BARRINGTON — Lauren Conroy has two passions that are different, yet complimentary.
The sophomore is a cross country runner for Barrington. In 2012, she was in a tight race to the finish with teammate Caroline Reynolds at the Mid-Suburban League meet. During the final 200 meters, a thought crept into Conroy’s mind. It took the form of a question.
“I asked myself, ‘Am I going to go for this or not?’ ” Conroy said. “I remember the moment I had to make that decision. I charged through.”
She won the conference title.
Conroy is also a musician. She plays the violin and the piano. While in eighth grade, she was a member of the Elgin Youth Symphony. Desirous of a solo, Conroy auditioned, choosing a Kabalevsky Violin Concerto as a composition.
“I remember thinking, ‘This is the time. I have to go for it.’ I was fearless with it and won the audition,” Conroy said.
Both examples — musical and athletic — offer a look at the psyche of Conroy. One speciality requires a deft ear, soft fingers and a tremendous amount of discipline. On Wednesday of each week, Conroy travels to Evanston for a private two-hour violin lesson at the Evanston School of Music. On the same day, she has a piano lesson that also lasts two hours. Sunday nights, she plays the violin with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where she is now a member.
Her other avocation — running — requires stamina and, yes, a tremendous amount of discipline. Conroy works out with her Fillies teammates six days a week. Although battling the flu, she competed in the First to the Finish Invitational in Peoria Saturday. As a team, Barrington finished fifth.
Conroy’s coach, Debbie Revolta, said what makes Conroy unique is her ability to channel energy into the task at hand, whether that task is a race or a concert. This allows Conroy’s body to respond in a productive manner.
“A performance is a performance. You have to focus on that time you are on,” Revolta said. “Your body reacts differently when you are free of tension. If you are playing a musical instrument, your tendency is to hit the wrong notes if you are not relaxed. When she races, she puts things in perspective very well.”
Conroy writes her own music on the piano. She said it has classical roots — Beethoven is her favorite — with threads rooted in contemporary music like the folk band Of Monsters and Men. Playing music calms her mind, she said, helping her lock into the positive mindset she needs to run races.
Both music and running have equal function for Conroy, providing feelings of joy and validation. Their forms are different, but the hobbies complement each other perfectly.
“Through my life, I’ve been busy and I’m used to it. I rarely get stressed,” Conroy said. “I know that I’m always doing my best. You only live once. Do everything you can and appreciate it.”