ADIDAS Challenge

Another hot morning in NC with a race start temperature of 88º. We were stood at the start line with the blazing sun on our faces, going over the race rules and making sure feet were behind the line. There were 327 Invitational Girls stood waiting for the gun. I know this course quite well and have a love, hate relationship with it.  I know I have to run out really fast otherwise I get pushed around and elbowed. I enjoy being in the wooded part of the race but hate the two very long hills we have to climb – especially to the finish line.

Last year our team came in 2nd place overall. However, this year we were missing a couple of runners due to other conflicts.

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Waiting at the start line

 

The gun went off and I went out fast and was pleased to be in the top 40 pack. We ran down the wide open field and started to narrow off as we entered the woods, it was nice to feel the temperature suddenly drop a few degree’s and be away from the cheering crowds.

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I was comfortable with my pace and was happy with my first mile, my teammates were behind me pushing me on to lead them.  As we approached the long hill for the first time I set my sights on passing a few girls, the cheers from our team on the side lines pushed me on and up the hill.  Just before the 3 mile marker by two team mates were up and close behind me as the three of pushed ourselves up the hill again to the finish line.  I was annoyed with myself to be short of under 21 by 9 seconds.

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Finish

I crossed the finish line in 21:09 an improvement from last years ADIDAS race time of 21:20 on the same course but not the time I wanted.

We will be running this course again at Regionals so watch this space!

O

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Jungle Run

 

On Saturday night I ran my first and last Jungle Run: the original night time race.

It was an exhilarating experience especially because the first Jungle Run I came to was in 9th grade and I was injured so I could only cheer on my team and didn’t experience the race first-hand.

The race started off fast it was 8.45pm and pitch black, the course was lite in various areas by the tall, loud generated lighting.  There were lots of tight corners causing the influx of runners to bunch up and slow down the pack. Eventually the race spread out after the first mile and I was able to pack up with three other girls from my team (this turned out to be a very crucial move for our team to win the Invite race).

The second mile we spread out a little and began to pick other runners off- we started the race being around runners number 40 or so, and by mile 2 my Mum had shouted out 27, 28, 29 so we knew if wem-1 kept picking of the girls in front we would have a chance to medal.

On the last mile we could hear our team cheering for us through the trees, unable to see them as it was so dark. We hit the track and I could see the clock out of the corner of my eye and was happy to see 20 something, I sprinted round and took 12th place and a medal.  As a team we were so proud to win The Girls Invitational, plus 3 of us medaled. We had one JV girl and boy to medal, plus one of our varsity boys came in first place for the boys invitational.

The team left on the bus around 10.30pm and I stayed to the end of the awards so that I could pick up the well deserved hardware for our team.

A great first and last Jungle Race!

O

 

Not exactly the best first race

The day started out hot and humid ( 89º) already not ideal for the first short watermelon race of the season.

The course we were running was a 3k- not quite 2 miles. None of us had run it before. After completing my pre-race captain duties, our girls team warmed up and stretched out, getting ready for the line.

Then before I knew it the race had begun on the count of “Runners on your mark, set, go!”, we started out fast on a short strip of grass before heading onto a rough large rock narrow pathway, we settled in as we encountered the concrete walking path and could see the iron bridge in the distance which singled the first hill.

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I could feel the stiffness in my thighs as I climbed the hill which was pretty steep. As we headed up into the lollipop forest path I tripped on a root and fell, getting right back up quickly not pausing to check my knees, I ran faster to catch up with my running buddy.

During the second part of the short race I dodged pot holes and the mysterious tall grass which was hiding large rocks.  We ran downhill on the second half of the race allowing me to pass a few girls down the hill. We ran back up the hill for the last .25 of the race.

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I improved my time by about 20 seconds going back up the hill and looping around. Back across the gravel and heading to the shoot I came in 2nd for my school. I stopped at the finish line and helped my friend who was having an asthma attack and was a little panicked.

What came after the tough race was anything but fun- One of our fastest runners and captain of the boys team had managed to slice his leg on a wooden post that was hidden from his sight, he was in a tight pack during the race. Subsequently we had to have an ambulance arrive at the course and he was taken to E.R.

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Great sense of humor!

He needed 12 stitches and will not be running for the next 10 days. I feel for him and hope he has a speedy recovery.

O

Run DSA is Ready to GO!

At the beginning of each cross country season, as a team we go and paint under the East Campus Duke bridge.  We have spent many runs during the summer sprinting past the free expression tunnel, it was fun to paint our school team name on it during our team activity Friday morning. We have such a great team this year and I am excited to see what we can achieve. Let’s RUN DSA!

xoxo

O

Art Loeb, Brevard – the definition of strength

This week I am at camp and not just any camp, the type of camp that leaves you sore and blistered daily- whilst at the same time craving more challenges and laughs along the way!

