Athlete’s Corner

Athlete Profile: Spencer Moore

November 3rd, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we meet senior All-State runner Spencer Moore.  Spencer has been the top varsity runner at Saint Mary’s since she was a freshman.  A three-time league champion, Spencer has won an individual NCS championship and holds several school records in cross country.  Below, she shares her experience, insights and wisdom about running cross country for the Panthers.

 

How did you get started running cross country at Saint Mary’s? 

        I had already been running track since practically birth, so my dad thought cross country would make me better for track. My oldest sister Amber ran and so I wanted to give it a try and when I did I loved it! I started to notice that it is not an individual sport like track; there’s more concern about the team and running for the girls around you. Also, I would watch Bridget Duffy run when I was little and I just thought she was lightening fast. I look up to her and it inspired me to run.  I wanted to have that same attitude and toughness that she has.  

What do you like best about cross country at Saint Mary’s?

       I like that we are one unit. We all know each other’s goals.  We torture our bodies each day for ourselves as well as for the girl that steps on the line next to you.  In our crazy, psychotic minds, it is worth it. 

What is your favorite workout? 

        My favorite workout would have to be mile repeats or thousands around the parking lot. Both are  difficult and resembles the types of hill running that we experience on other courses during the season. 

What is your favorite Pre-race dinner? Pre-race ritual? 

        My favorite pre-race dinner would have to be a SUPER burrito from Gordo’s with Beans, cheese, rice, guacamole, and salsa. It’s the best!  If I go without it for more than a week I go crazy. 

        My pre-race ritual is that I draw my own map of the course and write notes of what I will do when I get to that point in the race so when I get into a race I have things in my mind to keep me focused.  Another thing that I am trying to do more often is visualization. I play the race in my head and try to put the notes I wrote into a video. I also write post-its to put on the back of my door so that every morning before I leave I remember why I am running. 

What is your favorite course? 

        My favorite courses are Woodbridge and the State meet course. Woodbridge is under the lights and it is just a fun and fast course to run. You feel the tension of each athlete and the importance of it. It’s so official.

        I like the State course as well because you are racing against the best of the best. You get to see where you are in a group of girls who have the same goal as you. You finally get to show off all of the hard work you have put in this season.  (Lifting at seven in the morning, going on 90 minute runs every Saturday, etc..)  The State course inspires you to want to make it on the podium with the girls that you love most.. the girls of MOB squad, of MFF, of BUBS, and now in 2013: SWAT.  

What has been the highlight of your season thus far? 

        The highlight of my season thus far would have to be my finish at the Clovis Invitational. I felt strong and fast. 

Do you have a favorite story you could share about one of your coaches or teammates? 

        My favorite story would have to be at a league meet. I stayed with the girls on my team as a light day because my toe was bothering me. Throughout the whole race we where talking and doing some surges. When we got to the middle of mile two we all decided that we would finish in a straight line and it will just be a huge tie. When we got about a hundred meters away from the finish line we all positioned ourselves to go threw with it. But then coming down the straight-a-way Amanda starts sprinting! She completely passes all of us and wins the race! And then tried to say “I didn’t mean to.” That was the first league meet that I have lost. But it was worth it. I had a lot of fun and got to see a big smile on her face. I’m not sure I;ve gotten over it (ha! ha!), but I will get over it…eventually! 

 What advice would you give to a new runner? 

        The advice that I would give to a new runner is enjoy the years that you have the people around you. Try not to take things as seriously like I do because it just adds a lot of pressure and stress that will not make you any better or faster.  Know what you are working.  You might not win, but being able to walk off of that course having no regrets and no thought of “If only I…” is the best thing in the world.  Also, have a little bit of ‘swagger’ and ‘attitude’ (as Mr. Mohun puts it) because that helps you get mentally tougher when it comes to a big race. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

      Yes. These have been the best four years of my life.  I have made friends that will last a lifetime. I am sad to see this season go by so fast. I know this sounds cliche, but I will truly miss all of you ladies and I love you all so much.  

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Athlete Profiles: Mischa Vernon-Wyatt and Jon DeLeon

 
Today’s profile features seniors Mischa Vernon-Wyatt and Jon DeLeon.  Both Mischa and Jon are having very good seasons thus far… and both have big aspirations as the post season approaches.  Below they share their insights, thoughts and advice about running cross country.

