By Anna Bentley
Fall. Everything within this period sparks imagination and memories. It’s hard to convey the feelings of the season through mere words. After a long summer of toil and hard-work, a cool breeze floats over New England, letting it sigh a breath of relief. For the Monadnock Huskies, this means cross country. Some consider it a sport that consists of running around trails in the woods or on grass fields. Yet for those that haven’t experienced it, they cannot understand what fall really
means to runners around New Hampshire. It means opportunity, dedication, and togetherness.
For most of our athletes, the past few months have been nothing but nonstop action. Between vacationing and working, there hasn’t been much of a chance for us to train together. The majority of the team was able to come together by the second week of preseason, and joyfully reminisce of the time we had lost by not being together. Our dynamic is oddly different from last year, though we only lost one senior. On the boys side, the numbers have shrunk significantly. However, that
hasn’t discouraged their spirit. Struggling to find numbers for scoring is something they haven’t had to experience in many years, but it is not foreign to the Huskies.
On the girl’s side, we have not only gained a few freshmen, but did not lose any graduating seniors last year. It is a relatively young team, and one that is sure to perform for the next couple of years. We are excited to have our chance to score well as a team, which is something we have only just been able to taste as of last year. The season isn’t just about the scoring, or the placement of each athlete throughout the races. It’s about enjoying the sport, and making memories as a team.
If our thoughts are only on the competition, the love of running could fizzle out within weeks of pre-season. We are focusing on running for a greater purpose than our personal goals. That purpose being for the team. This spirit picks each other up when we fall, and cheers loudly for a fellow runner who’s about to obtain a PR. Being a team takes heart, and a selflessness that can require many years to develop. Yet, we find it is already among us.
Practice began on August 22, a day that will soon be a distant memory. Surprisingly, the heat had subsided for a short while, and clouds covered the sky. We met under the pavilion, as though we were having deja vu all over again. Not much had changed since the last time we had congregated together. Faces were familiar, and smiles had been omnipresent. We were instructed by Coach Joslyn to warm-up for eight minutes, and meet down at the track for dynamics. We took to the trail behind the school, dodging branches and fallen trees that we should really get around to cleaning up.
After this, it was time for our long run. The girl’s team ran down the shadowed rail trail (that points towards Winchester), for thirty-two minutes. The goal was to come back in twenty-eight minutes, making the run exactly an hour. The first long run of the year proved to be difficult, but only gave us more determination for
On Tuesday, our team was split up to running different distances, but at a relaxed and easy pace. The length ranged from 4 to 7 miles. Wednesday’s workout revealed who went too hard the day before, challenging us with mile repeats at the infamous cemetery. Over the season, this workout destination changes drastically. In the beginning of the season, it is a sun baked desert. Yet by October, the cemetery is a cold and colorful setting. The whole team ran over together, dodging cars while we crossed the road.
The workout was easy, and very familiar to our ears: three to four mile repeats around the grave at a steady tempo pace. The mile back to the school was to test our endurance at the same pace. The majority of us finished with flying colors, but the sun was harsh on our backs, and unforgiving to some.
Friday was as easy and relaxed as they come. The boys and girls split up, both running a different direction for the duration of thirty minutes. Afterwards, we were excited to hear about our time-trial the next morning at the beloved Swanzey Lake. Our meet at Fall Mountain had been canceled, so we had decided to get a hard effort in without the stress of an official race. Coach split everyone into two teams, competing against each other for “bragging rights”. There was the Fast Five who adorned themselves with orange, and Blue Cheese who clearly wore blue. The morning was quite humid, but the sunlight was stunning on the sparkling waters of the lake. Both teams ran their hardest, however, Blue Cheese became the reigning victor.
After a nice, long weekend, we gathered on Monday in the oppressive heat that we had avoided on Saturday. We were initially told it was a long run, but the sour faces made Coach reconsider the mileage for such a warm hour. Instead, we ran for 55 minutes, seeking out as much shade as possible. Following this was a quick workout on the track that consisted of 3 by 800 meters, and 4 by 200 meters.
The next day wasn’t much better. The weather had not changed in the slightest bit, and the sun seemed to be mocking us as it hung in the sky. Thankfully, we had another rest day, running a slow thirty five minutes. In the middle of this run, we took an impromptu swim in the river that runs through Swanzey, while ignoring the smell and rumors of disgusting items beneath the surface.
Wednesday held a workout that had a mysterious secret. It was a whole lot harder than we initially thought. Our younger teammates did a ten minute warm-up to the thousand meter repeats through our very own trail in the woods. The older athletes went out for a thirty-six minute run that was in between tempo and easy. Most everyone completed 4 to 6 repeats at race pace. Even though it was challenging, we enjoyed the scenic loop that ran along the sandy, dried up river and through the mounds of dead grass left from the lawn mower. To finish it off, we had 4 by 200 meter sprints on the track to quicken up the pace a scooch.
On Thursday, our group of girls ran the Whitcomb loop, which will stay timeless for eternity. The same houses, dogs and people are always there to give us that little boost we need to finish. We met the boys and Coach at Simeneau Lane, a place we struggle to pronounce, for some twelve second hill sprints.
On Friday, we traveled to a racing experience that we had never tried before. Mascenic held a relay race, where two person teams ran a .75 mile loop three times each. The winning relay team was gifted an eclectic prize, and the overall fastest team was awarded a stunning wooden trophy that will last in their trophy cases for years to come. It was an amusing day, and a good way to change things up while getting running some fast times early in the season.
We were given the day off on Saturday, and woke up bright and early to help with Elijah’s race on Sunday. This half-marathon starts at our very own school and runs through three of the covered bridges, taking the participants through Swanzey’s finest roads. Three of our athletes ran the whole 13.1 miles, while the others cheered from the side lines.
The beginning of the cross country season holds an excitement and anticipation of the Autumn months. The chance to be together and have fun is something that will soon be a fond memory. They say these are the best days of our lives, and the Huskies like to treat them as such.