Monday, November 25, 2013

XC Recap, Season Ender: Womp.

On Saturday morning, #1 raced the CIF Southern Section finals. The top 7 schools in each division move on to the state competition in Fresno. Going in, her school was ranked #9 in the state, and 7th in our section. The school we were most concerned about beating was really neck-and-neck with us at prelims, and ranked 10th in the state, and 8th in our section. We were psyched that it was shaping up to be an exciting race, and... I'll admit, a little confident that we would pull it out.

Since I have alllllllll the free time on my hands, I did a lot of number crunching last week, building out fake-meets against our schools, and every way I played with the numbers, we were looking solid.

Saturday, #1 woke up and was practically giddy. She was excited to run, and looked confident. The girl is a head-case runner - seeing her confident to go into this course was great.

Spectating XC is an interesting day. The courses are short, usually 3 miles, and run so fast, that to spectate in a few places, you have to MOVE. Generally, there's a flood of spectators that flee from spot to spot throughout the course to catch their runners as they move through.
Exactly like this....
If you've ever spectated a longer race before, it's exactly like that, but ON SPEED.

The Mt Sac course is pretty loopy for the first 1.5mi, so you can kind of catch the athletes in about 4 locations before they head up the second half. We knew the layout from last week, and had a pretty solid spectating strategy, so we stuck with it (if you're interested, this is the course map - we planted ourselves at the end of the airstrip, before the loop, so we saw her at the start, on the first loop go around, then ran over to switchbacks, then to the crossover, and then to the gauntlet for the finish - I swear these are all things on the course that I'm totally not making up).

Anyway. We're at our spot. The field takes off - 16 teams, 7 girls each team, plus individuals - and right away, I note that the field is tight, and FAST. It looks like our team is having some trouble sticking together in a pack, but #1 is looking good in her mid-pack position.

source: Joe Gagnon/PrepCalTrack
As we're waiting for them to come through the first loop, Sarah Baxter breeeeeezes through, well ahead of everyone else.
Oh, look. She's winning!
The lead pack comes through, and I start to get a little nervous - usually there's three girls on our team that start together, but they were not running together this time. Then the chase pack comes through - usually, #1 is solidly mid-pack, in here. And usually by now, the herd has thinned a bit - not so much this time. They're all still running really tight, and FAST.

Then the girl that runs 7th for us ran by, and we thought we must have missed #1 in the herd.

15-20 seconds later, after everyone else has passed, is #1.
My first thought, is she got frustrated with the pack, and was giving herself space? She always starts slow and then kicks in... maybe the fast start was too much. Maybe she wanted to give herself some room.

And then I hear her breathing, and it's clearly distressed. I didn't connect what happened at first, until she was running past, and The H noticed the giant scrape under her right hip.

Somewhere in the first 800, she had fallen. And my heart just sunk for her.

We went over to the switchbacks, where she'd come through after the second loop around the field, and she was at the back, but was caught up to the rest of the pack (so, in the second 800, she made up 20 seconds on the rest of the field), and came through the first mile in 6:12.

When she came by us, before heading up the switchbacks, she was crying, and limping.

on Switchbacks

Waiting for her at crossover was just THE WORST EVER. As her mom, I'm a pretty tough-love kind of parent, and generally defer to the coaching she receives from the XC team, but it was horrible, knowing how HARD running is, how hard running uphill is, and that she was doing it while crying and limping.

She came through crossover, and had passed a few runners. After crossover, we planned to wait for her at the gauntlet (the last 200m at the finish), because the rest of the course is hard to get to and then still get to the finish. It was FOR REAL the longest longest longest 1.5 miles ever for me.

She passed that girl in blue.
When she crossed the finish line, I criiiiiied and cried. She finished two spots behind one of her teammates, and the other girls joined them in the line.

After their bib numbers were collected, her teammates took her over to the med tent to get cleaned up, where #1 found out that they had finished.... 8th overall.


She asked to stick around for the varsity boys' race a bit after hers, so we did. 

It was a pretty rough day. 

I'm not sure how she found it in her to finish the race, and finish it so strong. I tried to ask her why she kept running, and she just said "Because coach said to get up and go."

Maybe it's that simple. 

I spent the rest of the weekend kind of coddling her, but she's been in a fair amount of pain - I don't think it's anything serious, just a lot of road rash, and bruising. Since they're not going to states, next week is an off week, anyway, so hopefully she's all healed up when they head back to school after Thanksgiving.

She's had an amazing first season. It was really exciting to be a freshman, heading to CIF finals, and a great experience for her. Just kind of a sucky way for it to end. 

(PS, my number crunching was DEAD ON, and the team that ended up beating us into the finals was a dark horse that wasn't even ranked - they just had a killer day, and ran the race of their lives. Bad ass.  The team we were eyeing as competition TIED with us, and on a normal day, #1 would have been the tie-breaker, and would have beat their #6 runner. Maybe I missed my calling as a XC coach?)


  1. Great job to your daughter for gutting it out and finishing strong. She looks like she will have a great high school career!

  2. Methinks you DID miss your calling! So glad she's okay, but so sad that it ended the way it did. What a freakin' ride though?!?!

  3. That is soooo cool, such a cool story and what a way to wrap up a first competitive season. That girl has potential. So glad she has your support. Just wait 'til next season.

  4. Happy to hear she is doing ok. Three more years where she can prove her badassery!

  5. Oh hugs to her (and to you!) Sports can be so awesome and so brutal all at the same time. She should be super proud and since she is just a freshman she has lots still ahead of her to look forward to.

  6. Major props to her for finishing! Running on guts is a hard thing to do!

  7. She is going to kick major ass next year.

  8. glad she is okay...and impressed she finished. not sure I would've done that at her age. Glad it was a great first season!! loved following along.


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