2017-2018 Distance Blog

We are going to post a monthy blog, about training/racing/team, written by a different coach or senior, each month, throughout the year. 
This blog will cover the writer’s thoughts and observations as they compete and train throughout the year.

 

The Month of October - Catie Anderson


    October is an important month. The cross country season is in full swing. The transition from summer to school is over. There is now consistency in everything from our schedules to our mileage. This month is the time to focus on the sharpness of training. This month is the time to build up for what is right around the corner, championship season.

    For seniors, this month was especially stressful and busy. While training for upcoming meets and doing loads of schoolwork, you must put in time for your college process. College is seen through a whole new perspective when you are seeking to be a student athlete. While visiting campus, you must ask yourself, “Is this the place where I can progress within my studies and my running?” Some of us had the opportunity to get on campuses for overnight stays. This gave a glimpse into the lives of the students. We got the chance to walk around with a host, stay in their dorm, and practice with the team. It was very interesting to shortly experience the overall dynamics of these different teams.

    The month began with our first race back at Holmdel Park on October 9th for Shore Conference B North Champs. We know this course like the back of our hands. This park was our resort on those scorching hot summer days for hill repeats, tempo loops, or miles around the bowl. When it is time to run here, we are prepared. On the day of the race, it was very humid and muggy out, but we still came out successful. Our varsity girls team won their 12th Division title in 19 years of being in the Shore Conference. The varsity boys placed second. The junior varsity boys and girls both had strong races. It was also great exposure for the freshmen running the 2 mile loop for the first time.

    A week later, we were back at Holmdel for Monmouth County Champions. Our varsity placed second for the girls and fourth for the boys. We had two of our girls in the top five. The junior varsity boys were able to place fourth. Also, the freshman boys and girls showed incredible strength with the boys placing second and the girls placing third.

    Our last race of October was back at Ocean County Park for Shore Conference Champions. Rather than using our strength, like we would on hills, we used our speed on this course because of how flat it is. The temperature was low fifties with slight wind gusts. The varsity girls placed second with a team average of 19:02 and the varsity boys were eighth with a team average of 16:46. The junior varsity girls were ninth place and the boys junior varsity a team was 4th place. I thought it was a great race to end the month with!

    Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love the idea of drinking hot chocolate while watching a great horror movie or coming up with creative costume ideas. When you add cross country into the mix, it makes the month even more enjoyable. It allows us to come together as a team and enjoy the festivities.

    That is what cross country is about, coming together as a whole. When we are running on that course, every individual counts. That is why it is important to not only run for yourself, but for the teammates that share the same energy to reach certain goals. It is amazing to see the contribution of hard work from everyone build up into something much more powerful.

    Until next month… GO COUGARS😺!! :))

   

 

The Sweet Smell of September - Delia Russo


As a senior, along with the start of September comes a bittersweet feeling. This is our last high school cross country season. These are the last times we will toe the line with our high school teammates and friends next to us. These are the last times we will huddle up before a race and scream “Cougars!” at the end of our team chant. This is the last time we will get to practice in our costumes on Halloween. The last times we get to prove ourselves racing the 5k distance.


The quick transition students must make from the relaxing months of summer filled with trips to the beach and vacations, over to the stressful months of school filled with endless homework and late nights spent studying can be quite overwhelming. Add cross country into the mix and the fatigue throughout the entire team will be evident within the first week of school. You have to start getting up much earlier which not only throws your body off but also makes practice that much harder to get through during the seemingly long month of September. But with loads of determination and hopes of a strong championship season in the back of our minds, we managed to come out alive.


September was a great month for our entire team. The freshmen were able to get their feet wet and experience the excitement of high school both on the XC course and in the classroom; the seniors were there to help them along the way.


Our first race was a class meet on the 14th at Ocean County Park. It wasn’t unbearably hot, the temperature being in the low 70s, however, it was humid, the grass was thick, and there were a few mud puddles that may or may not have eaten up a couple of spikes throughout the eight races. Each class ran well for it being our first race of the season.


The next week the team split up. The JV girls went to the Osprey Invite at Stockton, the varsity girls made the two hour trip up to New York for the Bowdoin Park XC Classic, and the boys, as well as the rest of the girls, headed to the Thompson Park class meet. The JV girls, running Varsity, placed ninth with decent weather conditions and on a flat course. The varsity girls placed third running against some good northeast teams we will see again when we come back to the famously hilly course in late November. Hopefully, then we will be able to show off our hard training and possibly qualify for NXN in Oregon. At the Thompson Park class meet the boys and girls racing all had great days, especially for still adjusting to race pace in the heat.


