s Cross Country invitational.
“My biggest inspiration is my little sister. She is 11 and her resilience inspires me to be the best version of myself and to work hard and give it my all,” Flores said.
“Brenda Martinez is my biggest inspiration running wise. She was an 800 meter athlete, an olympian. She inspires me because she gives back to the community and does running camps for girls, donating back to the school she used to go to,” Flores said.
Flores wants to follow in Brenda Martinez’s footsteps by giving back to her community and creating more programs for girls.
“When I was in high school, I really wasn’t serious about it but now I see the opportunities that I can get being a student athlete and doing it at a bigger level,” Flores said.
Her passion for running started in her youth, her tradition would be running the City of Commerce 5k.
“It was always my dad and my older sister. She joined cross country and that inspired me to join once I entered high school,” Flores said.
Flores is a psychology major. She applies different methods she’s learned to keep her mindset focused and organized.
Before the race in San Diego, she was nervous because she was the only girl competing. “As the race started, based on training I knew I was improving, there were hills. I wasn’t pacing myself, running as fast as I could at the moment,” Flores said.
She has been at ELAC for three years and her goal is to transfer to University of California, Riverside and is planning to run at the four year school as well.
Flores has learned to adapt and not try and reach for perfection.
“I learned to be consistent. My routine and recovery are things that have been taken very seriously.
When I had the injury last season, I saw it as ‘I have to work through it.’ I was hard on myself but ultimately I knew I was trying my best and injuries take time to recover,” Flores said.
The impact Flores wants to have at ELAC is to inspire her teammates and her community so she can be a role model to younger girls.
She might have been inspired to run in a greater way if she had read an article focused on a young college athelete. She hopes she can make that type of impact.
Milton Browne, Cross Country coach, and Flores make a joint effort to stay focused in season and ultimately be on the same page working to the same goal.
“I’m glad I met coach Browne, on Monday’s. We have a pep talk about what’s going on for the week, he checks up and gives good pep talks,” Flores said.
Running brought Flores, her dad and sister closer together. “ I believe it brought us closer together and that sparked my interest even more to run. This is an outlet for me and starting to run in college. I want to lead this lifestyle and pursue this,” Flores said.
Her mom supports her by searching up YouTube videos on how to stretch and her dad supports her by giving her motivational talks.
Flores isn’t very concerned with winning awards when it comes to her chosen sport. “For me doing something I love and being able to make an impact on my family.
“I see it in my cousins. They look up to me, and say they are continuing this sport and I believe that motivates people. Not just by saying it but actually doing it and them see the effort, to me that’s worth more than the trophies,” Flores said.
Failure isn’t something that Flores is afraid of. She knows it’s something that comes with the process, she keeps giving it her all.
“Not only because I fail, I’m not going to stop. I will keep pushing forward,” Flores said.
She has learned to deal with the pressures of the sport.
Flores is glad that she’s leading the way and grateful to be in this position. She is happy to be able to make a change for the better.