From rocking out to running track: Freshman runner plays in band, breaks track records

arabella reece

Freshman cross-country and track runner Arabella Reece has broken two Chapman records, with the best times in the 5K and 6K race. Reece is from Murrieta Valley, California. Photos courtesy of Arabella Reece

Freshman runner Arabella Reece breaks records on the track and also plays gigs across Southern California with her band, Miss Spoken.

One Direction, karate and running.

Where do these three passions connect? With freshman cross-country and track runner, Arabella Reece.

Reece, who went from the Turkey Trot in fifth grade to breaking records at a collegiate level, said she began training for the cross-country season at the beginning of June 2017, running six to seven days a week until Thanksgiving break.

Reece first broke Chapman’s 5K record with a time of 18:09.1 on Sept. 15, then beat her own personal best record a second time with a time of 18:03.5 Sept. 22. She beat Chapman’s 6K record with a time of 22:24.7 on Oct. 6.

“You put in the training, you get the results,” Reece said. “You run varsity, because you trained and worked hard to be at that level. You don’t get to run varsity because coach likes you.”

Her body isn’t used to taking a break from running, she said.

“Your body’s like, ‘Yo, let’s get going,’” Reece said. “So I’ll work out other ways, but typically I’ll try to give myself a solid week of doing absolutely nothing just for recovery purposes. Your body just can’t handle that.”

Reece also has a black belt in karate, but her accomplishments don’t end there. She’s dabbled in dance, participated in multiple sports and is a vocalist and guitarist for her band, Miss Spoken.

Reece said her high school obsession with One Direction made her to want to be in a band.

Reece and her Miss Spoken band mates.

“I bleached my hair,” Reece said. “I got super into my clothing and bands and changed my whole room. Every wall was just covered with posters.”

Miss Spoken was formed at Riffs Music in Reece’s hometown of Murrieta, California. The band, which is just over two years old and plays mostly pop and punk rock, performs in various venues, like the Garden Grove Amphitheater, The Legacy Room, Beatnik Bandito Music Emporium and the Whisky a Go Go on Sunset Boulevard, said the bassist for Miss Spoken, Jessica Marchese, who attends Loyola Marymount University.

Reece’s experience playing at Whisky a Go Go was one of the best moments of her life, she said.

“It was one of the craziest nights of my life because it was so surreal,” Reece said. “I have so many moments like that where, in terms of hard work paying off, it connects to running and connects to everything in my life. Just those moments of, ‘Wow, everything I’ve done has led up to this moment and now I’m here and appreciating what I have.’”

Marchese said she became close with Reece through classes at their high school.

“We (might) not talk for weeks, but when we do we are still as open and honest as when we were at home and saw each other every day,” Marchese said. “We have shared a lot of laughs and heartbreaks together and we have constant support for one another.”

Reece accomplishes everything she puts her mind to without fear of judgement or failure, Marchese said.

“Arabella is an ideal front woman, full of energy. (She) knows how to work a crowd and makes sure everybody is involved and having fun,” Marchese said.

In terms of Reece’s running success, Marchese said she isn’t surprised — Reece has always strived to better herself, whether it’s in athletics, academics or music.

Reece’s future goals are an “open book,” she said. Since she is passionate about many different things, she doesn’t know what to pursue after college.

“There’s just so many things to do,” Reece said. “I want to do them all. I just want to play music but I also want to go to school, but I also want to run and I want to do creative things. And travel. I just want to do everything.”

Reece said her parents are her main support system. Her father, who she said is a role model for her, ran cross-country in high school. Reece was inspired by him to always push herself. Her parents have also never missed one of her band’s shows, she said.

“My dad is really inspirational to me. Both my parents are. They just go for their dreams,” Reece said. “My dad is a screenwriter, so he’s been told his whole life, ‘You can’t do it, you’re never going to make it, there’s so many people trying to do that’ … (But) if you work hard enough, you will have success.”

Reece said when she left for college, she decided to change her mindset on running.

In high school, she was stressed and focused on the negative aspects of life and she wasn’t appreciative of what she had, she said. She wanted to turn that around after coming to Chapman.

“I’m putting so much less pressure on myself mentally, so I think I’m just proud of myself,” Reece said.

Head cross-country coach DeAndra’e Woods said Reece knows how to put one hat on, and take another off.

“A lot of times student athletes, and just students in general, get to college and they’re so stressed out and freaking out about so many different things,” Woods said. “They don’t realize (these are) some of the best days of their entire life. (But) I think she kind of knows that.”

Bonding between teammates is inevitable when they have 6 a.m. practice for two and a half hours, said cross-country runner Mia Hernandez.

Hernandez said when she met Reece she made an effort to make sure she was comfortable with the team and enjoying the season.

“I know she’s got a lot of potential and she’s going to continue to break records,” Hernandez said. “I’m really excited for her, and it’s really nice to have her on the team because she’s also encouraging for everyone else. She’s there cheering us on and helping us to do our best. She makes showing up at 6 a.m. not a bad thing.”

Reece said she knows her passions for running and music are unique, but the combination has let her thrive in multiple areas of her life, she said, allowing her to push her body physically, mentally and musically.

“Typically people in music don’t do sports — You’re one or the other. It’s weird to cross over, but people really respect it,” Reece said.