I ran in my first race of the season yesterday, which also happened to be my first 5K cross country race. Spoiler alert: I achieved both of my goals, and the team placed first out of five. The meet was a good 2.5 hours away, but given that I’m not used to riding nice coach buses, I actually enjoyed the long ride. I could feel my team’s excitement on the way there and the exhaustion on the way back.
Mile 1: I started out dead last, and I stayed that way for the entire mile, but I felt really good down the first hill. My breathing was comfortable but my legs were a tad bit sore. The first decent uphill went back right though the starting line, and the good thing about being last is that people from every team (five in this case!) are cheering for you.
Mile 2: As soon as I passed the first mile marker, I caught a glimpse of a girl in a navy uniform. She was fading. I made it my goal to reel her in, and I did so by 1.8. I soared down another hill, but I was weak on the way up. I kept glancing over my shoulder, and Navy was gaining on me. Not about to give in, I huffed and puffed up the hill and around a rectangular field. I put more distance between us, and heading back down that hard hill with a beautiful view of the ocean, I knew she wasn’t catching up.
Mile 3: With only a mile to go, I thought I might be able to pass a girl in maroon. Even though I didn’t catch up, I tried to kick a little harder. The last mile was the hardest, the hilliest, and the slowest by far.
Returning to the gravel toward the end slowed me down. Running on gravel is hard, and I was cautious on the fragile ankle I sprained last week. When I made it to the final straightaway, I gave it everything I had left. My shoulder was tight and my breathing was out of control but I pumped my arms and stuck to it and finally ran through the finish. Navy came soon after.
One of the younger girls on the team was very nervous before the race, and she was worried that she’d be last. (Ultimately, she was way ahead of me, like I knew she would.) I told her that only one girl can be first and only one can be last, so hey, what’s the difference?
I accomplished my two goals: under 40 min and to not be last. I ran my first two miles faster than I’ve run a single mile in ages, possibly since my last XC season and injury. Overall, this was a great first ISL race, and I am excited to improve. Next time, I plan on focusing on staying strong through the last mile.
Splits: 11:37 / 11:29 / 13:09 / 1:19 (last .14, according to my watch)
Unofficial time: 37:36
The bus got back to campus around 7:45. There was pizza for the runners, but I’d packed and devoured my PB&J. I took a nice warm shower, bundled up, munched on some chips and guac in the common room, and headed out onto the lawn to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I’d never seen the movie before, but I’d only heard great things, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. It was so cold, and the grass was damp, and I spent the majority of the movie snuggled under blankets with friends. I loved the movie, but I must admit I was happy when it was over because I could head back to my room… which was slightly less cold.
It’s currently a chilly 63 degrees in my room and my fingers are freezing as I type this. It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m excited for the third week of classes. I’ve really been enjoying Sacred Studies; I leave each class humming the chorus of Mumford & Sons’ song “Believe.” (“I don’t even know if I believe…”) I’m writing two articles for the school newspaper, and I’m back to running, and I’m only a little bit stressed over chemistry. All is good.