By Anna Bentley
The cross country season started out like no other. After losing the majority of our team to graduation, we have dubbed this season one for “rebuilding”. With only ten runners, on the girls
and guys side, the dynamic has changed so rapidly, even just from track season. Though this reminder lingers over us, there have been glimmers of hope towards our future. Located in the small, quaint town of Swanzey, NH, the Monadnock cross country team has had its fair share of glory. Surprisingly, we all got to witness the boys team winning the Division 3 State Championship last year. Never have there been so many smiles and shouts of joy from the bus windows. Though they scared the trick-or-treaters that night, nothing could stop them
from letting the whole town know they finally did it. They won the State Championship.
The girls team hasn’t won since 2015. Traditionally, we have never had many girls come out for the sport. Most years, we’re scraping around for just enough to score. After losing our beloved
captain and running super-star, Delaney Swanson, the girls have had to rekindle a bond that had been broken for some time. Though it is only three weeks away from States, we can remember the first day of practice as vividly as our last meal. Unfortunately, we had to begin in a late August heat wave. Those first few weeks were brutal with the humidity suffocating our motivation. Now that it is the beginning of October, we look back on those days and appreciate the fact that they are over.
Our team has had the chance to travel to the White Mountains, Nashua North High School, Belmont, and soon Pelham. This season has been very full of races, unlike last year due to Covid-19. Without being able to score for the past few weeks, we are looking forward to seeing how a full team of girls and guys will play out.
Week 8: Better Late than Never!
Monday was cold and wet. The will to move one’s body in the frigid, dank air depleted. We knew there would be a workout, but we did not dwell on that fact. Gathering under our meeting spot,
the pavilion, we guarded our belongings from the harsh, sleeting winds. There was a glimmer in Coach’s eye, one of happiness and a pursuit of a grueling day. We went out on our 15 minute warmup, and returned soaked from head to toe. After dynamics on the slightly slanted grass hill, we ran another 16 minutes, and met over by the trailhead of Mt. Caesar. The Mt. Caesar Repeats have been a recurring tradition that have held many memories of late fall.
Coach had us tempo a few 600 meters, just to get our legs warmed up a bit more. We jogged, as a team, up the trail until we got to the beginning of our steep, half mile repeat. The flooding
over the summer made a canyon running through the middle of the trail, making the footing quite difficult. Three times up was the goal, and hopefully race pace was achieved. Sadly, the top was covered by a dense fog that blanketed the valley. We could barely see one golden red tree, among a sea of white. After we completed the hill workout, Coach had us head down for two, 1200 meter repeats. This was to replicate Derryfield’s course. First hills, then flat, grassy terrain. The only goal of success has been State Championships. It is fresh in our minds and hearts. All the training is dedicated to that one day.
On Tuesday, The weather wasn’t much more promising than the day that preceded it. Thankfully it was an easy day! We all ran for a total of fifty-minutes, with some weather related conversations. Everyone went out in their separate ways, completing the task that was assigned. A few of our runners weren’t there that day, making the team seem even smaller than
normal. After our easy run, which ended up being a little too slow, we headed into the gym for some iron pumping. Though it hasn’t been consistent, our team has been doing strength training for the first time in many years. We completed our circuits while laughing and having fun. Recently, one of our runner’s has crafted the most epic playlist that graces our ears at every chance possible.
Half way through another week, we were surprised with a cemetery workout. The sun was in full blast, beaming down on our aching legs. The air had warmed up exceedingly more than the
other days before it. Monadnock prides itself on performing in harsh, cold conditions. The sun is our kryptonite. The classic Cemetery Workout normally consists of speed and quick leg turnover. We didn’t know what to expect that day. Our Coach created a workout that we had never attempted to do before. It was hard, but not impossible by any means. He had marked out a 500 meter loop for us among the gravestones. We ran race pace for 300 meters, and then jogged 200 meters. This continued for twelve laps. It was hard to keep track in our heads how many we had done. It was brutal and painful, but worth the hassle. It was that time of year when we had to know what our race pace felt like. After jogging back to the school, we were led in some stretches by the one and only Alyssa Hall. Sadly, we did not have the chance to attempt the chair, or the cow, but we felt relaxed and recovery had begun. It was time to get in some good eating and sleeping.
Thursday was an easy run, making it a fun practice. We were getting ready for the small race at Fall Mountain the next day. Most of us were only doing a tempo/workout run within the race. Early Friday afternoon, we crammed into a small, white van, and watched out the windows at the colorful scenery of Langdon, New Hampshire. The recently turned trees bursted red, orange and yellow into our eyes. The sun was blazing intently down as it had for the past few days. Handmade banners and balloons were put out along the fence lining the track. We soon found out they were actually for the football game later that night. It was a decent race for everyone. Both teams took the win. Though it was a small achievement, it gave us an accomplishment for the day. After heckling some pigs and wanting to pet the goats, the team headed back towards Swanzey. We sucked on lollipops and bopped our heads to some music coming from the speaker. Though the boys hate our karaoke time, we sang at the top of our lungs, letting everyone in the van regret letting us back on.
On Saturday, we arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for our long run. Heading down the Keene Rail Trail, we did an 80 minute run including a progression. The morning was beautiful, with a cool breeze and significant shade. After completely spending our energy, the team went to help with the middle school meet. It was full of choccy milk, syrup drinking and music blasting fun. Autumn is the best time of year. It is the hard days, and the easy ones that make a season great. Whether the race be unbearable, or the workout full of torture, it makes us who we are.
We are the Monadnock Huskies!