How did you get started running cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

Mischa: I started running Cross Country at the beginning of this season. Last March I did distance track, and I loved it. I also really loved the group of girls, and I wanted to spend another season with them.

Jon: I started running track my eighth grade year at Saint David’s. I didn’t take it all that seriously but at the end of the season my coach suggested I try cross country in high school. I had no idea what Cross Country was, but sure enough I started running my freshman year. I’ve been running ever since.

What do you like best about cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

Mischa: I love the camaraderie. A lot of people think that running is an individual sport, and in many ways it is, but we push each other to achieve our personal bests and grow as a team. Also, I think we have an incredibly dedicated coaching staff; they really care about each individual athlete and I think that’s what makes us so successful.

Jon: The people. I run with some very interesting people that are all very different and that come from different backgrounds. The friends that I’ve made in cross country have become some of my best friends at Saint Mary’s. All the coaches have also been supportive and great role models to me.

What is your favorite workout?

Mischa: I love four hundred repeats. I used to be a sprinter so it’s always fun to have shorter, faster workouts. Even though Tuesdays are tough, I often look forward to pushing myself and feeling myself improve.

Jon: I would have to say long runs and other longer workouts. Whether it’s the hilly, long 10-mile Kellen’s Nature Run in Tilden, a 9-mile progression run around Lake Merritt, or a new favorite Bay Bridge Run, I know that we’ll be running somewhere interesting.  It’s definitely a big part of why I love cross country. Also, I thrive on longer runs. I’m challenged both physically and mentally to stay strong and finish the workout.

What is your favorite pre race dinner? Pre-race ritual?

Mischa: I usually have chicken and pasta, or chicken and rice. It’s important to get some carbs and protein in your body. I try to relax the night before the race, so I usually don’t think about it too much. I watch movies, or hang out with my friends to lighten the mood and ease the nerves. I always take three deep breaths on the starting line before the gun goes off.

Jon: Pasta with marinara sauce,with some kind of meat, usually chicken or beef, and fruits and vegetables is a must the night before a big race. Before my race, I like to talk with teammates. I know we’re about to battle it out together, so I often talk running strategy and times with them. Warming up, I found that listening to music gets me pumped. Taking stretching and drills seriously gets me in the racing mindset.

What is your favorite course?

Mischa: Since it is only my first year, I have only run on a few! But I loved Woodbridge. It was flat, and it was nighttime, which made it more intense.

Jon: The 5K course at Woodward Park in Fresno, home of both the Clovis Invitational and State Championships, would have to be my favorite course. It has a mix of flat straightaways, rolling hills, and bigger uphills to make it very unique. It challenged me last year, but this year I came back and ran a decent 17:17 (at the Clovis Invite) there. I hope to do even better at State later this season.

What has been the highlight of your running career thus far?

Mischa: I would definitely have to say Woodbridge. I felt very focused during this race and I believed in myself. Having that mental confidence can set you apart from your competitors.

Jon:  Running down at the Woodbridge Invitational in Southern California. The race and course itself was a highlight, being an absolutely flat 3 mile course. What made it really cool was the fact that we ran it at night.  For me, it was special because I got a huge PR of 16:35. For the first time this season, it showed me that I could have major potential on our team and that my hard has really paid off.

Do you have a favorite story you could share about one of the coaches or your teammates?

Mischa: It’s hard to choose one because our team has so much fun everyday. We are always laughing at something. But I think one of my favorite memories was from the last day of running camp this summer. We were dying of exhaustion, and were all pretty ready to go home. There was supposed to be a dance that night but there was a large thunder and lightening storm. The power went out, so we had to play music through tiny little speakers. “Don’t Stop Believing” came on and we all just jammed out. We were dancing like crazy even though we were all slightly unhinged from exhaustion. I made a complete fool of myself dancing, but I honestly didn’t care. It was awesome!

Jon:  There’s an endless amount of stories to tell, but one that sticks out is from our summer mountain training in Twain Harte. We go up there for a couple of days to run in a higher altitude, stay together in the cabin, and have fun at the lake. This year, we were at the lake when a few of us went to drink at the water fountain. When Mickey was drinking from the fountain, a bee landed very close to his face, so he jumped away and screamed in a way that only Mickey could. It was a very unique scream, of course. We thought it was pretty funny, so when Nabai went to drink, Mickey kept on repeating the scream, so all we could do was just start laughing. Nabai couldn’t help but die of laughter as well, and in turn couldn’t get a sip in. Mickey kept doing it for the rest of the day, likely annoying the lifeguards and other patrons.

