My first semester at UVic has been extremely busy. It took me a few weeks to get into a rhythm of doing weekly homework assignments, getting my daily singing practising in and keeping up with my training schedule. This was made more challenging by the out of town cross-country races we went to every other week but I managed to keep on top of everything. Fortunately too, the road trips were really fun. I often get asked if I am ok spending so much time with people half my age and quite frankly, I am enjoying it very much! These are dedicated, hard-working young adults who love running as much as I do! What’s not to like!
Training and racing went fairly well this season. I trained with the Vikes on Tuesdays and Saturdays where we did either a hill workout or a faster session on the grass. Our first race was the Stanford Cardinal Invitational at the end of September in Palo Alto, California. This meet was big and competitive and such a great experience. We had beautiful, warm weather and the atmosphere was electric. The race was held on a perfectly groomed golf course and the entire course was lined with cheering spectators. I came in 14th in a strong field so that was a great start to the season. It was my first experience running a race while being part of a team. I really enjoyed feeling the camaraderie and the team spirit the girls generated before the race.
Our next race was two weeks later in Olympia Washington. This meet was the polar opposite from Stanford. It was extremely low-key and the course was definitely gnarly. Our team won both the men’s and women’s titles so we went home feeling confident that we were heading in the right direction. The final championship race (CIS-Canadian Interuniversity Sport) was what we spent the season gearing up for. This year the CIS Championships was to be held in Quebec City the first week of November. We had one more race before CIS and that was the BC x-country championships in Vancouver. This was also the race that determined who got to go to Quebec City to run CIS. Needless to say, the team was a bit more stressed on this trip as everyone wanted to make the cut. Everyone on the team had been working hard for this chance so I knew this race was an important one for many. I took the lead early in the race and managed to hold my position to win.
The CIS team was chosen several days later and now we had two final weeks to prepare. Jon made sure I was getting enough aerobic running throughout the fall as well as enough rest between workouts and races and I was feeling pretty good. By the time we got to Quebec City I was ready to run hard and give it my all as were the rest of the Vikes team. We got to Quebec three days before the race which was a real luxury! It was nice to have that extra time to get over any jet-lag and the team had a wonderful time relaxing and hanging out with each other. The Vikes coach, Brent Fougner, had arranged a couple of team dinners while we were there. We had a lot of laughs and everyone’s spirit was pretty high. I got a sense that the girls and guys on the team really respect and like each which was nice to see. It really is a great group of people.
A meeting was held the day before the race to talk about the race course and team strategy. The weather had changed dramatically since we arrived. The winds had picked up which meant The Plaines of Abraham would be a nasty place to be since it runs alongside the open waters of the St. Lawrence River. The next day wasn’t any better so it was a true x-country day on a tough course. The race start was extremely exciting and noisy! The crowds were cheering and the runners too were yelling and screaming. It was pretty wild! The race was a tough one for me. I didn’t feel smooth but I hung in there and came in 6th, not too bad for a rookie! Ha! Our men’s and women’s team didn’t quite place as well as we hoped but considering the conditions, I think we did very well. I feel so lucky that I got to have this experience and I look forward to my first indoor track season. Before I move to this however, I have one more cross-country race to run in Guelph, Ontario on November 29th where I will be running in the National Cross-Country Championships. Since I am the only runner from the Vikes team going to this event, I will be working with Jon Brown and training with his group while the Vikes move into the next phase of training to prepare for the track season. Stay tuned for a report after Nationals!