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Whenever I introduce myself as a cross country runner, one of the reactions I hear most is, “I don’t know how you do it”—to which typically I answer, “I don’t either.” Running competitively, especially long distances, can be both a blessing and a curse.
All jokes aside, as I was preparing for my first season of collegiate cross country earlier this year, I knew that it would be much different than my high school experience. Collegiate cross country for both men’s and women’s races are longer than the standard high school 5k, and balancing workouts and weight lifting in between classes is no easy task. Now, I would be running a 6k, which is only 0.6 miles more than a 5k, but it makes all the difference in racing.
Figuring out how to pace a 6k took more than a couple races, but once my body adjusted to the distance, everything fell into place and the doors of possibility opened.
One of my teammates, Tate, had transferred to Arcadia as a grad student for the PT program and is one of the best runners I have ever trained with. My coach saw the opportunity for us to work together as front-runners in the conference and made it apparent that together, we both would make Arcadia history.
As Tate and I settled in and became close friends, achieving new goals became a joint effort. Right away we broke Arcadia’s 5k record, and Tate quickly set a new 6k record and consistently finished in the top 3 at our major meets. Not long after, I found my grounding and was able to shorten the gap between our times and also break the previous 6k record. By the end of the season, Tate and I became the first two women in program history to achieve All-Conference honors. Tate rounded out to finish second in our conference, while I finished 16th.
When we moved onto Regionals, Tate’s roommate, Kira, joined the team after her soccer season ended, because we needed another person for scoring. With Kira, we became the first women to achieve All-Region honors. Tate held 9th in the region, while I finished 26th and Kira was 33rd. At the end of the race, we also discovered Tate qualified for Nationals, once again, for the first time in program history.
It’s been a huge blessing to be a part of something so special in Arcadia history, and I know this is just the beginning. At the end of the season, the possibilities are still wide open for next year, and that’s something I’ve always loved about running—nothing is set in stone, and so much can be achieved based on your training, decisions, and mindset.