What advice would you give to a new runner?

Mischa: You’re going to have bad races, and good races. This is just how running works: you can’t always be on your A game. The hardest part about running is staying strong through the hard parts. And if you do, I promise that something incredible will come from that mental toughness.

Jon:  You get out of Cross Country what you put into it. You have to stay motivated and committed to see results and to be successful, which is also a life lesson. It reminds you that if you have something difficult ahead of you, try and think positively about it and it will make it easier to accomplish. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Mischa: I wish I had joined Cross Country earlier!  This is my first year and already my last.  That sucks.  It’s an awesome sport and you will meet some of your best friends. Anyone can be a runner.

Jon: In Cross Country, as well as other endeavors in life, go the extra mile. Just because you’re tired or don’t think you can do more…. most likely you can do more.  Don’t stop and don’t give up.  Cross country will show you have initiative, and it will get you much further than you could have ever dreamt of going!

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Athlete Profiles: Maddy Woelffer and Jovani Barajas

          
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Today’s profile features seniors Maddy Woelffer and Jovani Barajas.  Both Maddy and Jovani are experienced runners, having participated in league, North Coast and State level races. Below they share their insights, thoughts and advice about running cross country.

 

How did you get started running cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

Maddy: I started running cross country at Saint Mary’s because, since third grade at Corpus Christi, I’ve been running. So, I decided to just stick with it. Also, my cousins and siblings all ran for the team, so I was kind of expected to run.

Jovani: Going into my sophomore year, I finished summer conditioning for football when, after a lot of thought, I decided not to play.  Knowing I wanted to do track in the spring, I approached Coach Lawson and asked if there was anything I could do to stay in shape. The next day I found myself running a 3 mile tempo run.

What do you like best about cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

Maddy: What I love most about cross country and Saint Mary’s is my team. We get along so well which makes getting through hard races and workouts so much easier. I think part of the reason we are so successful is because of our team dynamic.

Jovani: I would have to say it is the trips. The trips include my teammates and my favorite high school memories. Every trip always exceeds my expectation.  We always have so much fun.  Then, on Monday’s long run I feel refreshed and motivated to continue running. 

What is your favorite workout?

Maddy: My favorite workouts have always been long runs. I especially love the ridge run because we get to pick blackberries in the middle of our workout!

Jovani: I love the hard Tuesday workouts because it tests us as a team. No matter how much pain you’re feeling, there is always a teammate running by your side to keep you going.  Slowing down is not an option. Also, the hill we run is pretty close to the hill on the NCS course.  I think we gain confidence by running it and hopefully it will give our team an advantage in trying to reach our season goal of winning NCS.

What is your favorite pre race dinner? Pre-race ritual?

Maddy: My pre race dinner is usually a lot of protein and carbs- so usually a big bowl of pasta and some steak or chicken.

Jovani: I make sure I eat a good amount of carbs the night before my race, which ends up being pasta or brown rice. They are both really easy to cook so I don’t mind asking my mom to cook it. I also have chicken because of the protein it provides. My pre-race ritual is going online and watching races of super fast runners splitting faster than my PR enroute to a distance 2 or 3 times longer. I do this because it makes running look easy (which is what I try to convince myself every race!)

What is your favorite course?

Maddy:  I like the Woodbridge course.  It’s flat, fast, dark… and I got my PR there!

Jovani: My favorite course is actually Point Pinole. A good portion of my summer running is done in that park, which gives me confidence when running races there. I’ve also had a lot of personal success on that course and, because it’s the league championships, everyone usually runs really fast there.

What has been the highlight of your running career thus far?

Maddy: The highlight of my running career was when the boys and girls team drove down to Newport Beach to race the Woodbridge Invitational. We raced at 8:45 PM under the lights and I broke 21 minutes on a three mile course, which was an all time PR for me.

Jovani: My highlight has to be my sophomore year at the league championships. All season I finished behind Arlo Rudy. Fortunately for me he ran in the faster JV race so I ended up winning the frosh-soph race.  That gave me a lot of confidence in racing longer distances.

Do you have a favorite story you could share about one of the coaches or your teammates?

Maddy: Some of my favorite stories to tell about my team happened at the running camp we went to this summer. One of my favorites was, during the second night, when there was a thunder and lightening storm. We were in little cabin tents that were not protective at all; water was dripping on poor Ella all night long. Whenever lightening struck, we all screamed at the top of our lungs- Spencer kept getting mad at us because apparently we were “over reacting” and all she wanted to do was sleep. I remember being so scared that Natalia and I had to sleep in the same twin bed. On top of all of this, some animal was trying to get into our cabin, we could hear it scratching the wall right next to Lianne’s bed. This was completely terrifying at the time, but a hilarious story to tell now. 

Jovani: It would have to be this year down at Balboa Beach after our race at Woodbridge. The girl’s team was burying Julia English and making her into a starfish, when I see two foreign guys approach the group. Seeing this as an opportunity to make things awkward, I invited them to join us as we were taking team photos. It was funny because the girl’s thought they were creepy and Mickey tried to get them to join the Cross Country team. 

What advice would you give to a new runner?

Maddy: Try and be as mentally strong as possible. A lot of cross country is trying to stay completely positive and constantly encourage yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.  Push your limits to become the best runner you can be. 

Jovani: Use every week as motivation to continue running. Seeing progress shows that hard work really pays off. Unless you have crazy talent, chances are you won’t run a sub-5 minute mile your first time trying it. But, if you just listen to what your coaches tell you and show up to practice everyday, reaching your goal will seem more and more realistic every race. The key is patience and dedication.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Maddy:  Don’t be afraid to try cross country.  Chances are you’ll really like it.

Jovani: Enjoy every moment of running you do! For many of us, it is the fastest we will be in our entire lives so really take advantage of the coaches advice to maximize your capabilities. I always feels awkward at the end of each season when I don’t go into the locker rooms after school to change into my running clothes. So find the positive side of every run before it is too late!

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Athlete Profiles: Nabai Habtemariam & Josh Dull

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Toady’s profile features two juniors: Nabai Habtemariam and Josh Dull.  Both Nabai and Josh are in their 3rd year of running at Saint Mary’s and both had fantastic races at last Saturday’s North Coast Section Meet of Champions.   Below they share their insights, thoughts and advice about running cross country.

How did you get started running cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

Nabai:  At freshman orientation, Nate Hill walked up to me and said that I should consider running cross country.  I did not really want to do it, but I said I would consider it.  School began soon after that encounter and I met Lawrence Teng, a fellow freshman at the time.  Lawrence was already on the cross country team.  I did not know him at all at first, but as soon as he found out that I was considering joining, he asked me the same thing every day for weeks: “So when are you going to join?”  After a couple weeks, I finally succumbed and went to speak to Mr. Lawson about joining.

Josh:   I started running because my brother ran, and coming into Saint Mary’s I was expected to run so I did.   I liked it so I kept coming to practice

What do you like best about cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

Nabai:  I really like the team.  They are like my brothers.  Each person has something unique that they bring into the group.  I always look forward to practice because of the amazing people that make up the team.  I know every time I go to practice or meet up with the guys inside or outside of school, they will make me laugh and we will all have a great time.

Josh:  What I like best about cross country at Saint Mary’s would have to be my teammates. We always make fun of each other, but we all love each other.   I’ve become very close to my teammates, and have some crazy memories which I’ll never forget.

What is your favorite workout?

Nabai:  My favorite workout is probably the easy 40-50 minute run that we do on Wednesdays.  Pretty much every Wednesday we run to and on the Cal campus.  I love these runs because we can just relax and socialize.  These types of runs help keep me sane when school is feeling hard, and I am tired from homework and maybe the hard workouts we do on Tuesdays.  They are a big part of why I love running in general.

Josh:   I would say my favorite workout is any workout that’s not hard. I’m not a real big fan of long or fast pace workouts.   I like the slow easy workout, when we can talk and have fun during the run.

What is your favorite pre race dinner? Pre-race ritual?

Nabai:  My favorite pre-race dinner is the one that we eat before Clovis and the State Meet.  Everyone always gets the parmesan chicken and pasta.  For most meets, I usually don’t have a specific thing that I eat.  I just generally try to eat a lot of carbs so I’ll have energy for the race.  I only have one pre-race ritual.  I watch a lot of motivational running videos on Youtube the night before a race.  They usually don’t do much though because in the middle of a difficult race, trivial motivators like the ones you’ll find on Youtube won’t help you.  Your motivation has to be internal.

Josh:  My pre-race dinner is anything my mom decides to make me that night, but most of the time its pasta.  My pre-race ritual is, the night before the race I go onto Youtube and watch motivational running videos to get me mentally prepared for the race.

What is your favorite course?

Nabai:  I like the state meet course at Woodward Park.  I haven’t had a good race there yet, but ever since I jogged the course sophomore year the day before the Clovis Invitational, I knew I was going to like it.  As most people on the team know, I am a running fanatic.  I find it awesome that I am running the same course that many other great runners have ran before me.

Josh:  I like the Clovis course because only big races are run there and I’m a big race runner.

What has been the highlight of your running career thus far?

Nabai: The highlight of my running career was probably during track season my freshman year when I won my heat in the 1600m race at the Dan Gabor Distance Festival.  I didn’t run very fast, but I didn’t know that at the time so it felt amazing to win.  That race started me on the path to becoming a running fanatic because I realized I had no idea what a fast mile time was (my time was 5:27 that day).  I set out to find out more about the sport and now I am where I am today: completely addicted to running.

Josh: I would have to say the highlight of my running career was my sophomore year when we had a race up at Tilden.  It was raining and super muddy and my shoe came off  half way into the race.  I didn’t feel like putting it back on so I finished the race with only one shoe.

Do you have a favorite story you could share about one of the coaches or your teammates?

Nabai: The Disneyland trip after Mt. SAC this year was a great experience. A specific part that I really enjoyed was going on various rides and doing funny poses or gestures as a team so that the hidden cameras at the end of the ride would take a funny picture of us.  During the trip, Patrick Mariolle helped me to remember the little things that made the trip great that one might not think about.  For example, when we were in line practicing how to pose for the pictures on the rides or when Jovani would find people around Disneyland that looked like people we knew from school and he would treat them as if they were the person we knew, created awkward yet hilarious situations.

Josh: Mt. Sac + Me + Grapes + Window + Angry Man  = Greatest Cross Country Moment Ever!  I can’t say anymore.

What advice would you give to a new runner?

Nabai: Stay positive throughout your career as a runner.  If you want to be good, unless you are very talented, it will take some time.  In that time you will face obstacles, but all you can do is find a way past them and move on.  No one will give you success.  At the Mt. SAC race this year, I asked a very successful runner from Northgate, who happened to be staying at our hotel, how he got so good.  He had won or almost won a few of the races that our team had run this season such as the Farmer Invitational and Ed Sias Invitational.  I thought he might tell me something specific that he did that made him really good.  Instead, he told me the truth.  He simply worked really hard, and eventually it paid off.

Josh: My advice to a new runner is pretty simple: just don’t give up.  When you’re in pain you just gotta push through it.  Also, always use the bathroom before you run.  If you don’t it could get ugly.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Nabai:  If you stick with running, you will learn a lot about yourself.  That sounds cliché and at first, I myself did not believe it.  However, it is true.  When you are grinding through the last few minutes of a race, your true colors will show and it is feels great to find out things about yourself that you didn’t know before.

Josh: Just have fun and try your hardest because you never know what could happen.

 

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Athlete Profile: Barbara Montano

Toady’s profile features junior Barbara Montano.  Barbara is a 3rd year runner and the captains of this year’s junior varsity girls team.  Below she shares her insights, thoughts and advice.

 

How did you get started running cross country?

When I came to Saint Mary’s my freshman year I hadn’t ever been committed to a sport, but I wanted to join a team in high school to get fit and have a new experience. I was going to do tennis, but realized I would have to know how to play first, so I went to the cross country meeting. After the meeting I asked Ms. Jack, who was the JV girls coach that year, if the sport was a good fit for someone who had never done a sport before, and she said it was a perfect fit. After the first practice, I just kept coming back.

What do you like best about cross country?

That’s an easy question; what I like best about cross country at Saint Mary’s is the people that make up the team. What drives me to keep coming back and do well is the amazing teammates and coaches and their love for the sport and everyone on the team.

What is your favorite workout?

I think my favorite workout would be a long run or a long run with intervals. I usually feel the best and most confident as a runner when I can go out and run long distances.

Do you have a pre-race dinner? 

My pre-race dinner usually ends up being either pasta with salad, or a turkey burger with some kind of vegetable.

What would you say has been the highlight for you, thus far, as a member of the track/cross country team?

The highlight of my running career thus far happened last year, during track season, when I ran my fastest mile time ever. The meet was taking a really long time, so by the time I raced it was about 9 o’clock at night! I wanted to P.R. so badly that I started out the race by leading it-which was the first time I had ever lead a race. It was one of my best races ever, and it was my best time ever. I had no idea how amazing it would feel to finally get the time I wanted.

Do you have a favorite cross country story? 

It’s hard to have a favorite story, because I have so many good memories from cross country at Saint Mary’s. A funny one that happened just recently was, we had just gotten back from running our second Time Trial in Tilden when Ms. Pacatte lost the key to the van. Somehow it was lost when she got out of the van and was nowhere to be found. We spent almost an hour looking for the key. It was crazy, silly, and funny, and only something like that would happen to our team!

What advice would you give to a new runner? 

I would advise a new runner to stick with it. If you put your heart and soul into it, cross country will be the most difficult and most rewarding experience of your life. There is nothing better than conquering a test you have challenged yourself to, and being able to share your happiness with a team of people that care and love you so much.

 

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Athlete Profile: Guy Forte

Toady’s profile features senior Guy Forte.  Guy is a 2nd year varsity runner and one of the co-captains of this year’s varsity boys team.  Below he shares his insights, thoughts and advice.

How did you get started running cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

During the summer of my freshmen year I tried football conditioning camp, and was driven to the point of such exhaustion that I quit in disgrace. Luckily I had a great stroke of luck when Eddie Hill, long time cross country runner and Nate Hill’s older brother, was my senior leader on the freshmen orientation. He came up to me and asked me whether I was doing any sports, and I told him no because football had disillusioned me. He told me I should do cross country and without any reason not to, I showed up for the first day of freshmen practice, having never ran before, and went from there.

What do you like best about cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

I know this point has probably been articulated countless times, but the feeling of comradeship amongst your teammates is the best part of cross-country. You often enter the team strangers or acquaintances, but the beautiful, binding thing about cross-country is that, through sweat, hard work, and pain, you form a lasting connection with your teammates. Most of my friends are on the cross-country team, and I tend to gravitate towards other runners just because of that solidarity we all share. Other then that, the immense feeling of satisfaction from finishing a work out well, or running well in a race is addictive, and a driving reason behind why my runs are the highlight of my day.

What is your favorite workout?

The day before the state race we drive down to the Clovis course and run it before heading off to dinner. It is always my favorite run of the year because I know its my last workout of the year, and to know state is right around the corner makes it exhilarating. Knowing that the 20 minutes of the run could be the last time you ever run with your teammates is a saddening, yet accomplishing feeling. Other then that I love doing Kellen’s nature run because it is a 70-minute, 11 mile run that tears you down, but when you finish it you, leaves you feeling elated and elevated.

What is your favorite pre race dinner? Pre-race ritual?

I don’t have a specific pre-race dinner, mostly its pasta, but I have never gone a race day where I haven’t eaten a peanut-butter sandwich. If I missed out on those two I probably wouldn’t know how to find my way to the course. Before every race I listen to The Stooges Raw Power on shuffle because it gets my often-lagging body to pay attention and get focused on running.

 What is your favorite course?

Picking your favorite course is like picking your favorite sickness, because they all have painful memories, but if I had to pick one it would be the Mt. SAC course. It’s incredibly hilly, blazing fast, dusty, hot, and draining, but it’s also the most unique course because at any given time you have hundreds of on-lookers watching you. There is something motivating to know that you have the entire crowd cheering you on, because like you, they know how painful the course is. Also the psychological factor of knowing that you are going to Disneyland the next day is very encouraging.

What has been the highlight of your running career thus far?

Without a doubt, it was the Mt. Sac trip my junior year. Unfortunately it was right around a time when the team was starting to drag under the weight of school so the race wasn’t great, but I couldn’t complain with my performance. Other highlights included running back from the race in the dark down the longest downhill in the entire universe, the chance to meet other schools at the hotel, and then Disneyland, which engendered the infamous “Clam Chowder” incident. It was a blast and if I could I’d relive that weekend any chance I’d get and not change a single thing.

Do you have a favorite story you could share about one of the coaches or your teammates?

This one has to do more with the whole team, but the day after league championships last year, the very first day we brought up Jovani and Arlo, we were trying to make a good impression on them as we ran to the Campanile. We might have ended up emotionally scarring them instead. We tend to, as runners, carry some frustration from our endless pain, and sometimes maybe carry grudges amongst other teammates that are magnified during the process of running. Either way what happened that day was an emotional outpouring of anger, joy, frustration, reconciliation, and exhaustion. I won’t go into too many specifics, but there were quite a few expletives thrown, as well as various fruits and seeds, maybe even a fight between Nabai and I, which I handily lost. But there were also moments where we were laughing hysterically as we commented on everything we saw in our run through Berkeley. It was a metaphysical experience that we are probably actually due for again sometime.

What advice would you give to a new runner?

 Learn to embrace pain, because, believe it our not, it returns the greatest rewards. The moment when you stop fearing pain and start grappling with it is the moment that running has a new psychological light. You realize that pain is truly a mental function and that your body can do extraordinary things when it’s asked to. Whenever you break the pain barrier you come to the point of no return where you can’t quit so you have to finish. Once you get over the shock of being in pain you’ll find that it’s fairly easy to control and then finish a race or a work out with a strength and satisfaction that few other activities can rival. It’s also important to get a ton of sleep and eat a lot of good food because your body will be taxed and it recovers so much faster if you take care of yourself.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Live in the moment to the best of your ability. Cross Country is a mere 11 weeks and it flies by so much faster if you are having fun, so make sure you store away cool memories and feelings, because I know for me personally, I’ll never forget my time with cross country as long as I live, and if you commit to it, I know you never will either.

 

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Athlete Profile: Amanda Keith

Toady’s profile features junior Amanda Keith.  Amanda is in her 2nd year on the varsity girls team and today shares her insights, thoughts and advice below.
 

How did you get started running cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

I got started running cross-country at Saint Mary’s thanks to Maddy Woelffer. I remember freshman year at orientation, we made a deal. If she played soccer then I would run. In the end we both just stuck with running.

What do you like best about cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

The best part about cross country at Saint Mary’s is the team. I love the girls so much and I am always so excited to be at practice because of them. We run hard together and I’ve found it’s always easier to get through a hard practice when you’re surrounded by people that are genuinely  good people.

What is your favorite workout?

My favorite workout is actually the 800 repeats that we do. I like these days because everyone is so encouraging and you can really see what it means to be a team. At the end of them I know that I ran hard and I can feel myself getting stronger.

What is your pre-race dinner?

My pre-race dinner is pretty straight forward. I try to eat a lot of protein. So, I usually have chicken and pasta with a red sauce. Of course, I still have to have some kind of vegetable.

What has been the highlight of your running career thus far?

The highlight of my running career was sophomore year. In between freshman year and sophomore year, during the summer, I put in more miles and I remember those first few weeks practicing with the varsity. It was hard but I knew that the work I put in was being rewarded and I could see myself improving.

Do you have a favorite story you could share about one of the coaches or your teammates?

It’s hard to pick one story because during the year we share some many memories together. But one of my favorites was at the airport coming home from Oregon. We were all so tired because we had a race that day but still we were going crazy. I remember we were running and screaming in the airport and a lot of people were staring but we didn’t care because we were all doing it together and just having a good time. We were also filming our team music video so we were singing and dancing along the people mover. I always have the best time with those girls.

What advice would you give to a new runner?

I would tell them, no matter how much you may want to stop or give up, don’t, because in the end there’s no better feeling then finishing strong and knowing you ran well. I feel like that we could all make that a life lesson as well.

 

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Athlete Profile: Patrick Mariolle

 Toady’s profile features senior Patrick Mariolle.  Patrick is a 3rd year varsity runner and one of the co-captains of this year’s varsity boys team.  Below he shares his insights, thoughts and advice.

 

How did you get started running cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

Coming to Saint Mary’s as a freshman, I knew I wanted to play baseball and soccer, not cross country. After the first few days, it became clear that I had to do something with my time after school. There were a few voices telling me to play football, but after a practice of not knowing play 1 from play 2, that idea was out.  Soon after, I went out to eat with my dad and he suggested cross country. I thought I was a fast kid in middle school, so I gave it a shot.

What do you like best about cross-country at Saint Mary’s?

To be perfectly honest, it’s going out everyday to practice with people who I enjoy spending time with. There is always something going on, always something to talk about. Being able to achieve a common goal with people who want it as bad as you do is special. Having experienced coaches who know how to relate to their runners is also special. They are out there everyday at practice, even when they spend 5 minutes telling us our workout , and waiting 50 min for us to come back (even if they get to practice their golf swings and left handed throws while we are gone, their genuine interest is obvious!) Running in general is also pretty awesome because everyone has something to say to the group of 14 high schoolers running around Oakland and Berkeley.