The last race of September was none other than the Six Flags Wild Safari Invitational. Despite the rather muddy conditions throughout the wooded part of the course, everyone did great. The varsity girls came in first, JV girls and varsity boys in second, the JV boys in 5th, the freshmen boys in fourth, and the freshmen girls in seventh. Six Flags is one of the most fun meets of the season. The atmosphere is always exciting as we get to race against teams we won’t see until MOC, as well as teams from New York and Pennsylvania. The course wasn’t the same as years in the past, so we didn’t get to see as many animals as usual, however this year we were lucky enough to see a sloth hanging around before our races!


Even though sloths are pretty cool, my favorite part of September is definitely seeing the hard work put in during the summer finally starting to pay off. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it”. I have never heard something truer.


Although summer training may seem like a tiny dot on the timeline of a high school cross country season, it is so much more. It is your foundation for the rest of the season. You build up your endurance over the summer with higher mileage, then once school starts you gradually begin to cut down on mileage and increase your sharpness. September is the beginning of what you have been working towards all summer. The miserable long runs in the scorching heat, the cumulative HOURS of core, the distance runs that seemed to last forever were all for something much greater that many non-runners may not understand.


I believe the endless work you put in during the summer is for so much more than just wanting to place high in the state meet or win the sectional title. I believe we run to prove the tiny devil on our shoulders wrong. I believe we run to push ourselves to our breaking points, and then when we reach that point, we push ourselves even further. Sure, to outsiders running may seem like a mere physical activity, but in truth, it is a constant raging battle between body and mind. Many look forward to racing in September and seeing their times from last year significantly drop, but my favorite part about getting back into cross country racing is seeing how my metal strength has grown. That, I believe, is the greatest test of how hard you worked during the summer.


For our team specifically, September has thrown many obstacles our way. Whether it be a wave of sickness and minor injuries, or a stress fracture of our top varsity girl, we have been continuing to work hard, on the trails and in the pool, and have no doubt in our minds that we will continue our streak of Group III State titles as well as be a strong contender for a high podium finish at MOC.


Now, let’s “fall” forward into a strong second half of this already exciting 2018 cross country season.



July/August - Jim Schlentz 

When I think of July and August, it reminds me that it is a new beginning.  A new year of hopes and dreams.  A new year of training and competing,
believing in the possibilities that a new year can bring.  It is a time where we don’t have school but we do have to get up early or push back dinner
so we can get our run in.  It’s a time of battling the heat, extreme sweating, constant thirst, with the simple question, why am I doing this to myself? 
We are driven by all the dreams that a new year can bring.  Always beginning with the word If.  If I train as hard as possible, can I run ____?  If I stay
healthy can I___?  We run, knowing that it can all end in sickness or injury, but still we believe in all that is possible.

Let’s look at some words for a second.

Conviction – a fixed or strong belief

Belief – The mental act, condition or habit of placing trust or confidence in a person or thing, faith

Faith – A confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing

Heart – Inner strength or character; fortitude

Fortitude – Strength of mind that allows one to endure pain or adversity with courage

Courage – The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger with self-possession, confidence and resolution

Resolution – Firm determination

Determination – The quality of being resolute or firm in purpose

 

Are these just words or are they something to live by?  Maybe they are tenets for success!

 

I love July and August because it is the start of the journey.  The journey of 2018 – 2019.  Where will it lead us to?   Will it lead us to what we dream of? 
Nobody knows the answer.  What we do know is that it starts with the conviction and belief that all the hard work we are doing and plan to do will pay off. 
Combine that with heart, fortitude, the courage to face our doubts and be resolute and determined in the worst of days, and finally having the faith that it
will end with something real special.  When you do have the inevitable moments of weakness, focus on the sacrifices you’ve made to get all those training
runs completed, the time at XCU Camp, the hundreds of miles run in the summer and then lean on your teammates, your brothers and sisters in this journey,
and find your way back to the words defined above.

Remember what is written on our results page:

It is a world of the individual against himself,
it is his aspirations challenging the capacity of his body. 
There is no enemy but the straining of every muscle. 
It is not a sport, it is a life of work and precision and sometimes
it is rewarded by a cheer or a press clipping. 
But when the press clipping turns yellow,
there will still be the memory of that time,
perhaps only a moment,
when the crowd faded to nothing and the only sound was breathing
and the only feeling was the ache of endurance and pushing,
pushing until the body soared with the mind,
and no one else knew what it was to strive.

July and the first half of August can be lonely months with so many miles run alone.  You have only your convictions and your dreams.  Then, finally, you are
joined by your team in daily practices.  That brings us to September, the next stop on the journey.  And a special journey it is, life!  😊