Going into this weekend it was hard to sit in Seattle and cheer from afar for these women. After competing at Club XC Nationals last year, and seeing first hand what an awesome event it is, I am confident that we will have more Oiselle teams competing at Club XC Nationals in the years to come. Reading through some of our team members' recaps of their races and the experiences they had in Bethlehem, I can't help but feel so proud to be on the same team with such incredible women. Every racer that competed this weekend at Lehigh is amazing to me.
Coaching cross-country for many years, I know exactly how much determination and grit it takes to compete within these kinds of races. From the first to the last person across the finishline, everyone deserves recognition for their hard efforts. As you read some of their post-race reflections, you will see genuine and courageous women who have goals, who dream big, who aren't perfect but who are beautiful in their own unique ways.
Allie with her Bull City TC teammates!
My favorite moment of the race happened about seven hours after the race itself. My Bull City teammates and I came into the race with the very clear goal of finishing in third (we were fourth last year), but after reviewing the results post-race we had ourselves finishing, once again, in fourth. We were incredibly disappointed but were already thinking about what we needed to do better for next year. Imagine our surprise and utter joy when we learned at the awards that we had actually placed second! We are a team of 4 middle-aged moms, none of whom ran in high school or college, and pulling off second place felt like winning a world championship. We are all still grinning! It was also great to get to meet and get to know Jackie and Aysha better as well as spend time catching up with two of my favorite birds, Jen and Jennie!
The meet was amazing: such a fun experience! On Friday I ran the course with two Oiselle teammates: Allie Bigelow and Jackie Gruendel which was so awesome. The race itself was super competitive and all of the fields were phenomenal. I was happy with my 12th place finish, although I would have been even happier finishing in the top 10. Still such an honor to race in such a tough field of masters women.
It has been a long time since I have raced competitively. I try hard to accept where I am with my running and to really, truly run for the love of running and to not take myself too seriously. However, when a gun goes off, there is a big part of me that struggles to NOT compete. So, the entire 6 kilometers of the race, I battled with myself. Trying to take the pace, as one of my former coaches taught me, as "challenged, but in control", I had a hard time running within myself as others passed me. It was a struggle to find a pace that would get me to the finish line, and in the end, it was a struggle to get to the finish line! Lehigh is flat and fast, not very conducive to those of us who are content to run 8-8:30 pace on the trails three days a week but despite that we all made it across the line, unhurt, and a little humbled. However, once we gathered ourselves, the four of us agreed that we were glad we did it and finished strong.
Left to right: Faye Hellman, Jackie Gruendel and Aysha Mirza
Wow! I forgot how tough cross-country can be! I haven't run a cross race in four years. The race was not what I had hoped but I do know that I left it all out there this weekend! I was throwing up the last 400 meters and still passing girls. That’s what I love about cross-country: it's all about guts and the elements. It was definitely amazing to meet the other birds. I had a blast hanging out with Allie and Jen. I was glad I did it and I look forward to competing in the masters race next year.
When the gun went off and there was a stampede of over 300 women running through the mud and cold air, I smiled and was thankful to be running with so many incredible athletes. I've struggled with many injuries over the past year, and am just trying to get back into racing. My experience at Club Nationals provided the motivation I needed to focus on training this winter, and to hopefully get back to my pre-injury goals. I was so proud to wear the Oiselle jersey and loved hearing the cheers from fellow birds along the course!
Despite a new diagnosis on an injury I chose to compete for my team anyway this weekend. I allowed myself to seize the opportunity over the outcome and I finished strong & had a great time.
Thank you to Jen Found for connecting with everyone traveling to Bethlehem and a special shout out to team members, Sanita Ly and Christine Southwood-Smith for cheering for their teammates and for taking great photos as well.
Here's to more XC adventures in 2015!