By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - For Auburn runner Veronica Eder, making nationals in her senior season is part of the design.
"It's my last year, so I'm trying to do it all before I'm gone," said Eder, who finished fifth in Auburn's most recent meet, the Commodore Classic in Nashville.
The way she's been running, Eder's cross country portfolio is almost as impressive as her industrial design portfolio.
In high school, in Pennsylvania, Eder's favorite subject was art. "That's not always the most practical field," she said.
Math was her second favorite subject. "Industrial design just seemed like a really good compromise of the two. It's pretty much designing products," she said.
Household appliances. Thermoelectric coolers. Jewelry. Even a "cheerful clock" for a class project. You name it, Eder has designed it.
"One of the things I'd really love to do with industrial design since I do run, would be to design shoes," she said. "That would just be a really fun career path and a way to combine the two things that I deal with every day."
Eder chose Auburn because it offered her preferred major and elite athletics.
"I came here and just really loved it," she said. "Loved the coach. It just all kind of fit together."
Eder has excelled in 2016. Her 34:17.59 10K in the Raleigh Relays made her the fourth-fastest performer in Auburn history.
She's kept up the pace in the fall, winning the season-opening event in Oxford, Alabama, and finishing second a week later at the Furman Classic.
"It's been my goal since I was a freshman to go to nationals, and I was so close last year," Eder said. "And so, this year, hopefully I can make it in all three seasons."
A runner for all seasons, Eder says whatever season she's in is her favorite.
"Right now, I love cross country, and I promise you, if you ask me during track, I'd probably say track," she said.
In high school, Eder endured two stress fractures in her right femur.
Despite an increased mileage load, her Auburn career has been injury free.
"It's really astonishing that I haven't been injured," Eder said. "It's almost unheard of in college athletics."
Eder credits Auburn cross country and distance coach Mark Carroll for understanding the physical demands that come with their sport.
"Coach Carroll, both he and his wife, Amy, professional runners, and have had such great careers," she said. "They've been through ups and downs and know it all. If I went to Coach Carroll and I said, 'My leg's hurting,' or 'Something's wrong.' He wouldn't have a problem saying, 'Don't run for three days.'"
Knocking on the wooden desk of an interviewer, Eder is grateful that that conversation has not been necessary.
"Distance running, I always joke, is the sport that never has an off-season."
With an outlook as cheerful as the clock she designed, Veronica Eder concludes an interview, heading off to her next assignment.
To borrow the famous last line of a Robert Frost poem, she has promises to keep, and miles to go before she sleeps.
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer