Earlier this fall, in between studying for torts, contracts, and other rigorous first-year law courses, Cole Feldman ran the best race of his season. On October 18, he ran eight kilometers in 25 minutes and 35 seconds.
Feldman, who is one of the best athletes on Pepperdine University's cross country team, has competed in the sport since his freshman year of high school. "I love that success in cross country is contingent upon how much work you put in," he says. "Your races definitely reflect the amount of work you put in everyday."
Staying afloat in law school while training each day would be impossible for some, but Feldman makes it work.
"Balancing law school and cross country really hasn't been that bad. I've run competitively for so long that I am used to the routine and know what I should be doing," he explains. "I have practice every morning at 6:40 a.m., and I'm done by 8:30 a.m. Class starts at 9:10, so I can make it back up to the law school in time for a quick breakfast before class."
He finishes studying by 8 p.m. and has a little time to relax before heading to bed. "I don't have a lot of free time, but it's worth it to me," he says.
Feldman came to Pepperdine from Drake University, where he earned a degree in accounting. Both Drake and Pepperdine are division one schools for cross country, which allow athletes 5 years to use 4 years of eligibility. Since Feldman redshirted his freshman year, he has an additional full year of eligibility left. He will also run track for Pepperdine in the spring.
Born and raised in Carroll, Iowa, a small town about 90 miles northwest of Des Moines, Feldman stayed in the state for college. A business law course ended up being his favorite class throughout his four years of college, so he set his sights on law school.
After visiting numerous law schools, he chose Pepperdine because of its beautiful campus. One of the first calls he made after he was accepted to the School of Law was to cross country head coach Robert Radnoti.
Now in his third year as head coach, Radnoti wasn't entirely sure Feldman could handle the rigors of law school while competing for the Waves. But Feldman started out on the right foot by keeping up his training over the summer.
"The summer before any cross country season is critical and Cole did a really good job of taking care of his fitness regimen in Iowa," Radnoti says. "I want all our students to be successful and I know he can thrive in law school, which is very important. But this entire idea has been his call."
Feldman has worked hard to fit the requirements of both law school and cross country into his busy schedule. He has missed very few law classes or early-morning practices-though sometimes he opts out of off-campus runs to the beaches of Santa Monica or the secluded trails off Mulholland Drive, since he wouldn't be able to make it back to class on time.
Overall, Feldman maintains the balance. He enjoys law school, he says. "I feel like all of the professors are very warm and welcoming. They really show that they want you to succeed." And he appreciates the friendships he has made with Seaver college students through cross country. "It's really a breath of fresh air to get away from law school for a bit and hang out with the team," he says. "Although they're a few years younger than me, I don't really notice-we're all really good friends.
As an older student, Feldman can offer advice to the younger runners-whether on how to run an 8K or how to succeed in the classroom.
"I really love the sport and competing at the college level," he says. "I couldn't imagine being here without running for the team as well.
For more information on the Pepperdine cross country team, visit the Waves Web site.