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Day 1 – Guion Farms

This picture is of my team on a run at Guion Farms, Brevard, NC on Monday- even though we looked exhausted, the run had been a self esteem booster as we were the first girls back, all while staying together as a team! It gave us confidence for the jam packed week ahead.

Tuesday was mildly easier as we ran to the lake and went swimming (we had something to look forward too 😉). All of us girls were able to pack together, finish, and splash together which is so important for a team!

Today however was the ultimate test of our team bond and our individual strength, as we prepared to run the hardest and most anticipated course of our weeks camp. We were up before the sun to get the bus to Art Loeb.

Individually I had attempted the course last year and did not make the half way cut off time – so you know, I was fired up with determination this year.

Art Loeb is one of the most difficult trails in NC and part of it consists of a 4 mile up hill and a ~3.7 steep downhill trail run – it has a total elevation of 6,000ft. The course itself is daunting and many people are not able to make the difficult course all the way up.

Starting as a pack my team was ready to ‘kill the hill(s)’ and was able to get out fast. Along the way one of our runners dropped off and one continued a few seconds ahead, my group of 3 stayed together. Closer to the half way point we were breathing hard and crying out from the pain in our legs and the voice inside our heads telling us to quit. For me it was like my muscles were screaming for me to stop and walk. As we quickly neared the cut off time we sprinted to the area and heard a voice with the words “congrats guys you made it”. It was an achievement all by itself and we were now able to shake off the time pressure on the trail. We still had one more uphill and then it was a fast downhill. Nearing to the end: 7.7 miles, we stayed together and caught up to the other teammate who was a few seconds ahead. She cried out when she saw us knowing that we too had made it.

In reflection, the mental state is as important (if not more) than the physical state of the body. To be able to push oneself when the rest of your body is telling you NO is the definition of strength.

It was a run I’ll never forget even when the blisters heal- I would not have done it without my team of strong girls!

O

 

 

Long distance running camp – here we come!

Just a quick blog entry. A group of us from our HS cross country team met up this morning to car pool up to Brevard. We will be spending the week at a long distance running camp. We have all been so excited for this trip, it’s going to be a great week as we run the trails of the Blue Ridge Mountains and build strength and team spirit!

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My running family!

Cross Country Summer Practice: A Week in Review!

IMG_4622.PNGLast week’s practice was full of variety in workouts and runs which was exciting and new. On Monday we had another round of sweaty circuits with obstacles of abs, with stretchy bands. Between each obstacle we were asked to sprint about 25m. Tuesday and Wednesday called for a long run around the Duke area and a nice conversational pace. I was absent Thursday due to a college interview but made it back for practice the next day on Friday to end the week. Friday consisted of freezy pops and potato sack races to reward the team for the long week we had endured.

Hill yeah!

Thursdays in our XC team usually consist of a workout- either on the track or on hill repeats. Thursday this week was dedicated to hill repeats for varsity on the newly found hill in the center of our city. Our goal for practice was to do 8-12 of these hill repeats near the skate park. The netting laid around the skate park’s premises for the intention of grass development added to the extra ‘umpf’ to get up the hill (no grass was harmed). I can’t forget the mud that pooled just before the finish at the top.  It made the last few feet slippery and unstable to lift our knees for the final push to the top. The workout was tiring alluding to success!

Looking forward to fun Friday with freezy pops and games to kick off summer running!

 

I think my favorite thing about running is that races really come down to who wants it more.

Tell me a little about yourself, not running related.

I’m a junior at DSA. I was born here in Durham and have lived here my whole life.  My favorite subjects in school are math and science, and I hope to some day work in the medical field. Besides running, I love to play other sports, like basketball.  I also really enjoy playing piano and singing in my school choir.

When did you first start running?

I first started really running in 6th grade. Through most of elementary school and all of middle school, I was a year-around swimmer, and I kept finding that my favorite practices were the ones where we were able to go for a run as part of our cross-training. Then later that year when I took gym, we had to run the mile and I ended up being pretty good at it, so I decided to try my luck with cross-country the next year. I ended up loving cross-country and track, and so I’ve stuck with it ever since.

What is your favorite running workout and your least favorite workout and why?

My favorite running workout would have to be 8×400 @1600m pace, with 60 seconds rest between each. I did this workout for the first time last year during track season, and really liked it. For me, 400s are my favorite workout distance because they are long enough that you can settle in and do some work at pace, but short enough that they don’t seem overbearing. The rest also keeps things interesting because it is relatively short. I like to do this workout (or a slightly modified version) a week or so before a big race because it’s a big confidence booster for me. On the other hand, it is my least favorite work out would probably be 5×1000 on the track. 1000s are great for your fitness, and I do them frequently, but they are just long!