What is your favorite workout?

My favorite workouts are the Monday long runs. There always seems to be some crazy incident that happens on our 60+ min runs.

What is your favorite pre race dinner? Pre-race ritual?

The night before any race I have to have some sort of pasta. If I don’t have it my whole routine is out of whack. Then in the morning I take a very short cold shower, have a small breakfast, get my sweats on, and get my playlist going on my iPod. Only after this am I ready to go.

What is your favorite course?
My favorite course has to be the one my team runs almost everyday: the time trial course. Yes it’s repetitive, and yes its 2 miles, but I know that course better than any other. Having some success there also makes it one of my favorites. That course jump-started my confidence in my running, and solidified what I thought I could accomplish as a runner.

What has been the highlight of your running career thus far?
The highlight of my running career thus far has been our race at Stanford in 2011 and the weeks that followed. The night before the race we all had a pasta dinner at Nate’s house. Early in the morning we drove out, won the race, and celebrated at Round Table. This day is a glimpse of the fun and loose attitude that comes with being on the Saint Mary’s team. There is so much more to remember than just running. Although very short lived, after that day we were ranked #1 in state. It would be a lie if I said it wasn’t fun to drop that into a conversation once and awhile.

Do you have a favorite story you could share about one of the coaches or your teammates?
Disneyland> Guy Forte > Clam Chowder >. Ask the Varsity team if you still don’t know this one.

What advice would you give to a new runner?
To know that there will always be bad days. Days where you don’t know why you are running and why you do what you do. But understand that you have to know the bad to feel the good, and it feels good to be proud of a race. If you deal with the pain and embrace it, you learn to push past it. Once you experience a race where you can look back and say, I gave it my all and helped my team, you will continue to run for a long time. Continue to practice, continue to fight, and those races will come.

Anything else you’d like to add?
If you are not sure if you are interested in running, give it a shot. You will be surprised how much fun you can have with it, and the special people it puts around you.

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Athlete Profile: Natalia Riccardi

Toady’s profile features senior, 4th year runner Natalia Riccardi.  Natalia is one of the co-captains of this year’s varsity girls team and shares her insights, thoughts and advice below.

 

How did you get started running cross-country at Saint Mary’s?
My cousins who attended Saint Mary’s before me ran, so it was kind of like a family tradition.

What do you like best about cross-country at Saint Mary’s?
The people I’ve met and became life long friends with. When you stand on the starting line with your team, you really know the type of people surrounding you. They are a different type of family. You push through hard practices together, you laugh a lot, and it’s the type of experience that everyone should have.

What is your favorite workout?
Surprisingly, I really like 800 repeats around the parking lot.

What is your pre-race dinner?
Normally it’s pasta, chicken, and salad. Oh, and a glass of milk.

What has been the highlight of your running career thus far?
In terms of racing, I always looked up to Mary (Harrington, class of 12’). She was the person I was supposed to stick with and work with in every workout and race. However, at the league championships that year, I ended up finishing in front of her. I remember passing her on the hill and thinking, what do I do now? Do I wait for her? Do I encourage her? Or do I just keep running. Never before that day did I think I would of beaten her in a race. That day, I saw a whole new runner inside me.

Do you have a favorite story you could share about one of the coaches or your teammates?
The theme that occurs in every story about our team, and in my opinion is one of the things that defines us, is screaming. We are an extremely loud and energetic team. It doesn’t matter if we’re being scared or not, whenever we’re together there will always be some screaming.  Sometimes, it’s a chain reaction like when Amanda saw a snake and within two seconds the whole team was running for their lives, screaming at the top of our lungs. Sometimes, it’s on purpose like a few weeks ago when we were stretching and I  decided that we should all scream on the count of three. Or other times, it’s at the starting line, when we represent our team and yell “BUBS”. No matter what amazing memory or story comes to mind about our team, screaming is always included.


What advice would you give to a new runner?
Don’t give up. As long as you follow that one rule, you will enjoy cross country a whole lot more. At the beginning of the season, your always going to feel like crap and consider giving up. But as the season goes along, you get in better shape, and running becomes a lot more fun, competitive, and easier.