At the finish.
During the race:
Got out really well. Up to at least the first mile there was a lot of jostling and everyone was moving pretty fast. I remember passing the mile marker and being shocked that we were only a mile in – I felt like I had put in a lot more effort than a mile’s worth of work. Somewhere around this area (maybe a little bit before the mile) a gap formed between the leaders (a large group still though) and the rest of the race. I had been right behind Slekis, but noticed it was separating, and was able to surge and catch the end of the lead pack. I don’t remember exactly when I felt like I finally settled in, at the latest it was at the hill. I felt great going up the hill, both times. On the first loop I almost fell on the way down though; it was steep and I probably just leaned into it a little too much. After the first loop I was somewhere between 15th and 30th. After the race my dad said I had been in 15th, but a friend said I was about 30th (they were in different places on the course, so that could be the difference). Once we got into the woods again (probably like 800 meters from the start, but on the second loop) I caught up to Katie DiCamillo and a pack of me, Katie, and 4 McMillan girls formed. So, when I caught Katie we jostled back and forth for the lead a few times, and eventually I made a surge. I knew I had to break her completely and my other conquests were still ahead of me. Once I passed Katie I probably started going a little faster, dropping the McMillan girls too. There wasn’t much distance between me and the hill by this point and I thought the race would be over at the top (my rationale was that the hill was so steep that everyone would gain great momentum and have a great finishing kick because there was only 400 meters to go, so it would be nearly impossible to pass anyone). Going up the hill I passed Pezz and another girl (I think) – this put me in 10th place. On the down hill I passed 4 girls. I ran for my life that last straight away hearing spectators yell at the people behind me “you can catch her”. Top 10 was definitely a goal of mine going into the race, as 10 people got awards later on that night. Once I broke into 10th place though I thought to myself that I wouldn’t want to be the first one on stage, so I had some extra motivation coming down that hill!
Post Race Thoughts:
I am extremely happy. I haven’t looked at the results too much, so I don’t know everyone who beat me. This probably should have been cleared up at the awards ceremony, but I wasn’t paying attention! I wanted to run a little bit faster, but it’s a PR, a legitimate course (unlike conference last year which was probably short, which is where my previous PR came from), and I was closer to the winner than I’ve probably ever been in a national championship Cross Country race. I need to get to the course earlier, be a little more organized, and do more strides. My lack of a good warm up (I didn’t do any drills) is probably why it felt so fast early on. Next time I need to position myself a little better – I saw the first move being made, but was too far back to see the second – the top 5 put a gap on the rest of the field. 6 seconds may seem like a lot of time, but if I had surged with the lead group when they dropped the rest of the pack I may have been sprinting past a couple people for fourth instead of sixth. Overall it was a great race though. I truly exceeded my expectations and hit my main objectives to get out fast, gain momentum throughout the race, and beat some professionals.