Week Two of Mascenic Cross Country began with a hill workout. It’s feels like that’s how we are gonna be starting every week now. This particular hill workout we call “Belmont Hills” because it so closely resembles the treacherous hill on the Belmont Course. I’ve never ran this workout before, and as a junior on the team that’s a rare occurrence. I’ve heard rumors of the terrors down the Blue Trail and Syd Bane recalled on our warmup that her older sister told her “Never run down the Blue Trail, there is an awful hill”, so we just never did. And, boy can I say, this hill lived up to my expectation. We were set to run 4 to 6. Everyone seemed to have a solid workout, and I think I speak for the team when I say we went home with sore legs.
After a hard Monday, we ran an easier day on Tuesday. We split into small groups, trying to stay COVID safe, and just got our miles in.
Now onto Workout Wednesday! We ran 800s at tempo pace, using this as an opportunity to test out spikes that hadn’t been worn since last season. Personally, I struggled with this workout. Maybe it was the shoes, or maybe lack of sleep and vitamins, or maybe it was the leftover lasagna I ate for lunch. I could come up with a million excuses but it just was not my day. The rest of the team looked pretty strong, pushing themselves and getting done what needed to be.
Thursday was Easy/Race Prep. For our first real meet of the season, we did our usual race prep. 20 minutes of easy running, some speed work (this week we did 200s), followed by a 20 minute cool down.
Finally, race day was upon us. It’s our first home meet of the season, which sounds so weird to say as we usually don’t have any more than one. The team showed up at least 15 minutes earlier than we needed to. Was it because we didn’t remember when to show up or was it the excitement to finally be racing again? The world may never know. I know us girls were definitely itching to see what our new group of freshmen were bringing to plate. The weather was beautiful and the setup of the meet was completely COVID safe. The waves definitely made for an interesting race with teammates all spread across the course, pacing was a lot harder. Regardless, I think everyone did an amazing job. Both teams had so many strong races. I hope everyone felt accomplished in their times because I did not see a bad race anywhere. Thank you to all the people that helped set up and time, cheer the runners on, and film for New Hampshire Cross Country. We’re grateful to have such a strong community in times like these.
I am going to start this week on Sunday, not Monday because two teammates and I went on an easy run in Jaffrey on the new course of our Route 124 rivals, Conant. As we race them this coming week we just wanted to get a feel for it before we had to race. The course only being 3.0 miles it is probably a minute slower from the other 5K’s so it’s sure to be a challenge.
Onto Monday where we had a 50-60+ minute run, creating a challenge for those people who didn’t go long over the summer. Most of the team spent their time running in the woods because Coach Smith over the summer cleaned up and made some new trails. After the long run, everyone had to do 5 strides and injury prevention.
Tuesday we got back into the workouts, and headed down the road to do Housing Development Hill. We had a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 16 also with a time to work with everyone sweating by the end and our legs felt like jello. I went for 11 and then stopped. Man, I felt it was a good grind, but some of my “grinds” were rough. I tried my best to get back into the groove.
Wednesday was an odd day because the middle school was having their first ever cross country meet against Monadnock and Valhalla. So the high school went out on 10 minute warm-up, did our dynamic flexibility, 5 starts and then a “long” cool down. It was so awesome to see the middle schoolers battle with each other and their rivals. Thursday was another day that we did an up tempo workout. The team headed into the woods to conquer some down hills. These downhills were representing the ones at Derryfield Park, so a useful practice. It was a 1.1 mile loop with the 400 meter downhill somewhat steep and somewhat technical. With everyone having a slightly different downhill technique, it was sometimes a challenge having everyone out there at the same time.
Friday was race-prep day which usually means 10-30 minute warm-up, 5 starts, and then cool down. Athletes with stronger summers often choose to go out for a longer cool down so they can keep their mileage up. Per usual the team kind of evaporates as soon as the practice the day before a meet finishes up, following their own pre race routine.
Saturday was race day and everyone had to get up super early (under COVID conditions) for the 9am start. After a course preview and warmup, it was race time. A twisty challenging course that runs about a minute slow lived up to its billing, making running faster than the week before difficult. However we did have four athletes match their season’s best and one beat it. Both teams won, and Quinn and Landen finished first in both races. But this is only the prelude to a month from now and now the work begins in earnest.