"Autumn is in the air"
Leaves are beginning to fall and there is a familiar crispness in the air. Seemingly barren trails that we have ran on since the heat of August now have an aesthetically pleasing green hue, and darker clouds have begun to emerge in the sky. One cannot help but notice that autumn is in the air.
Autumn signifies the "official" start of the cross country season. While two-thirds of the season is already in the books, it is the final third that is remembered most. For better or worse, it is the final third that defines a season.
We currently stand one week away from the West Coast Conference Championships at Crystal Springs in Belmont, CA. Crystal is one of the last "true" cross country courses on the west coast, and has been described by Coach Felipe Montoro as "the great equalizer." Having run this arduous and hill laden course since I was a sophomore in high school, I can easily attest to that. You can't run Crystal Springs like you would run a flat golf course. Do so, and you will find yourself in the rough headed for a triple bogey. Knowing how to run Crystal requires knowing when and how to pick your spots.
While many runners cringe when they hear the words "Crystal Springs", we embrace it. We embrace the tradition and history that encompasses each passing turn. Most of all, we embrace the home field advantage. Having talked to several current and past runners of other WCC schools, they have always commented on how passionate and raucous our supporters are. Largely consistent of current student-athletes, family members, and alumni of the cross country program, their support makes running suicide hill easier the second time around.
We head up to Crystal Springs this afternoon for our last run through of the course before next week. Tomorrow we have mile repeats, and then we begin to taper and rest up. Our workouts show that our team is beginning to turn it on right when it matters, and we have a lot to look forward to. Crystal Springs is also a premier spectator course, so we would greatly appreciate it if you could come out and support the team next Saturday morning. Thank you.
Run 5 miles real fast!
Monday, October 8 - Mid-season review
First of all, my apologies for the lack of a blog these last couple weeks. A lot has happened since our last race in Seattle, and we are now entering the most exciting phase of the season. On September 29th we traveled up highway 280 for the Stanford Invitational. Despite our high expectations, we did not perform as well as we would have liked to. While we were pretty disappointed immediately following the race, we were able to retain focus and not let an early season performance set a negative tone for the rest of the season. Freshman Robbie Reid was named athlete of the meet after breaking into our top 5.
Perhaps the reason why we felt a little flat at Stanford was because of the intensity of workouts we have been doing the past few weeks. This past Friday the team had collectively its best workout of the season up to date. We did five one mile repeats with three minutes rest in between each at our home cross country course, Baylands of Sunnyvale. The workout served as a real confidence booster and was a culmination of all the hard training we have done over the past few weeks. On a personal level, I felt like I had my best workout of the year as I was able to complete the five miles in 5:02, 4:49, 4:48, 4:45 and 4:43, respectively.
This week will be one of the lighter weeks of the season so far in terms of intensity as we ready ourselves for our invitational at Baylands on Saturday morning. For a lot of our guys, this will be our most important race of the season up to date as the coaching staff will then decide who makes the post-season top 7. As of now, there are a couple spots up for grabs and a few guys will need to step it up if they want their seasons to continue.
Thanks for reading and please come out and support the team this coming Saturday at the Bronco Invitational!
Friday, September 21, 2007
A lot has happened since my last blog a couple weeks ago. The top 10 men competed this past Saturday at the always competitive Sundodger Invitational hosted by the University of Washington, and the remainder of the squad raced at Sacramento State. Both men's squads were successful, and hopefully the improvements recorded this past weekend only foreshadow what is to come in the future.
At Sundodger we set the Santa Clara record for fastest team time ever. Our 1st through 5th runners averaged 25:26, bettering the mark set by the 2002 men's team. This was one of our top goals headed into the season, and the fact that we achieved it so early makes us believe that we can set the record even faster at upcoming meets. The breakthrough performance of the race has to be freshman Chris Sampson, who went from being our 7th man the USF Invite to our 2nd man at Sundodger. Along the way, he set the SCU record for fastest freshman 8k time (25:08) and stunned everyone including himself. Sophomore Alex Harkins also had a solid race as our 3rd man setting a personal best time, and freshman Chris Mosier and sophomore Stephen Koch rounded out the top 5. At the Sacramento State meet, sophomore John Howard led all Bronco men with a huge personal best.
Aside from all the running taking place, classes started this past Monday as well. I am taking 20 units this quarter but am hoping that studying will not take too much time away from focusing on my training as we approach the latter part of the year. I don't want to say I have been stricken with "senioritis", but let's just say that most of the time I am thinking about our upcoming race schedule rather than accounting textbooks and problems. Looking ahead, we will have the opportunity to compete against our two biggest conference foes, USF and LMU, at the Stanford Invitational on September 29th. We have already defeated USF twice this year despite them being ranked ahead of us, and I know we are looking forward to doing the same to Loyola. This afternoon we will be doing a pretty strenuous workout at our home course which will attempt to simulate the effort at which a race begins and finishes. Hopefully next week I will have similarly good news to report from Stanford.
Have a good weekend!
September 6th, 2007
These first 3 weeks of pre-season training have been filled with much excitement and team bonding. First of all, we welcomed a new group of freshman who all come to Santa Clara with impressive running resumes and seemingly bright futures. Maybe this year more than in years past, the freshman class is fortunate to have an established core of seniors on the team with a plethora of championship racing experience. Our mix of young talent and senior leaders is probably the aspect of this year's team that I am most excited about. My fellow co-captain, AJ "Father" Blumel, and I are eager to lead the team not only this year but to set the standard for years to follow.
After meeting all of the new faces and settling into our living arrangements, the focus was transferred to starting off the season on the right foot. We had our first race, the USF Invitational, on Labor Day weekend up at scenic Golden Gate Park. The meet was an overwhelming success, as we were able to take the team and individual titles over a talented field of runners from Cal, San Jose State, San Francisco State, and host USF. Despite winning the race, we weren't about to douse ourselves in a champagne shower with Queen's "We Are the Champions" blaring in the background. The coaching staff and veterans on the team know that winning the first meet of the season means absolutely nothing. Collegiate cross-country success is judged at the Conference and Regional level, and our team knows that staying focused throughout the duration of the season is half the battle.
This week saw the team make the journey over Highway 17 for our annual running camp at New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz. Despite leaving a day early due to a minor illness spreading around camp, we were able to get in some solid training in the forest and along the beach. Intense games of "I never" and "Mafia" around beach bon fires are part of the reason why camp is the week where the most team bonding occurs.
This upcoming week will be the last week of being able to only focus on training before school starts and the "student" part of "student-athlete" kicks in. I am looking forward to logging a few more solid workouts before we leave for Seattle to compete in the Sundodger Invitational on the 17th. Look for Sundodger to be the first real test of our fitness level, as we will be racing against some top West Region competition.
Till next time...