Do you do any other sports other than running?

I don’t do any other sports at school, but I love just playing them for fun. I really love playing pickup basketball, and the competitive nature that surrounds other team sports like it.

How do you fuel your body the week before a race?

I usually try to keep my diet pretty regular so I don’t upset my stomach, but I do take extra care to drink lots of water and to make sure I have enough electrolytes in my diet as well. Typically, I like to have a lot of carbs two nights before a big race, and something lighter the night before. Race morning, I usually have a hearty bowl of oatmeal and a banana; sometimes if my race isn’t t until later in the morning or afternoon, I will have a protein drink as well.

Do you have a favorite person to run with?

I really like running with my varsity team at school. They’re all great guys and we have lots of laughs on runs that make them go by so much faster.  I also like it when our coach runs or bikes with us because he has some great stories as well.

What’s your favorite thing about running?

I think my favorite thing about running is that races really come down to who wants it more. There’s a famous quote by one of the greatest American runners ever, Steve Prefontaine, where he says “the best pace is a suicide pace, and today seems like a good day to die.”  I really like this quote because it shows how running is really just a competition of who can be the most uncomfortable for the longest.  Desire to win in this sport is huge in deterring the outcome of a race, and that is just one of the many things I love about the sport.

What’s your favorite running distance?

My favorite racing distance is probably the 1600. I love the 1600 because by the time it really starts hurting it’s halfway over! There’s just enough time in the race to have a few surges and make a tactical race out of it, but it’s also long enough that it’s not a complete sprint.

Do you have a favorite running outfit? Or a lucky clothing item?

I used to always wear the same socks in race crazy socks on race day, but after a few bad races in them I realized I was just being a little superstitious.  Now I like to change it up a little bit, and vary my racing outfits, especially socks, and in the rare occasion, headbands.

How do you fit running in with your school, social life and family?

It’s really tough to fit in running and school and family and everything else that goes on in a typical high-school life, but I’ve found that if I’m not running most of the other things seem to fall apart. When I’m not running, I can’t concentrate as much in school, and I’m just generally in a less optimistic mood. Because of this, I try to fit running in first. Sometimes this means waking up at the crack of dawn because I have a super busy day ahead, or just doing a short 20min run around my neighborhood at 10:30 at night. Fitting it in has been tough at times, but once I realized how important it was to my overall well-being, I try to fit it in as often as possible.

Do you have a running bucket list of places or trails you would one day like to run?

I think it would be really cool to go for a run on all seven continents, but that might be pretty tough. I also really want to run at Hayward field in Eugene, Oregon.

Would you like to run at college?

I would really love to run in college. As I’ve gotten a little bit older I’ve realized just how tough that goal is, but it’s still something I would love to do. If I decided not to run for the college I go to, I would definitely still keep running and maybe try a triathlon or two.

What does your team mean to you?

I really love my team, and the fun atmosphere that they help create. My school team is pretty big compared to other schools, but that just adds to the fun. Meets are awesome and you can really feel the support from other runners and teammates. Even during workouts, there are always teammates cheering each other on and having a good time.

Who inspires you?

My coaches and parents are probably my biggest inspirations. Hearing stories from their past about challenges they have overcome always helps encourage me to work harder. My parents have been there throughout my entire athletic career, and have always pushed me to dream big and work for those dreams. Coach Huggins has been there since the start of my running career as well, and has taught me very important lessons about running and life in general.

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Thanks so much for the interview. We have a similar bucket list – I want to try and run on all seven continents as well. I will be running a 5k this summer in England and one in Scotland. My family is planning a trip to Australia and Singapore in 2018 and I have already found a 5k Park Run in my grandparents home town in Australia – just need to find something in Singapore. We can figure out Antartica together!

 

 

 

Challenger Circuit Track day!

Today is Tuesday and in Cross Country terms that means a Track workout! But to my surprise we had a circuit laid out for us consisting of 4 elements, and 50m sprints in between each exercise.

  1. We started at the line and sprinted to the first set of cones where we did 15 lunge jumps.
  2. We then sprinted to the next set of cones where we completed 15 shoulder pulls with stretchy bands.
  3. After the shoulder pulls we sprinted to the next area for our sit-ups with 10 pound weights, these were pretty awful as they combined yesterdays hard-core ab workout.
  4. The final destination was quad bridges and as each runner went through the group cycles the mats we were laying on became very soaked with sweat- not ideal, and ew!

It was a very fun and productive second day of practice and everyone was rooting for each other; I can’t wait until practice day 3.