|This year I'm just refusing to smile at people pointing cameras at me. Apparently this really is intimidating...|
We're back!!! It's XC season (best season, of course). And we're wearing all black, like the New Zealand rugby team, for extra intimidation points. We need those. Average team weight, probably a shade over 50kg. Distance runners are not physically imposing. I have been utterly terrible at updating this, article but in my defense my laptop went and broke, and Maddie very kindly lent me her IPad so then I could type, but had no pictures, and then I got some pictures but it was midterms so had no time. It's been a busy few weeks.
Our season this year is a little different. It felt like we started really really late. School kicks off in the second week of September, and usually we have our season opener the weekend before, around the 6th, but this year our season opener wasn't until the 22nd, and even at that meet most of the team was just doing a tempo run. Then, two weekends ago we ran at the Louisville Classic, which was AWESOME!
|An accurate representation of what me trying to run away from, and then being mercilessly overtaken by all my midterm coursework looked like.|
Louisville is in Kentucky, which was a whole new state for me. We drove up there, which took about a million years, but we got an overnight trip, and we got to run in the top division race at one of the biggest weekends of running in the States. And, even more amazingly, there was mud! Nobody at home believes me about this, but I had to (1) wear spikes, and (2) wash them afterwards. Wild times, that was a whole new experience for me. I got to run with the magnificent Anna Shields, and she kicked my arse but at least I was closer to her than I was in the 1500 at track nationals (I could actually see her this time... that girl is FAST). I also rather cunningly scraped into the top ten and won a lovely present. They gave us bags with four vertical compartments inside so you can store muddy shoes without making a terrible mess everywhere. Wonderful stuff.
|Emily Kearney, Louisville Classic First Mile Champion|
We had our second full-on race this Friday, at the more familiar stomping grounds of McAlpine Creek Park in North Carolina, home of the Royals Challenge. We actually had our annual hurricane this past week so I was a bit worried the course might be underwater, but it turned out to be alright- just a bit soggy at the start. I was hoping to run well, given that historically it's been a fast course for me, but it wasn't to be on the day. I don't know what's up- the last two weeks I just haven't been right one way or another. Either sick or just tired and out of it. I blame the midterms. I ran really sub-par, but there is definitely a silver lining in that the team performed incredibly. Everyone else ran a pb or a season's best, and we posted an absolutely phenomenal team average and cumulative time.
|In the words of Jeremy Clarkson: behold the speed of the (wo)maaaaan|
I'm sure I must have said before about how much the Americans like stats. Well. To get to nationals, you run at your conference match. For British people, your conference is sort of like your county championship. Depending on how many schools are in your conference, either your first and second teams at conference, or just the first team if you have less than 12 get an automatic qualifier to nationals. Most teams qualify this way, but then there are 'at-large bids' which make up the rest of the nationals spaces, and those are based on your in-season rankings- so how you performed in season. And the in-season rankings are pretty much based on who you ran against, who you beat and your team average and cumulative times. We are currently ranked third nationally, and the team ranked first has not been performing to their ranking. They keep running like a 19 minute+ average... which doesn't look like national-winning stuff to me. But. We ran a 17.56 team average time, and a faster cumulative team time than anything they've managed by very nearly three whole minutes. This is a really exciting year for us because if we can keep this up, we stand a very real chance of taking the win at nationals!
Dunno if anyone else has noticed this (and I totally haven't custom picked my photos to reflect my own propaganda here), but my form has totally improved recently. Not so much at Royals, but we won't talk about that. I might be a long stretch from looking as impressive as my baby sister does when she's galloping around the place, but it's much improved on the graceless duck-style waddling I used to be guilty of. Possibly because over the summer I made some training routine changes. Most notably (and this was 100% Dad's fault), I started going to the gym. Me and Arry started going to the UTS in Hoylake, where the lovely Alex had many fun hours despairing at my total inability to perform normal human actions, like jumping. When we first went he did an assessment thing on me and I think he was genuinely impressed I could stand up unassisted given how pathetic I was.
-transcript taken from UTS Hoylake, August 14th, 2018-
Alex: Just relax and jump as you would naturally.
Me: Naturally, I do not jump.
Struggle was real. But I think it's done me good, even if I still can't jump.
And I got some new shoes! I'll be forever grateful to Nigel Crompton from the Runner's Hub in Heswall for introducing me to On Running. He's a really great guy who knows so much about running shoes and how they relate to different runners and different types of running, if you're at home he's definitely worth talking to if you need shoes! But last Christmas he'd ordered in a pair of the uber-fancy, all round incredible On Cloudflash by mistake, and ended up showing them to Dad, and I got a pair for indoor track and they were the best thing ever, and then got the Cloud X for my 10k adventures outdoor. Well these the Cloudrush, and they are my XC flats, and I love them! These Ons have been making noticeable inroads into the running world recently and I am so glad because I think they're fantastic. I know I wore my spikes at Louisville, but I am resolved to wear spikes as little as possible because really they give you nothing back (except sore calves), and for 90% of the running I do, the added grip isn't really a necessary consideration. So I've got these instead! So much more comfortable, so much more supportive, and the absolute best thing about the Ons is that they have a kind of springboard built into the sole, so they feel so much more responsive and springy than another boring pair of spikes. These Cloudrush are extra fab because they're strong enough that I don't hurt my toes or break the shoes if I kick a rock, but are by far and away light enough to be racing shoes, and (helpfully) are in my team colours so they match my racing kit!
In very sad news, RIP the Hoka Clifton 4. I have a pair of the Clifton 5s, and they're honestly not that different, but it made me very sad that they felt the need to mess with something so wonderful at all. I also got a pair of the Bondi 5s, which I don't like to run in at all, but they are so so so so comfortable to just walk around in. I realized very recently that I'm actually shorter than Maddie, but I'm normally wearing orthopedic shoes around here so until last week I thought I was the tall one. Crazy stuff.
And here we are! We've been doing some crazy stuff recently- she's been trying to inflict American experiences on me. On Labour Day, back in September, we went swimming in the river and I nearly drowned under a waterfall! ...okay it wasn't quite that dramatic, but we did get soaked. This is us outside the enormous new super expensive Mercedes Benz stadium, where we went to watch Atlanta United play football! Football! In America! (That's soccer to Americans). They weren't great, the match was more or less won on fouls, but the whole experience was unbelievable. The size of that stadium is basically incomprehensible. And we had American sports match snacks! Peach ice cream, nachos, pretzels and popcorn! Fun fact, the stadium is huge and fancy, but the snacks are cheap. This is not true of the Atlanta Braves stadium, where the snacks are pricey. Baseball is a mystifying experience, I had pretty much no idea what was going on, and the crowd would sing or clap or start chopping (that was quite scary) at seemingly random intervals, but it was fun!
But the absolute best American thing I've done recently was actually only last night, when we went to the rodeo!!!!! Oh my God, I've never seen anything like it! It was completely wild. Cowboys and cows and wild horses and all sorts of crazy rednecks and more crazy snacks.. funnel cake anyone? My throat still hurts from BBQ smoke and screaming, but it was awesome! Even crazier, in some places (like Texas), they do it as a college sport! You'd be the coolest person ever being a cowboy to get a degree paid for. Complete madness. Yeehaw!